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Thread: Punishment?

  1. #1
    Pizan
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Angry Punishment?

    Should a member who stops in the firehouse on his day off to socialize with his friend be subject to punishment if he speaks his mind about something. If an on duty officer engages in a conversation with an off duty blueshirt and the cnoversation gets ugly, does the officer have a right to "write up the individual"? I think not. I am a stewart and have a grievance hearing on this matter. What do you think? A blueshirt got into a discussion with an officer and the officer apperantly did not like his views and wrote him up.

    ------------------
    Frank Ricci


  2. #2
    HHoffman
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Lightbulb

    Did you disrespect the officer? If you just had a view that he did not like, you have every right to be upset.

  3. #3
    Ed Shanks
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    Remember, too that a fire station, or at least parts of it, is considered a public building. If a firefighter is off-duty he or she is just another citizen. As such, they ought to be allowed into the building their tax dollars helped build.

    If the conversation were in public and contained classified or sensitive information it would be one thing, but how much of an audience was there in a fire station?

    Another side of your question could be "Can an officer write up a private citizen for speaking his mind?" As I said, when you're off-duty that's what you are.

    When you win the grievance, demand an apology. Maybe that'll help the officer in question learn something.

    ------------------
    E-4-A
    IAFF 1176
    RKMC MAL

  4. #4
    Lieutenant Gonzo
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Cool

    It's hard to comment on the situation without knowing what went on...can you give us the situation that led up to this...no names, of course...

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    Take care and stay safe...Lt. Gonzo

  5. #5
    Pizan
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    We have instituted on duty training (finally) we also have a lot of new young people. By the way, it is not me. It was the opinion of the off-duty firefighter that the new on duty training was a joke becuase we have like five probationary members on during a shift and they were sitting through IMS Training. We tend do A LOT of A/V training and not hands on, which has led to a lot of bickering among the blue shirts who feel we need more "hands on". When some of these new people have not even pulled our pre-connects as of yet. The Lieutenant did not like this statement becuase from what I have been told the blue shirts were the ones who ****ed and moaned about no on duty training and now that we have it we shouldn't be complainig.
    The off duty guy made a remark, I still don't have the jist of this yet, the Lt. got upset some "ideas" were exchanged, no cursing. The Lt. apperantley was upset enough to go write the guy up. My buddy who was kind of stuck in the middle broke it up before it got REALLY out of hand.
    I feel exactly the same as some of the replies, when you are OFF duty you are a citizen not an employee.

    [This message has been edited by Pizan (edited February 18, 2000).]

  6. #6
    Lieutenant Gonzo
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Cool

    It sounds like things got out of hand...we worry more about the small stuff than we do about what's really important. Training is training, and any training is better than none at all! Being a Lieutenant and at times having to run a drill, I hear the comments...It's too hot, it's too cold, it's raining/snowing/too close to lunchtime/why?, etc. At times I hate having to run the drill, but you have to do what you have to do. If these comments were made in front of the probies, I can see where the LT. would have been a little ****ed off...it's undermining his authority and what he is trying to do.

    I would have handled the matter a little differently. If it was a private conversation between two members and out of earshot of the rookies, it should have remained private. If it was done in front of the rookies, then I would have invited the firefighter to teach the class!

    I have been in the situation where I had to step in between two individuals (both FF to FF and FF to LT), it's uncomfortable, but when tempers flare, you have to calm people down...I would hate to see someone toss their career into the toilet because of a really stupid worthless arguement!

    What both individuals should do is get together and discuss what happened like rational human beings and how to avoid it in the future..and both have to be professional enough to apologize!

    ------------------
    Take care and stay safe...Lt. Gonzo

  7. #7
    FF McDonald
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    I can see both sides of this argument. Having spent my share of time in the Marine Corps, and having to deal with a rather strict chain of command, I can see where some of the problems are.

    Lt. Gonzo is very correct in his assessment. If it was a private conversation between two individuals, and ocurred off duty, then it should have remained just that-- A private conversation. The individual in question should have had enough integrity to see the conversation for what it was- an expression of opinion.
    If it was a comment made to undermine the authority of the officer running the drill, then that action was unacceptable. Yes- it should be punished, but there's the second dilemma-- to what degree-- the 'member' wasn't in uniform, and was off duty.

    Sounds like the root of the problem may be leadership. Honestly, I know a lot of fun, and funny stuff happens in the fire service-- but do you ever 'wise off' to your superiors?? You may not respect the man, but you damn well better respect the rank.

    Alot of this has to do with common sense, not semantics. Yes, when you are off duty you are a private citizen. But if you see a burning building, or someone in danger in need of assistance-- are you going to say,"Sorry, I'm off work-- I'm just a citizen now." NO-- You are going to stop what you are doing and do what needs to be done.

