1. #1
    Junior Member

    Join Date
    Jul 2002

    Angry Good ole Boy Syndrome....

    Howdy Folks.
    I've been a Volunteer Firefighter for 18 mths now. I have attended every monthly meeting except the one that was scheduled Sep. 11 last year. I have kept my mouth shut for the most part up until now and watched how things are conducted by the department. I won't bore you with the details. Only that we have basically no participation by many of the membership and our training program is non-existant. This fire department is in big trouble but the folks can't see the writing on the wall.
    It is a very small north Arkansas community. I'm not from here and that in and of itself poses a problem. It seems that certain members do not attend meetings at all; they only respond to fire calls. I'm trying to figure out how a department acts as a team if the members never train or drill together. Our fire chief is unwilling to prod,coax,cajole, or threaten those who don't participate. He worries about hurt feelings and stepping on toes. He explains that "around here" people are "different" and you can't expect them to do as you would think they should. If people would rather stay at home and watch "rasslin" than attend a fire meeting then that is the way it is.
    I don't think it is fair to expect a core group to do all the dirty work (maintenance on vehicles, cleaning equipment, etc) while the rest kick back and take it easy.
    Is mandatory attendance of at least 30% to meetings, drills, call outs a reasonable expectation? Should probation be an option? Or should I relent and go with the "status quo?" Personally I have serious misgivings about working alongside people during a fire situation who aren't properly trained.
    I'm dismayed and frustrated by it all. People realize there is a problem but keep their heads "stuck in the sand." I don't see the Chief changing his ways, he's 66 and worn out.
    I expressed my discontent quite openly at our last meeting. There was alot of silence. I'm going to the firehouse on my own to "self-train." Hopefully others will notice and catch on. I don't know, it's a sad situation.
    Apathy is a Dirty Word,
    Ed the Termite.

  2. #2
    Firehouse.com Guest


    I see you've got quite a tough problem... let me tell you a bit of my small experience in the fire service, and the effect leadership had on my dept.

    We had a chief in our dept. who did little-to-nothing for the department, which included responding to calls & drills. Basically, he was the chief, and that was that. Communication within the ranks & members was not good at all. We let that chief finish out his term and our new chief really took charge. Our chief is a Sgt. in the local police dept. and a big man... he has no problem speaking his mind and taking control of the dept. Now, he doesn't abuse this, but he basically 'gets things done'. One of our assistant chiefs, I feel he is one of the best things our dept. has. If something goes wrong, you will hear about it. If you do something wrong, you will hear about. One time during a car fire at 2 in the morning, the crew on our first due grabbed that trash line after this chief and the officer on the truck told them to take the booster line. The booster line was charged, the nozzle was open and water was spraying out of the back of the truck while the crew held the uncharged trash line.

    Back at the firehouse, the chief brought everybody on that truck (including the driver & officer) into the back room and basically 'talked' to them. He didn't scream at them, but he let them know that they screwed up. Basically what this does is ensure that something like that won't happen again... at least with the guys who were on that truck. The moral is that the chief lets people know when they do things wrong and hopefully the guys won't forget it.

    With our new chief, officers are working better with the men and each other. More men are showing up to drills and minor fires (automatic alarms, etc.) More things are getting done, and the dept. has been better than ever.

    The point I'm trying to make is that men aren't gonna do anything if the leadership of the dept is doing nothing. If the men start seeing changes in the dept (equipment, procedures, etc) that I think they will start coming around more often. Another good thing is to have officers & chiefs who are active... especially when it comes to clean-up. During a pump test of one of our pumpers, our 1st assistant chief jumped on the hosebed and started racking house... while probies were feeding the hose up to him. Now, when I saw that, it really motivated me... when the officers & chiefs are willing to do things, the men will too.

    I hope you got something out of my whole post... the bottom line is if the top guys in the dept starting getting things moving, then the lower guys will start moving.

  3. #3
    Temporarily/No Longer Active
    Oushore's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2002


    My friend,.... You are not alone.... Trust me....

  4. #4
    Forum Member
    sergeant125's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2002


    Definately not alone Ed. Same thing goes on in our dept. And believe me, not training together definately shows up on a fire scene. That's when eyes are opened, but only for a while. Our chief isn't as strict on attendance as he could be, but only because we're hurtin' so bad for firefighters. Our last fire was a fully engulfed house fire, and only 4 of us responded. It wasn't pretty. Chief can stress the importance of training as much as he wants, but there's nothing mandatory about being a volunteer. Except certification.


