1. #1
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Angry Paid Fire Chief in a Combo. Dept.

    I volunteer for a part paid, mostly volunteer department. We have a duty crew of four people Monday through Friday seven a.m. to five p.m. The volunteer chief has decided that the department needs a paid chief to be able to dedicate more time to the department and oversee the day-to-day operations of the department. The E.S.D. Board is the one that is selecting this paid chief, and of course they have selected the volunteer chief. Of course there are many other problems in the department (as any fire department) that I am not going to get into right now, but will shortly. I am really looking for the opinions of others and how other departments are handling this issue.

  2. #2

    Join Date
    Feb 1999
    Roswell, GA, USA


    I recently moved to GA and joined a combo dept. The Chief, Dep. Chief, Fire Marshal, Dep. and 4 Asst. Fire Marshals, Training Capt. and Operations Capt. are all full-time. We also have a full-time hydrant man, who test and flows hydrants. We have 6 stations, and are building a 7th in a recent annexation. Recruits are unpaid until 6 months into an 11 month program. All regular members are paid per call, by the hour for long calls. 3 stations are manned 20 hours each day, with the other 4 hours usually manned by "down time" personnel. These hours are necessary due to people's work schedules at their full-time jobs.

    We still work hard to maintain volunteer atmosphere, even at our size and rate of growth. We have training requirements to meet per quarter, but have dropped the minimum run requirement due to the manned stations.

    Most of the FFs and officers talk of the "old days" of total volunteerism which wasn't too long ago; most of them have 15-20 years in. This department has found a way to maintain a semblance of balance, and did start not all that long ago in the same situation as Bone-Daddi.

    What it will take is a plan. That might be part of the chief's job: have a plan for implementation. Also, don't differentiate between paid and volunteer when it comes to duties and responsibilities. The receipt of a paycheck only means one thing: someone has a paid job. The volunteer's fire is no less hot or dangerous, nor should the training be. Tasks should not be "left for the paid guys", such as cleaning SCBA after a fire. If the new paid chief enforces these and other like rules, he should do a good job. If HE adopts a "paid is better" mentality, he will find himself understaffed really soon.

    Good luck.

    Rick Reed
    (Contact me about a musical version of "The Fireman's Prayer".)
    The views expressed are mine. I typed it.

  3. #3
    Firehouse.com Guest



    Sounds like some good ol' boy polictics is going on.

    You state there are other problems. I suggest using the National Fire Academy "Leadership 1" course student manual. It gets into problem solving for an emergency service group. It uses a tool called Nominal Group Technique (NGT) to list percieved organizational problems, prioritize them, and then make these "problems" the organizations goals and objectives for your Chief to be aware of, and the chief, your offficers and your members to assist cooperatively together in the task work, planning, budgeting, policy/procedure implementation, etc. that will be needed to "solve" the problems.

    All members need to be a part of the process and then are then involved, some problems voiced may not be eventually high priorities but as percieved they still may be a problem to address after the most important ones are done with.

    This tool can be used in paid or career departments and if possible be repeated annually to remind each other of the tasks work needed or problems that for whatever reason still exist. Your governing board members may want to observe the process and they can see what responsibilities a part-time or full time chief needs to coordinate or perform the tasks as part of the daily duities.


    [This message has been edited by firepros (edited August 18, 2000).]

  4. #4
    Brian Dunlap
    Firehouse.com Guest


    Bone Daddy....I once belonged to a station that was all volunteer and then the board of commissioners decided it was time to hire paid personnel...First two to be hired...Commisioners Son, and the Current Volunteer Chief....When he went to paid status he destroyed and didn't care about the volunteers anylonger...so another Volunteer Chief was appointed...Two Chiefs in same department what a struggle....Next two to finally be hired Commisioners other Son, and A Close Freind to the Commisioners Family ....All these guys were company officers at one time but we know it was all political....Left that company in 1995 and saw the problems it was having....They finally disolved their charter this year but as far as the paid men they are still around same town...diffrent board of comissioners but no more volunteer side....What a disaster

  5. #5
    Firehouse.com Guest


    I recently became the Fire Chief of our local department, which also has a lot of problems, but they all seem to stem from the same thing. Time. I'm finding out just how much time it takes to get things going right, and wishing that I would get paid for some of this. It sounds like your dept. may have a similar problem but you don't feel that the person selected was the right one for the job. This may be good old boy politics, or as is my case, limited resources. Our previous Chief taught me one important lesson, when to step aside, and I know it was tough for him, and if someone else better qualified comes along I hope I can do the same. Give him a chance first, now that he's paid though expect some results. Also keep posted to the forums, I've only been on for about 2 weeks, but consider the brothers on here to be an indispensable resource.

  6. #6
    Firehouse.com Guest


    bone daddy you say there are other problems.
    are these other problems with the fire chief or just other problems in general. i guess i am just not seeing what the problems are.

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