    In regards to the individuals comment on training, when should those probationary members receive their IMS training? When it is too late?? Why not now??? If he has such a strong opinion, he should address his comments to your department's Training officer.

    Okay-- I'm starting to ramble.......

    Marc

  8. #8
    Ed Shanks
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    I think the fact that the blueshirt in question was off duty makes a large difference. The incident should be handled no differently than if any other civillian came into the firehouse and said something along the lines of "Huh, youse guys are gettin' paid to sit and watch slides when you should be out there workin'!"

    And Marc, I think it's comparing apples to oranges to compare a firefighter in the firehouse on his day off to encountering an emergency while off duty.

    My opinions - Your Mileage May Vary


    ------------------
    E-4-A
    IAFF 1176
    RKMC MAL

  9. #9
    mfgentili
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    Just another example of why we need unions and the grievance procedure. In Frank's original post he states that a grievance was filed and is being heard. Let the process work, that's why we have it. It is very difficult to settle labor disputes in this forum without having all sides of the story. Hope it all works out for every one concerned.

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    Mike Gentili

  10. #10
    FF McDonald
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    Ed-- I do see what you mean. However, I feel that everyone should think before they speak. If an officer is holding a training session, that's not the time to go over and start a debate on Department policy regarding training. The original post states "Should a member who stops in the firehouse on his day off to socialize with his friend be subject to punishment if he speaks his mind about something." My answer to that question is no. Then we got more information, "It was the opinion of the off-duty firefighter that the new on duty training was a joke because...the Lt. got upset some "ideas" were exchanged, no cursing. The Lt. apparently was upset enough to go write the guy up. My buddy who was kind of stuck in the middle broke it up before it got REALLY out of hand."

    I can understand the feelings of the parties involved-- but lets be grown up about this. Let's not hide behind semantics. There is a time and a place for everything. If you are unsure about what you are saying, and to whom.... don't say it.


    Again-- these are only my opinions. Take what you want and leave what you want.

    Marc

  11. #11
    Ed Shanks
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    Marc,

    Everyone should think before they speak? The world would be a better place were that to happen!

    Of course one shouldn't openly insult an officer, but we still don't have enough information. Perhaps all the blueshirt in question did was make an idle remark that the Lt was overly sensitive to because it rang true. (We got officers, too, who have no idea how to conduct a hands-on drill. But fortunately, not all of them!)

    Sounds to me like it was the Lt that escalated the incident. The fire service is no place for thin skins. The Lt gave the blueshirt an *****-chewing in front of the same rookies who heard the remark, then wrote the blueshirt up. Sort of an "I'll pay you back 3-to-1 if you embarass me." attitude. I'd fight something like that, too because the blueshirt received two disciplinary actions for one transgression. He received an oral reprimand and then a written one.

    If everyone took your good advice about watching what one says and to whom one says something, many misunderstandings would be avoided, right up to the global level. That fire station in question would be a quieter place, because I think both parties should have thought first and spoke later. But what's done is done, and I think the Lt was wrong to pursue it as far as he apparently is.



    ------------------
    E-4-A
    IAFF 1176
    RKMC MAL

  12. #12
    FF McDonald
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    Ed--

    I thank you for your insights. I like it when the forums work in this manner-- I feel there is actually something being accomplished.

    I think that the root of this problem is leadership. You can hand someone a rank insignia, and say, "You're a Lieutenant now." -- but is he? Does he have the knowledge and skills commensurate to his position?? Hopefully-- but sometimes, no.

    When I was in the Marines, we had a little saying-- praise in public, punish in private. Granted there are times when it is necessary to make an example of someone, to demonstrate that rules are not to be broken, and that rules will be enforced-- but it is a dangerous double edged sword. If you embarass that individual bad enough, you may lose them as a viable member of the unit. they may withdraw. Or they can learn from their mistake, lift their head high, and press on....


    I thank my time in the Marine Corps for teaching me leadership. I have seen leaders do bad things-- mental note to self-- don't do that when you are leading someone else.
    And I have seen leaders do things that I thought were amazing and brilliant. When I was thrust into a leadership position, I tried to emulate those leadership qualities that I had seen in others that I had liked.
    Granted-- everyone will make mistakes- but make sure to learn from them.

    I like the three strike rule...
    • ASK
    • TELL
    • ENFORCE

    ASK-- simply ask the person to do the the task that needs to be accomplished.


    TELL-- If they don't complete the task, tell them what IS to be done, and supervise it so it gets completed.


    ENFORCE-- If the two steps above fail, walk the person through it. Hold their hand if necessary. If they want to act like a child-- treat them like one. Take necessary disciplinary action.


