Thread: Should I Stay or Should I Go?
05-18-2002, 01:06 PM #1
- Join Date
- Apr 2000
- New Jersey
Should I Stay or Should I Go?
I am an officer of a small very non-progressive VFD. Over the last 10 years I have belonged there, I have gotten more frustrated with the climate. It is a regular occurrence for other officers to undermine me and my ideas, I cannot get them to understand my points and most of the opposition is for nothing more than to spite me. It has gotten to the point that I am tired and worn out. I used to enjoy the firehouse, going on runs when I was available and trying to make things better. I got over my save the world syndrome several years ago and started to choose my battles. I have had my duties interfered with regularly by other members and officers who want to see me fail and quit. I cared too much when I started to allow that to happen. Unfortunately the constant pressure that they exert to make my life difficult has beaten me into near submission. Walking away from the committment to the compay and my community is something I can't take lightly, because it seems like the cheap way out. The reality is that it isnt paying my bills, they sucked the love out of it for me and I am working 2 other jobs as well. This isnt a situation where I am pouting because people don't like me, its more like there are a handful of ignorant and spiteful people that have los the vision of why the fire company is there and this is what it has come to. I am not the only members that feels this way. Several others are in a similar position, being dumped on by the good old boys inner circle. These guys would rather treat the fire dept like a social club where beer free flows and firefighting comes second to everyone elses other needs. They do things for personal interest not in the interest of the fire department and community. As volunteers, it is true that our firefighting doesnt feed our families or pay the bills, but the community deserves our committment. This is why I feel guilty contemplating leaving my position. I know at my paid firefighting job I couldn't just walk out that simply. I am a relatively smart and well educated guy, I have alot of training and a healthy amount of expierence relative to the call volume of the area in which I live and I expend "blood sweat and tears" into the job. By no means am I an expert, but I have learned so much over the years that I can recognize this is an unhealthy fire department climate.
Should I stay in my position, trying to hold back the tidal wave, or should I resign as an officer and become a black hat again. I don't know what would be right and I want to do the right thing.
Last edited by M G; 05-18-2002 at 01:12 PM.
05-18-2002, 09:34 PM #2
Ask yourself "Why do I want to be a firefighter?"
Maybe the answer will guide you."When you are safe at home, you wish you were having an adventure-when you're having an adventure, you wish you were safe at home"
05-19-2002, 10:36 AM #3
If you go, have they won their side of the battle?
If you stay, have you won yours?
If it were me, I would want to tough it out and not give up on somthing that I hold dear. I know you have'nt told us all the ins & outs of the problem, but it seems to be some people thinking that there are more important things to be doing instead of learning. Do you have a Chief or senior officer you can discuss things with. Tell him/her how you are feeling and what it means to you to be thinking of leaving. Perhaps if other people knew about the problem it would get it out in the open and make others realise how they are behaving.
At the end of the day, we do this job, whatver our position because WE want to. Not because someone tells us to. They same applies for someone else telling us we can't do it just because they want to.
Hang in there for a while longer. You never know. Things can & do change and not always for the bad.
Stay safe.United Kingdom branch, IACOJ.
05-19-2002, 11:32 AM #4
Ask yourself this: Are you the only one willing to do things right? If you are, it would set them back ten years toward improving if you left. Right now, you appear to be the only hope of brushing things up soon. I have seeen FD's just like this, and it does eventually work. Stay in there; if you can get anywhere with other officers, time will show you that your efforts are worth it.
And ask yourself this: If you leave and let the place keep standing still, do you want to lay your head down at night in a community with an FD like that?
Good luck, brother.
05-19-2002, 04:44 PM #5
- Join Date
- May 2002
- Give me a sec and I figure it out
I have been in the same boat for 2 years now. I am also in a small vol dept. We run second to the county who our town contracts with for fire and EMS. The two other officers(1 Lt, 1 Capt) have no experience and very little training. The only reason they got promoted is because the dept went through major restructuring and they were the biggest ***** kissers to the chief and fire commish. The fire commish's wife is also on the dept. She is not certified but is considered a ff. Durring the changes, the chief changed the SOP's to let uncertified people act as firefighters to please the commish and his wife. State law says you have 1 year from the time you join to get your cert. In the mean time you can perform all the duties of a ff except hazmat and interior attack. We have some, including the commish's wife who have been here over a year but are not yet certified. Because the chief lets them in, they do what ever the chief wants and he lets them ride around on the trucks and 'play firefighter'. I was promoted after the changes because all the certified ff's threatened to leave because of the close calls the other officers had gotten them into. I was the only one left with a lot of experience and training. All the old officers quit after the restructuring because they lost thier rank to the current officers. Also, the chief figured I would 'shut up' about the saftey problems and the uncertified people acting as ff's. All it did was make me speak louder. I quickly gained the respect of the certified ff's because I showed them I knew what I was doing and could do the job safely and efficently. I got the uncertified people against me because I won't let them act as ff's on calls. I make them go-fors. I can't run a scene and babysit uncertified people at the same time. I get in trouble with the other officers and the chief on a regular basis because of it, but I stand my ground. The chief knows that if I am forced out, the certified ff's will leave too. I am starting to get a little power but it shouldn't have to be that way. This is the fire dept, not Survivor. I still have a long battle ahead of me. My situation is probably worse than yours, I can't even write all the things that are wrong with my dept without taking up multiple pages. Like you, I am also a paid ff. I could stop vollying anytime, but I have fun doing it. Don't give up your rank or your fight because you will regret it always. Stay the course brother, fight on!
Last edited by Engine Co. Lt; 05-19-2002 at 04:49 PM.
05-19-2002, 07:07 PM #6
- Join Date
- Apr 2002
Similar feeling, different situation. I work for a fire department in a large city with a large budget and run volume. I also work as a Paramedic in a small town. The problem I run into is the same as yours. However I think I have figured at least part of it out. The smaller departments, with the Good Ole Boys, seem to be afraid of change. I think it is their inability to change or their general lack of interest, that causes them to shun change and betterment with a bitterness you described so well. You mentioned that you are a paid firefighter somewhere, well there maybe a feeling of the paid guy trying to teach us a thing or two. Their is resentment in these small towns for anyone who tries to come in and change or add to anything. Someone had already said it, ask yourself why you want to be a firefighter, and you will know what to do from there. Dont give up, we need people just like you who are interested in bettering the fire service. Best of luck....
05-19-2002, 08:43 PM #7
- Join Date
- Feb 2002
- traverse city, mi
I was fortunate to have to leave my department due to my life situation. I left on a very positive note.
I loved the volunteer service and am glad that many still give their time. But my advice to anybody is this:
If you are no longer gaining personal satisfaction and enjoyment, or your family is suffering to much...then walk.
The department will survive without you, and you will survive without it. As great as it is or was to be a member, its just not worth being a disruption in your life. You owe no one but yourself and family.
Good luck, and may you feel peace with whatever decision you make.
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