Thread: Proffesionalsim

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    Lightbulb Professionalism

    OK, somewhere along the line there was a post, and it was stated that Pennsylvania Fire Departments were some of the worst/most unproffesional in the country...

    What are some problems in your department, and how would you go about fixing them. What would you do to change your department for the better.

    My list
    1.) Enforce accountability on all of the trucks.
    2.) Promote tighter enforcement of the SOG's.
    3.) Promote better public relations. (Get the trucks out to those community events more.)
    4.) More training/ OFFICIAL COURSES.
    Everybody should take many many courses. It doesn't mean you should have absolutely no free time, but we must be constantly trying to improve ourselves and learn more.

    ...
    Last edited by JRFireman; 12-05-2002 at 09:32 PM.
    Any statements I have made are my statements, and my statements alone.

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    And the first sentence in your post is based on what?
    Fact or Rumor?
    PA. is a big state , And I'am sure a lot of firefighters would be
    interested in the orgins of your statement.
    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.

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    I think you're referring to a statement that a chief made a few weeks ago. He said that when he's out of town and tells people he's a chief in PA he gets laughed at.

    He didn't say why and really didn't offer any defense or ask why he gets that reaction.

    It could be that since we have so many little townships running the state instead of a few large counties there are many departments that do no live up to good and stringent training standards.

    It could be that we have so many companies in the Commonwealth and many of them try to outdo their neighboring companies with duplicate equipment instead of working together.

    It could be that they don't understand how our state training system works (Sometimes I don't either) by handing off the training to local fire academies. I have heard several "complaints" about that.
    You also have to remember that we have more volunteer firefighters in PA than in any other state. So many of our neighbors who are either all paid or combination departments don't really understand how a system like ours could ever work.

    Those who live outside of our glass house called PA love to throw the stones of their superiority to help feed their egos. I am proud of our company and the strides we have made over the 15 years I've been there. I would put many of our firefighters against any others for their dedication, knowledge and commitment.
    Steve Dragon
    FFII, Fire Instructor II, Fire Officer I, Fire Appartus Driver Operator Certified
    Volunteers are never "off duty".
    http://www.bufd7.org

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    I am not saying that Pennsylvania departments are unproffesional. Some are, many aren't. Whether your department would be considered proffesional or not, there has surely got to be some changes in policy that you would like to make IN ORDER TO MAKE YOUR DEPARTMENT BETTER, not because you just don't like the rules.

    http://cms.firehouse.com/forums2/sho...threadid=42767

    I did not mean to imply that PA departments are unprofessional, I simply was attempting to use a previous statement to ask what improvements you would make to your department.
    Any statements I have made are my statements, and my statements alone.

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    Default Well Said

    Bravo DRAGONFYRE Bravo Well put but you missed a dozen other things that may also be wrong with the fire service in Pa (and other states I would bet).

    The biggest thing that my department has done to improve service is to require that all active members have the EOFF program (or Fundies for the older members). We have a guy with 28 years in and he has never taken a class this is his first one. If a firefighter does not have basic certification he/she is still a member just relegated to JR Firefighter status, yellow helmet and pretty much the same restrictions. There are how ever exemptions being made for the nonactive click I think Hitler called them usless eaters, taking up needed resourses (pagers, gear, etc) without any benifit to the larger population. Except to bitch at the meetings and oh yea they show this time every year to stack the vote for the chiefs yes persons to be officers.

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    You cannot change a department from the top down but, over time, you can change a department from the bottom up. One of the big discrepancies in how departments function is directly related to how the people who comprise the department were trained and indoctrinated. Because that more than anything else influences their future attitudes and desires in the fire service.

    In the military, everyone goes through a boot camp. Everyone get the same basic training and from that point on, everyone is on the same page. That's why the initial training is so important. If the firefighters initial training and indoctrination is not done in a positive manner where education and future training is encouraged, you get a stagnent department. The proby finishes his class, disgusted and determined that he is not going to sit through any more training. the old guys in the department then get to work on the new member and tell him or her that everything they need to know can be learned at the hose house. Rubbish. No department has that many experts. I don't care where you belong.

    I agree with choad33. The most important way we can improve professionalism in the service is to be professional about how we initially train our people. Make sure that the expierence is thorough and yet fun at the same time. The old tradition of beating on the proby has got to go. Make sure that when they complete their training they know what classes are out there. Give them the information that additional classes are available and encourage them to attend.

    As officers remember these simple leadership lessons and pass them on.