    Differnt Strokes for different folks. Everyone has to find their niche and use what works for them.

    Oh yeah-- if you are going to be a company level officer, then you should have your instructor certification, and should be conducting training properly.


    Again-- these are only my opinions.

    Marc

  13. #13
    Pizan
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    A little FYI this happned on the apparatus floor between only three individuals. The off duty ff, the on duty ff, and the on duty Lt. This was not during a training session being held, nor was there anyone else around. The off duty ff was speaking from his expirence becuase he was on duty the day before and expirenced the training first hand. Also, he did not criticize the Lt. in question, but he did criticize the Training Session. Only that session, not the whole training division.

    ------------------
    Frank Ricci

  14. #14
    Ed Shanks
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    Well, now, given the latest information from Frank Ricci (Pizan), which brings things into focus a little better, I now think the Lt should not have pursued any sort of disciplinary action, oral OR written. The blueshirt in question was apparently merely voicing his opinion. Sounds like the Lt and the blueshirt may have some history? Or is the Lt that insecure?

    Good thing the Lt doesn't work here - he'd have a stroke. We had a chief who had several TIAs and a couple real strokes in a similar situation!


    ------------------
    E-4-A
    IAFF 1176
    RKMC MAL

  15. #15
    BC White
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    The FF clearly had a right to voice how he felt.
    As soon as the conversation began to go sour, the Lt. should have moved the conversation to where it could have been conducted in private, not in front of the other (on duty) FF, or asked the on duty FF to excuse them.
    Yes..sometimes views do clash in the fire house, but it is up to the officer to control the situation.

  16. #16
    Capt Lee
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    Sounds like the LT took it personal, but like has been stated, we don't know the exact conversation or tone. Tone has alot to do with things said.
    The only concern I would have had at the beginning is if the off duty FF was involved/ interrupting the on duty guys while they were training. That would have been totally unaceptable. But with the addendum it sounds like this was a discussion out on the floor. Still sounds like it went too far all around, though, but that's my guess on it.

  17. #17
    EXJAKE
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Wink

    Sounds to me (a white shirt) like someone had a hair across his ***(a blue shirt) and spoke to another guy with a hair across his ***(a white shirt) and now both are going to find their (white and blue shirt) ***'s in a sling.

    Quite frankly, gentlemen, I think this is a waste of a perfectly good grievance proceedure. They both should go in front of the boss, with union representation for each of them, and explain themselves. Hash out their differences,make suggestions to improve the training and then shake hands and put it behind them.

    Otherwise,no matter which way the grievance goes, this situation will never be completely settled. Issues come and issues go but the relationships between people (good or bad) are always there. We all know this from collective bargaining sessions.

    Grievance proceedures are for important contractual matters that have a lasting effect on working conditions for everybody in the unit.


    "Writting" people up is for serious breach of rules and regulations or insubordination that is detremental to the operation of the department and should not be done in the pique of the moment.


    Both processes are diminished when used lightly.




    ------------------
    Good Luck and be careful out there,EXJAKE:-)


  18. #18
    The Snake Man
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Exclamation

    I have to agree with the above message produced by Lt. Gonzo. However, if the FF is off duty and a standard citizen then he tech. can not be subjected to work place enforcements of accountibility. Lt. needs to throw away the write-up and handle this person to person with out brass or be written up himself for poor public relations with a citizen of the community......if you really want to be that nit picky.

    ------------------
    Yours Truly,
    THE SNAKE MAN
    Arguing with a fire inspector is like rolling in the mud with a pig, you soon relize the pig enjoys it.

  19. #19
    HILLBILLY70
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    Don't stop by the station off duty and pick a fight with someone who was probably already looking for one!

  20. #20
    Captstanm
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    There are two sides to every story. I would have to hear both sides as well as witnesses before I pass an opinion. Some jurisdictions write their regs to indicate that a firefighter or emergency services worker is considered subject to call back at any time. Therefore it makes them always semi-responsible to the organization. Others say that when in the station you are subject to the rules and regs of the Department. What exactly happened? Additionally, your rules and regs state (I am certain) that you are responsible for conducting yourself in public in a manner that is not contradictory to the Department's image. You know...It is that "conduct unbecoming" phrase. If he disrespected the Officer and was blatantly abusive, then he should be held accountible. Also, the officer should not have let it go on, nor encouraged it. When it began to get out of hand he should have held up the time out flag and removed himself and the firefighter to the office. At that point it could have continued or he could have asked him to leave and discuss it when both calmed down. Sounds like making a mountain out of a mole hill to me. And the fact that the union is involved may make it even worse, depending on administration's relationship with the union. Lets be men and appologize. As an old Captain of mine used to say, "Can't we all just get along?"

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