1. #1
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    Lightbulb Younger vs. Older members

    I'm 23 and have been a volunteer at the local FD for about 3 years now. In the past year or so, we've gotten a few new members, who are between 18-25 years old. We tend to stick together and we "hang out" at the station a lot together, pretty much all weekend we are all there. We've become pretty good friends and have got to talking about some of the dumb rules and whatnot that the Chief has. Our Chief has been on the department for 25 years, as Chief for the past 2. In the past few months, it seems that he has managed to **** off many of us. We horse around a lot while at the station, and I think that makes him mad. Its almost like he doesn't like anyone to have a good time. We are careful and on scene we are always professional and do not horse around whatsoever while on scene. Between the five or so of us, now our trucks always get out, even in the middle of the night - before it took a lot longer. My point is that without the "horsing around", there is really no point for me or others to hang out at the station. If its not fun, I mine as well be at home or somewhere else ?hanging out?, but I and all of us do it because we have fun there and like to run calls as well. I don?t think the Chief understands that if he keeps ****ing us off, we will not hang out at the station anymore.

    We have about 50 members, and officer elections are once a year. Only about 20 of the 50 ever show up to vote, so we are pretty sure between the 5-6 of us, we can swing the vote to someone else for chief. Sort of a "Survivor" alliance we will form if we need to.
    Some of the older members will vote for the current chief again stricly out of loyalty to him. I can feel a lot of tension in the department, and the chief has ****ed a lot of the younger members of the department off recently. I think he has lost sight of who is covering the calls. I've been there long enough to see that 90-95% of the calls are run by guys who have been on the department less than 5 years. Not much experience, but without them, we wouldn't get out on some calls.
    Anyone else have a similar situation?

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    Why are the rules dumb? Is it possible the Chief is worried about the reputation the firehouse is presenting by "horsing around"? Is he worried about damages or accidents around the building? Has there been a past history on things occurring that caused these rules? I know that some of my -5 year members were not aware of all that goes on with running a fire department. They have had some questions on things that I have sat and talked with them about so they do understand. There are reasons for most rules, and they are not to keep people unhappy. Can't speak for you, your chief, or your firehouse, but maybe you need to speak with the chief and find some of his reasoning. Maybe he can change some of those rules. Best of luck to you.

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    We horse around a lot while at the station
    There's a fine line between "horsing around a lot" and "horsing around A LOT!!".

    Granted that you're making lots of calls and granted that you're there when the whistle blows. Those are positive points.

    Are you somehow disrupting life for the other members? There's usually a reason for rules and there's usually a reason someone is ****ed. Why not ask the Chief?

    Trying to oust him on purpose for something like this is juvenile. You should be selecting a Chief based on his experiece and leadership abilities. If he has stepped on your toes without cause, that's one thing but if he's stepped on your toes for a valid reason, he's doing his job.
    Remember, it IS as bad as you think and they ARE out to get you!

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    The Chief does have experience - and on a fireground, I know firsthand that experience is key. Most of the rules were made of course becuase something happened, say ten years ago and the rule was made. An example of this is the Chief has told us that we aren't allowed to park our personal vehicles in the bay unless we are washing them - once we are done washing them, we are supposed to immeadiately move them outside. We have 3 extra bays which are empty all the time. The reason the rule was made - ~10 years ago when there were less bays, someone parked in there, went out with someone, leaving his vehicle in the bay blocking a truck. These days, there are more bays and we are blocking nothing by parking vehicles in the bay overnight or during thunderstorms.
    He shows a poor attitude too - he has very bad personal skills - not a motivator or team leader.
    The horsing around doesn't bother anyone, that I know of - I get along well with everyone really except the Chief. I think its the kind of thing where he knows what HE is doing, and he thinks that others do not. He doesn't have confidence in his people...for instance, we have a fire and I mark in command upon arrival...he will show up 5 minutes or more later and takeover command without even talking with me (or others in command).
    I guess I didn't include enough in the first post. I am just wondering if anyone else if/has been in a similar situation and what the resolution has been.

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    Couple things here make me a little curious. You have been in for 3 years, I am assuming that most of the first would have been as a "probationary" type member as you would probably have been getting your initial training. In my company, you have at least 1 year probation. Why would someone with 2 years be in command of a scene? You yourself mention that experience on the scene is of key importance. As for your example of parking in a station. I can think of no reason why you would need to park your POV in the firehouse overnight or during a rainstorm. As for not blocking anything, maybe you are blocking the space for someone else's vehicle? Sounds stupid and petty, but their can be reasoning behind those rules. You also make it sound like most people are on your side and that these rules are not the best, well if most people are on your side, bring it up at a meeting and vote to change them.
    Only about 20 of the 50 ever show up to vote, so we are pretty sure between the 5-6 of us, we can swing the vote to someone else for chief
    Don't you have any other officers to discuss these options with? This sounds a little extreme to me.
    Again, good luck and stay safe.