    In the volunteer service,

    you do not command, you request.

    you do not order, you lead by example

    you do not gripe down, the gripes only go up.

    you do not bitch a person out for screwing up in front of others.

    you do not let junior officers argue in front of the members or public. EVER. That's why we invented doors...shut them.

    you do not speak ill of other departments, even if they deserve it.

    you think and treat the citizens of your area as your customers. Even the 80 year old lady who MF's you because you closed a road.
    If you can keep your head about you, while those around you are losing theirs, then you will be a man my son.

    Rudyard Kipling.

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    Dragonfrye:

    Some of what you say is correct, but one of the problems in Pa is the makeup of the state itself. In the southern tier you have many progressive and well trained depts, in the northern tier its another story. I have seen some depts up there who have a 20 year old piece in a one room garage and run 5 calls a year with the next dept 20 miles away. If we impose more requirements are we doing those people in the upper tier a disservice, what they have isn't much, but its better than nothing, should we regulate these depts out of service??

    I have also seen depts who are only there for the liquor license, these are the ones who need to disappear, some years ago I was in a small town (5000 pop if your lucky)and they had 3 fire depts, 2 had the most beautiful bars you'll ever see and one was a real fire dept, you tell me what the answer is there.

    Yes Pa has some problems but we aren't alone, take a trip to the midwest and you will find the same thing as here in Pa, scattered small towns, small depts running 10 or 20 calls a year. I know for a fact of a small dept in the midwest who applied for a FEMA grant last year for new ladders, pike poles, and axes for their 49 Buffalo pumper.
    Pres41 (Pete)
    pres41@aol.com

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    choad33
    Yeah, that's kind of what I meant by official courses(probably should have said "the same official courses", but...) In house training is great, but it differs from department to department, and since there isn't always a curriculum, it can easily vary every time it is done. If everyone in the department takes the same class, then the training they received is more uniform.
    Any statements I have made are my statements, and my statements alone.

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    pres41:

    If we don't impose stricter training requirements across the state aren't we doing the public in the "northern tier" a disservice?

    Just because they have limited apparatus doesn't mean they don't have to train to the same standards as the rest of us. They have the same resources that we all do either by dealing directly with the PSFA or through the community colleges and county academies.

    Some day in the near future the insurance companies that supply the workmen's comp insurance to the municipalities will start demanding a base level of training in order to continue coverage. That, and our own self pride is why we have base competency requirements for all our personnel or they don't ride the trucks. It's something everyone knows they must do so we're not trying to exclude anyone by requiring it.

    The state's certification program is a great place to start this.

    As far as those companies with great bars most of them are old enough so that they were once the social hub of the community. I agree with you that the fire service is better off without them. We're waiting for ours to close due to lack of business,but we have made sure that we have seperated ourselves (the engine room) from the social quarters in all money and legal matters. This year we finally took away their vote for fire officers. It was a hard struggle but worth it.

    Eventually you will see those companies fold or be merged due to lack of money and members. Look at what recently happened in Lewistown. As long as there is a good core of dedicated and qualified firefighters working for the public Pennsylvania will be in good hands.
    Steve Dragon
    FFII, Fire Instructor II, Fire Officer I, Fire Appartus Driver Operator Certified
    Volunteers are never "off duty".
    http://www.bufd7.org

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    Dragonfyre:

    I'm not disagreeing with you, but if you haven't been north you will never understand. Some of the depts up there are, well, like the old old days, some place to put the pumper in case someone in town needs it. As long as the thing starts and pumps that is all that matters. I can see both sides of the coin on this one, at least they have some kind protection better than waiting 30 mins till someone from 30 miles away gets there. As far as workmans comp I would bet we pay more for car insurance than some of them do for workmans comp.

    I'm would be torn between forcing regs on them at the expense of what little protection they provide. Something may be better than nothing.

    The other thing that bothers me about standards, and my dept has them, is until the municipalities step up to the plate with more support are we gonna burn people out with the training and fundraising. I've been in this business for 42 years and I've yet to see a good firefighter who joined to do fundraising.

    My dept is a good example of this, we run about 900 alarms a year but we only do about 20 days in 7 weekends a year of fundraising this is what a good firefighter wants to do, run a lot of calls and do very little fundraising. He doesn't want to come to station every other night to do fundraising. Less fundraising also means more training, allowing firefighters to get closer to those standards whatever they are.

    If we want to do some standards I think the first ought to be management, good business managment practices are sorely needed for the Pa fire service, investment, marketing,and customer service are becoming keys parts of of the fire service. How many depts in Pa have 5 or 10 or beyond year plans, the vol fire service in very short sighted, many never see more than a year ahead if their lucky.