  5. #5
    Forum Member
    Weruj1's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 1999
    NW Ohio


    Soon it will get someone hurt ...........I work part-time at a place that is totally reactive nad has no forward looking "plan". I thought these people had their act together when they put on some daytime personnel but it appears that in the end it was not true. Alot of the personnel work somewhere full-time and are trying to incorpoate some ideas into the dept. they started on but it falls on deaf ears.I just hope the day it happens I am not on duty, cause OSH and NIOSH will have a field day with them.
    IACOJ both divisions and PROUD OF IT !
    Pardon me sir.. .....but I believe we are all over here !
    ATTENTION ALL SHOPPERS: Will the dead horse please report to the forums.(thanks Motown)
    RAY WAS HERE 08/28/05
    LETHA' FOREVA' ! 010607
    I'm sorry, I haven't been paying much attention for the last 3 hours.....what were we discussing?
    "but I guarentee you I will FF your arse off" from>
    http://www.firehouse.com/forums/show...60#post1137060post 115

  6. #6

    Join Date
    Jun 2002


    Its posts like the ones above that the IAFF can add fuel to the fire
    in the drive to get rid of Volunteers.
    It doesnt matter who you are or where you come from,be carefull of what you post.
    I won't be wronged,I won't be insulted,
    and I won't be laid a hand on.
    I don't do these things to other people
    and I require the same from them.

  7. #7

    Join Date
    May 2002
    The Big Sky


    I think a lot of the rural volunteer companies are this same way. The dept. I belong to is very similar. The only time I saw all the "ol' boys" wake up and proclaim their heritage was when we voted to remove the old beat up pool table from the training room. What surprised me was the way they could muster support. The important issues like compliant and effective ppe, drills, emergency protocols, training for new missions, critiqueing runs, etc. they are not interested. We truely are managers of different cultures, and maybe it's going to be that core group that changes the way things get done. Pretty soon, the old boys will find out they don't fit into the system anymore, because they were unaware of the changes going on. Volunteerism helped win us our freedom over 200 years ago, and we have relied on it since as a patriotic, inexpensive, and part time method to do a high risk, complex, full time job. I like working with our core group, everyone else has to find their niche to be productive if they want to work within the system we have developed. I look at some of the members as company mascots. I do respect them for their contributions in the past, but right now their issues are not well aligned with the jobs we have to do. If proficiency is a virtue in this job, many of us will have to learn to spell it first.
    O'Cionaoit: teine geinim

  8. #8

    Join Date
    May 2002


    You certainly aren't alone on this. There isn't a state that doesn't have this type of situation exist.

    What you are describing is a case of lack of leadership. It has nothing to do with the resources, or the training, or the pay, or the gear, or the equipment... it is leadership. And as unfortunate as it is often leadership has power so moving that rock in near to impossible without a group in support (and if they are related OR good ol'friends... put up or move on).

    I assumed the role of Rescue Chief (there was also a Fire Chief) and some of the behavior rubbed off from how the Fire Chief ran his command. But I was fair but also firm in what I expected and how the service was to be delivered and the risk was to be managed. A few tested me, but I stood firm and fair. In the long scheme of things we saw the rescue sector grow, flourish, but more importantly we saw a great deal of pride and professional enthusiasm. I only served as the catalyst, the resource (personnel) made it happen.

  9. #9
    MembersZone Subscriber
    ramseycl's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2002
    Next to the big ditch


    We are a very rural department that seems to have the exact same problems that you do.
    We (a group of concerned members) finally formed a committee to look into ways to make changes. Anyone (firefighter,EMT,community member) is allowed on the committee. We are just trying to find constructive ways to cause change.

  10. #10
    Forum Member

    Join Date
    Dec 1998
    Pea Ridge, Arkansas


    Hey ED,
    I know how you feel, when I signed on with our dept. 14 years ago, I was observing the same situation, not as bad as you describe but there was still some old ways in place. The Chief at the time was willing to let anyone work as hard as they wanted to improve the dept. The previous Chief tried to be progressive but was stymied by the city government. Over time things changed.
    Now I am Chief, one thing I've found is authority has to be delegated to active members, a Chief cannot do it all by himself, and he ultimately has to train his successor. The most important thing I've learned from experience is these things take time, you can't just steam roller 'em. Start some interesting projects, make the active group think it was their idea, and keep on improving. Next thing you know you'll be way down the line.
    I don't know which Dept. your with, but if your close to Pea Ridge, give me a call, we could setup some joint training. Or if you pass through sometime come and see us, hang tough and be safe.
    Chief Frank Rizzio
    Pea Ridge Fire Dept.
    Pea Ridge AR. 72751

  11. #11

    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    League City Texas


    What you are describing is a case of lack of leadership. It has nothing to do with the resources, or the training, or the pay, or the gear, or the equipment... it is leadership.
    Hit the nail on the head. One of the biggest problems that face volunteer organizations is that most officers are selected through a popularity contest called voting. Our department still experinces some of this though we've worked our way through some of it by including better qualifications for positions. Plus we've been lucky to have officers that are willing to progress the program along and aren't worried about losing thier positions.

    Your facing a uphill battle that may take years to change. I've spent 20 years in our department and been a big advocate for change in By-laws and procedures but we're still a long way away from having made the major changes needed to keep the organization looking ahead. I will say that once you really get the rock moving it can pick up speed.

    Concentrate on your newest members as they haven't developed the attitudes as of yet.

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