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    We have a lot of rules and regulations at our staton. If anything happens or someone gets hury, it will be the cheif that will be responsible. Change is good in a dept. If it is about firefighting tactics. Sometimes when a new firefighter gets a little expeirence he thinks he should be a offercer. A little knowledge can be dangerous. It sounds like you aready made up your mind to try to remove your cheif. Talk to him not everyone else about your concerns, If you cant resolve your problem talk to the board of directors.

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    Trying to vote the chief out is a big move and one that could be costly for you. Rules aremade for a reason and even you may not agree with them or find them senseless you still have to obey them. Being a chief even in a volunteer depatment is a very demanding job. First about horsing around there is a time and place for it and sometimes it isn't at the fire station. It depends on what kind of horsing around you are doing. If it offends anyone no matter what kind of horsing around it is then it is a problem. We have a good time of shift at the station I work at and the chief even gets involved but we know the limitations and don't go overboard. As for parking we are not allowed to park our cars in the bays becouse of storms mainly becouse we don't have an empty bay. His way of thinking may be what if more people are there then open spots in the bays. How are you going to decided who gets protected and who gets the damage. By making everyone park outside you elimate the possibility for tension. Finially about command you would think that the highest ranking officer on scene would be in command. On my department there are times are times that i am in command until another officer arrives on scene. I know that when the chief shows up he is going to take command. He doesn't have to come and ask me if it is ok it is a given and i know that when i hear him check on i can focus on my duties as the engineer. The chief doesn't show up blind either he listens to radio traffic while he responds. He hears the size up and what line we are pulling and what tasks are being assigned to arriving companies. When he arrives on scene and gets a first hand look at the fire conditions he can adjust to his game plan if needed. I think the best thing you can do is talk to the chief about your opinions and ask his point of view. Good luck with your problem.
    I PROVIDE A NAMELESS FACELESS SERVICE TO A COMMUNITY THAT RARELY KNOWS HOW MUCH THEY NEED ME IF I AM CALLED FROM A SOUND SLEEP TO SACRIFICE MY LIFE TRYING TO SAVE THE PROPERTY OR LIFE OF SOMEONE I DO NOT KNOW I WILL DO SO WITHOUT REGRET
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    Bones,reading the post and when I read the first one just one thing came to mind.PUPS!Oh the work never ends! Hehe T.C.

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    Question

    Your Chief is thinking about the possibility of injuries that may occur from you and your buddies just "horsing around" at the station, as well as the reputation of the fire company as a whole. Insurance is carried by your town, in the event that you become injuried or worse, on town property. He is looking out for you and the rest of the department. As for this "Younger vs Older Members" thing, I suggest you lose this "vs" thing fast. You are a team, or I should say, a family. You all watch out for each other. I am sure your Chief looks at this as his way of watching out for his family. If you and your buddies have a problem with how he is handling things at your station, try talking with him, you might be surprised.
    Just my opinion on this subject.

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    I feel your pain. Being the youngest(membership wise) of seven stations, we have a history of horsing around and irritating everyone else. It's a history that is very hard to overcome. The core group at our station started out when we were 16, about 8 years ago. So, even now, we have some pretty young guys with quite a bit of experience for our ages. We've had conflict after conflict with the leadership of the department. It's kind of funny, but as the group of us gets older, we seem to be maturing more, which makes the chiefs happy. But at the same time, a lot of guys are working more, getting families, and otherwise not having the time to commit like they used to. It's a Catch-22, I guess. The chiefs are happy with us, but we're getting slower and less reliable as responders. Keep that youth and that attitude, it sucks when it starts to fade. Recruiting to replace the younger guys has become an issue, like I said our core group started when we were 16. "Getting them young" I think leads to better overall retention. But they've shut down or junior program for liability reasons, so now we can't recruit until folks are 18. By the time someone's 18, ther's just a lot of other things going on that volunteering for your community. We have also, at times, alienated the older more "stable" members by pulling so fast and so often that they never made the truck. Some folks have gotten frustrated by that and ended up leaving. Our chief doesn't care for younger people, either, because they do end up giving him headaches that he would rather not deal with. But, he also realizes the weight that the younger folks can pull when they're motivated, well-led, and happy. He knows that if a neighboring station has limited manpower, he can usually call the station and get a hold of a crew to jump their call. I guess there's a trade-off between liking people and respecting them for what they do. Sounds like meybe you can work to earn respect, without necessarily trying to be liked. Good luck.
    These are my opinions and not those of the organizations for which I work and/or volunteer.