    The service is a business or at least should be run like one, that entails all things that make a good business.
    Pres41 (Pete)
    pres41@aol.com

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    Pres41 you make very good points about the downside of mandating the training. I am a FF2/EMT/local level instructor bla bla. I teach up there from time to time. There is an enourmous discrepancy however from department to department. I can guarantee that some of the norther tier depts are far more progressive and training oriented than you might imagine. For those dept's that cannot bring in the state instructors due to numbers, they can always work with neighboring depts to put a class together. I am seeing that more and more. That has and additional benefit in that mutual aid companies have an opportunity to spend two days with each other and get to know one another. That helps break down the provincial "turf" attitudes that for years have held back the service.

    If the municipality mandates the training, then it has to see to it that the training is made accessible. The legal obligation to provide fire protection in the commonwealth lies with the local government. It is up to them to mandate it.

    As to making sure everyone has the same basic training, I think you will see regional Essentials classes being offered as the local ETA's start competing with each other for marketshare. Bucks is the biggie in the east, and Butler is the biggie in the west. In addition, as more counties get training facilities, (Westmoreland is now building one) the availability of classes will only increase. The problems are manageable and I know for a fact that the SFA is working hard to make more classes available at the local level.

    As to the business practices issues. You are right on. We use professional management to oversee our portfolio. We also recruit those specialists from the community into the fire service. ie...we pick them out and then bring them in. You need those people to help run the depts. Having all worker bees and no one with business management expierence does not make sense. I like small business owners because they have a lot of common sense and drive. They also know what is smart and what's not. Recruit them.

    Plus I recommend everyone take the legal aspects of emergency services class. I admit my self interest. I like teaching it. LOL.
    If you can keep your head about you, while those around you are losing theirs, then you will be a man my son.

    Rudyard Kipling.

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    You also have to ask why the departments are not meeting the requirements. Is it because they can't? Or, is it because nobody seems to notice if they don't?
    There is a guy in my department that had a very low participation rating. A rule was made that you had to have a minimum participation rating to be a member of the department(10%). Shortly thereafter, his participation rating tripled (2%-6%). It's likely that he could have had the 6% the entire time(actually higher because he had 3/4 of a year of answering only 2% of calls working against him when he brought it up). It's just that it wasn't required, and people kind of knew and expected that he would have a low rating.
    ...
    Any statements I have made are my statements, and my statements alone.

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    I apologize in advance if i offend anyone

    The volunteer fire service in pa is very unprofessional-as i see it. I feel that there are different standards for a volunteer vs. career and there shouldnt be. Anything worth doing is worth doing right.

    I feel that you should command-not bark orders but give them. However, a lot of departments hold line officer elections-it is just like voting on prom king( a popularity contest) and that is a major downfall. If your department has min. standards for officers-good for you.

    I feel you should lead by example all of the time.

    I feel there should be mandated training. Initial training and continual education both at state/national levels and in house. There is enough FREE education out there to shake a stick at.

    We are moving in the right direction-at least i think so-but we need to kick it into high gear.

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    Thumbs up well written

    Originally posted by Capt1GVFD
    You cannot change a department from the top down but, over time, you can change a department from the bottom up. One of the big discrepancies in how departments function is directly related to how the people who comprise the department were trained and indoctrinated. Because that more than anything else influences their future attitudes and desires in the fire service.

    In the military, everyone goes through a boot camp. Everyone get the same basic training and from that point on, everyone is on the same page. That's why the initial training is so important. If the firefighters initial training and indoctrination is not done in a positive manner where education and future training is encouraged, you get a stagnent department. The proby finishes his class, disgusted and determined that he is not going to sit through any more training. the old guys in the department then get to work on the new member and tell him or her that everything they need to know can be learned at the hose house. Rubbish. No department has that many experts. I don't care where you belong.

    I agree with choad33. The most important way we can improve professionalism in the service is to be professional about how we initially train our people. Make sure that the expierence is thorough and yet fun at the same time. The old tradition of beating on the proby has got to go. Make sure that when they complete their training they know what classes are out there. Give them the information that additional classes are available and encourage them to attend.

    As officers remember these simple leadership lessons and pass them on.

    In the volunteer service,

    you do not command, you request.

    you do not order, you lead by example

    you do not gripe down, the gripes only go up.

    you do not bitch a person out for screwing up in front of others.

    you do not let junior officers argue in front of the members or public. EVER. That's why we invented doors...shut them.

    you do not speak ill of other departments, even if they deserve it.

    you think and treat the citizens of your area as your customers. Even the 80 year old lady who MF's you because you closed a road.

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