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    Default As a Former Chief

    Let me take a stab at this from another perspective.

    Our department has taken on quite a few new members in the last 2 years and as a former chief and current Drill Instructor I have a couple of questions &/or observations.

    When you say "Horse Around" what do you mean, as has been stated there is horsing around and there is HORSING AROUND. In most departments the chief is responsible for all that goes on including when he/she is not there.

    I am all for members being at the station, but also as previously posted what are so many 1-2 yr members doing loading up the 1st out vehicles? In our department we only allow 1 probationary to 1 "experienced" member unless the officer says otherwise. Quantity does not equal quality. Granted the chief, if & when he does take over a scene should get a report from whomever is "In Command"

    While at the station do you take time to do work around the station?
    Like most departments I am sure there is always something to do. Hose to be rolled, equipment that needs work, etc. Show that you are interested in doing the extra work and maybe he will let up on the other things.

    TALK to him &/or other officers. Do you have a grievance process?
    If so use it. Being chief is hard and you are never/ever going to please everybody.

    Also in our department of the top 10 making calls the average experience is somewhere over 10yrs on the department with 3-4 over 20.

    That is enough for now.
    Last edited by rcrompm46; 06-19-2002 at 02:44 PM.

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    I agree with Rescue 101.........smells like puppy p**p to me. I sugest forgetting about going to hell and putting it out, and remember that just because you show up doesn't mean you aren't expendable. So show up and try and learn something, after all you have a WHOLE 3 years on.Maybe you can be Chief ?
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    Originally posted by Weruj
    after all you have a WHOLE 3 years on.Maybe you can be Chief ?
    Thats a good one

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    What is it Gonzo says? 3/60?

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    Question

    If you were a member for about 3 years, and the currant chief has been in that position for 2 years, how did you feel about him before he became chief? Does he manage the dept. and fire scenes well?

    Command should always go to the senior firefighter on scene if there isnít already an officer on scene, with 3 years on and taking command, what level of experience does the rest of the engine crew have?

    Rules are rules, if everyone else follows them why shouldn't the younger members. If no one else likes them then work to change them. Maybe the horseplay doesnít bother any one that you know of, but perhaps members brought it up to the chief to have something done without seeming like bad guys themselves. Respect the chief he was probably put in that position for a reason.

    Half of my dept. has twenty or more years of experience, itís hard to bring about change, but if everybody works together positive changes could happen instead of potentially negative.

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    Lightbulb

    I have to agree with most of the rest around here. What exactly are the 'rules' that you have a problem with?

    I permit people to be at our building at any time they wish - that does ensure coverage. We have rules however about how to conduct yourself as a member.

    While I encourage ordering pizza, watching movies and hanging out - I would not be able to encourage people to "horse around" at least for my definition of it (you haven't actually clarified yours).

    Why, you ask? One word: Liability. That is the biggest, baddest, most powerful word in the dictionary these days for emergency services organizations. I would be upset if any member got injured, but if it was while a bunch of them were out back cutting up cars or breaking up concrete I could justify to the insurance company - injuries from a wrestling match or being thrown into a soda machine I can't.

    My advice is to look at the rules you have a problem with - pick your battles carefully (don't complain about all of them, just the ones you absolutely feel are most problematic) and go see the Chief. Sit down with him and (calmly) ask him to explain why these rules are in place and see if you can offer some sort of solution to make everyone happy. Don't expect him to change everything to your liking, expect to have to give a little - but more than likely treating him with respect will get you much farther than forming a lynch mob to vote him out.
    Susan Lounsbury
    Winston-Salem Rescue Squad
    Griffith Volunteer FD

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    cutting up cars or breaking up concrete
    Susan, is this a regional hobby? Do you use tools or just bare hands? Is there an entrance fee to watch?
    Remember, it IS as bad as you think and they ARE out to get you!

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    Talking

    I was referring to breaching and breaking practice - we have a rubble pile on our training grounds with lots of concrete slabs, rebar, etc. No entrance fee, but you have to expect to work and get dirty!
    Susan Lounsbury
    Winston-Salem Rescue Squad
    Griffith Volunteer FD

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    Guys, let's remember one thing. We don't know exactly what VAVolFF's situtation is. Let's not be too quick to jump on him and thrash him. He had a problem, he voiced it here, he is looking for suggestions, let's not chase him away. He should feel welcome to come here and do exactly as he did. VAVolFF - keep the info coming.

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    Cool

    Thanks Bones for the "support". I really don't complain alot usually, and my post here was just to kind of see what others thought. It looks like I should try and get some more background information before anything is said or done.
    Just some clarification - by horsing around, I pretty much meant being loud (inside), and just general goofing off - but no "throwing people into soda machines". We play wiffleball and basketball and watch TV - stuff like that. And we do keep the station/equipment in good shape. Since I have been there, our trucks are always clean in/out (that's one of my pet-peeves)

    As far as being in command - I wouldn't take command of a working fire - and if I did, I'd expect a more senior member to at least take up overall command from me upon his arrival. In my county, we establish command for most incidents except minor accidents. We also have a Battalion Chief who responds to all fire alarms and structure fire calls, so he is there if I need help or need him to take command if the incident is a large one. 50% of the time, I am the most experienced FF on the truck except the driver, who obviously stays with the truck. If we actually have something "real" like a working fire or extracation, more experienced guys are always on their way.

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    What are the rules though - against the noise level or something? Do you have any neighbors close by that have complained? There must be some reason..Basketball, wiffleball and being loud don't sound bad to me - as long as it doesn't bring ill will with the community.
    Susan Lounsbury
    Winston-Salem Rescue Squad
    Griffith Volunteer FD

  22. #22
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    VAVolFF-

    I had the same problem in my FD. We have 4 stations, younger people at all 4. At first, we would hang out at our respective stations, which meant a couple at each. We finally figured out that if we all went to the same station, we could have more fun and get some of the bigger projects done a lot quicker. We rotated around the stations, helping each other out. When we finished with the work, we would go outside, play wiffle ball or street hockey, (on our own parking lot).

    What we didn't know was that the chief and other officers were getting calls from citizens driving by. The citizens weren't used to seeing people "playing" at the stations. I never heard how these people described us, but I don't think it was favorable. Since we are a tax supported district, the chief got nervous. He told us that we couldn't "play" outside anymore.

    We talked to the chief and explained what we were doing. We assured him that we weren't using profanity or playing loud music (you know how "old" folks can be.) We explained to him the benefits of the cardiovascular workout and the quick responses he was getting from the stations. We phased the outside "play" back in, with the chief present during our games. This helped the citizens see that it was an accepted activity and things got better.

    That was the past, in present times, I am Deputy Chief of the District that has grown ten fold since then. We still get calls from citizens, but most of them are only concerned for our property. Once we explain to them that those young adults they see up there are firefighters, they are normally very pleased that we have a crew on standby.

    Don't try to oust your chief, talk to him and invite him up to the station and show him what you do. Above all, don't lie to him. If you play the radio, show him the volume you play it. Let him see exactly what he is trying to stop.
    ftm-ptb-rbp
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    NCRSQ751 - You ask "what are the rules?" Well, see thats the problem, a lot of things are rules that no one knows about - nothing is in writing - just sort of when it's convienent, it is a "long standing rule". I need to ask that a set of rules be posted in writing for all to see.

    The noise does not bother anyone in the community - we have a pretty good bit of land on 3 sides and road on the other bordering the station. My whole point to all of this is - I have a full-time white color job. When I am at the Firehouse, I like to have fun (again though, while on a call, its all business). Once the fun disappears, I disappear as well. We have duty nights once a week, so if I wanted to, I could show up for those only and still fulfill my obligations to the company - the other guys are the same way.

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    The first thing you need is that set of written rules. Volunteer to help write them. Nothing breaks ice and tension more than offering a solution rather than just complaining. I obviously only know one side of this, but it sounds to me like you aren't doing anything that I'd consider wrong. I suggest you make sure you understand his side of it, then work together to find a solution like bfpd36 did. Unless the guy is totally unreasonable (or you aren't willing to give a little) I'm sure you'll be able to find a compromise. Good Luck!
    Susan Lounsbury
    Winston-Salem Rescue Squad
    Griffith Volunteer FD

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    i agree with ncrsq751 get the rules on paper maybe you should try to set up some sog's [ standard operating guidelines] or possibly a rules and ethics committee who would handle these types of deals

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