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  1. #1
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    Default Off-duty company officer authority in YOUR department?

    We have this issue that keeps rearing it's ugly head. Say an off-duty officer comes in for a cup o'joe or whatever. Guys at the house, to include the ON-duty company officer, are in the wrong as far as maybe shaving, or the uniform of the day, or might be watching the idiot box when technically it is off-limits. Off-duty guy says something, on-duty guys say F off it ain't your shift. However, we work OT for people, so the guy who comes in could be YOUR company officer (when your shift is on). I say rules are rules, and if someone calls you on 'em, on or off duty, and they have authority and power given to them BY THE DEPARTMENT, not just the shift, you should abide by them. But at my house, I am in the vast minority.

    How 'bout your stations? Do your company officers have authority beyond their company?
    ...if you put the handline in the right spot, you won't have to jump out the window...
    -Andy "Nozzles", SQ18, 9-11-01


  2. #2
    Forum Member DeputyChiefGonzo's Avatar
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    When off duty...
    Judge not, lest ye be judged...

    Someone popping in off duty has no idea as to what is going on in the station that day. Maybe the crew isn't in the regular uniform because they were out drilling and the company officer in charge allowed them to wear t shirts. Maybe they look like crap becuase they just came back from an incident and had to get "dirty". One or two crew members may have "fuzzy faces" because they caught on OT trick and haven't has time to shave yet.

    Ironically, those who come in and try to boss another's group usually have no control over their own...
    ‎"The education of a firefighter and the continued education of a firefighter is what makes "real" firefighters. Continuous skill development is the core of progressive firefighting. We learn by doing and doing it again and again, both on the training ground and the fireground."
    Lt. Ray McCormack, FDNY

  3. #3
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    The off duty officer is exactly that, "OFF DUTY", in fact as he/she is off duty what are the doing at the fire station???, have they been signed in as a visitor, are they fully accompanied at all times???. If they start on "rules", they need to remember that they work both ways.

  4. #4
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    I see two problems;

    1st - Off duty Officer should not be pulling rank, unless the is some sort of life safety issue. You are kinda like a guest when you "pop in for a cup of joe", act like one. Lst time I checked, watching TV hasn't killed anyone, although long term studies are still in progress.

    2nd - Respect your officers. I don't care what the guy says, he is still a sworn officer, and you need to respect that. Maybe you can try to expalin to him why what is happening is, but if he want to be a ***** about it, then you really don't have a choice. Until he leaves......

    Dave

  5. #5
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    I hear ya Gonz, except that it is NEVER because they were out drilling! Too lazy!

    I was in the military, so I think I'm jaded. To me, it could be an officer from the post all the way around the world telling you you shouldn't be wearing your PT shirt with blue jeans. You're still wrong, and obligated to fix it.

    It's never like you guys are all f'ed up, you need to write yourselves up. It's more like the tone that diplomatic people take to let you know you're wrong without telling you that you are an idiot.

    The excuse is usually: this isn't the Army, f off, this is my shift, my company, I'll run it how I want.

    Which has its merits also...

    How would you handle an infraction of your policies if you came in off duty, whether for coffee or maybe you forgot something?
    ...if you put the handline in the right spot, you won't have to jump out the window...
    -Andy "Nozzles", SQ18, 9-11-01

  6. #6
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    If something is being done against the rules the off duty officer is obligated to mention it to the on duty officer, but he should respect the on duty enough not to tell the firefighters directly.

  7. #7
    MembersZone Subscriber Engine5FF's Avatar
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    Zero
    "What makes a person run into a building others are running out of?...Character."- Dennis Smith

    www.elmirafire.org

  8. #8
    Forum Member Trkco1's Avatar
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    Say an off-duty officer comes in for a cup o'joe or whatever.
    First off, technically, this is a violation of our rules. It's never enforced but it's in our rule book. It states "No off-duty personell are supposed to be in the firehouse during off-duty hours." So the rules work both ways. It is up to the On-duty officer to enforce department policies and make sure his crew complies to them.

    How 'bout your stations? Do your company officers have authority beyond their company?
    If he's off duty, No.
    FTM-PTB-EGH-RFB-KTF

  9. #9
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    I think it depends on the culture of your department. If an officer reacted to something petty here on his day off here, they would soon be labeled as chicken s@&% and start to lose respect from the troops as well as his peers.

  10. #10
    Forum Member MIKEYLIKESIT's Avatar
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    Tell the officer to get his coffee elsewhere and worry about his own shift.

  11. #11
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    Tell the off-duty officer to get a life outside the hall. If he thinks it is disrespectful, tell him he is disrespecting your officer by undermining him. I just can't imagine a guy taking himself so seriously that he would do that. It must be uneasy with him in the hall.

  12. #12
    MembersZone Subscriber SIGNAL99COM's Avatar
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    Default My Vote

    Captain Gonzo already took the words from my mouth!
    Chris Shields
    Lieutenant / EMT
    Haz-Mat Technician
    East Syracuse Fire Dept
    Onondaga County, NY

  13. #13
    Early Adopter cozmosis's Avatar
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    I'm the first to agree that rules are in place for a reason... but I'm also one of the first to say that, many times, there are legitimate reasons to bend or break those rules. When to do such should be left up to the on-duty company officer.

    I worry about any officer who doesn't get his fill of enforcing department regs on his regular shift... And has to come in off duty to do it some more. Sounds like an ego trip to me -- unless, of course, we're talking about big issues (i.e. life safety, etc.).

  14. #14
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    C'Mon Guys!! You mean to tell me you never stop by the station on your day off for a cup of coffee or to visit? What happened to all that talk about Brotherhood and being a family? I am an officer in our Department and I stop in to visit with the guys once in a while. If I see something Really Major I may mention it to the OIC that day, just like I would like him/her to inform me of a potential problem with my shift. I would never undermine the other Officers authority. It is his/her shift and they can choose to handle things the way they see fit. I've been doing this job for 19 years (13 as an Officer) and have never had a problem with another Officer over something like this. Maybe it is because we don't let ego's get in the way. I can only speak for my Dept. but all our Officers work together and watch out for each other. If you can't do it in the firehouse how are you ever going to do it on the fireground? Just as a little side note I pretty much know the routine, I know when it is appropriate to stop by and when it's not(ex: 1300-1500 is usually training, not a good time to stop). I've even had some of the younger guys mention how it's nice to see that the Officers still have a desire to be around the station and enjoy that we stop in and talk about the "good old days". (never thought I'd be saying that, but time sure does fly) I don't know, maybe I'm missing something but I just don't see the big deal here.

  15. #15
    Forum Member Trkco1's Avatar
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    Guys at the house, to include the ON-duty company officer, are in the wrong as far as maybe shaving, or the uniform of the day, or might be watching the idiot box when technically it is off-limits.
    bc3batt: Are these considered "Something Really Major"?

    If I see something Really Major I may mention it to the OIC that day, just like I would like him/her to inform me of a potential problem with my shift.
    FTM-PTB-EGH-RFB-KTF

  16. #16
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    bc3batt.......well said.

    Trk...do some degree I would say that depends on the dept. Busy places probably will get more slack.

    Bottom line.....how many of you have gys who will push this type of stuff just to see how far it can be pushed. Many times guys we are our own worst enemies. An old timer(he'd kill me if he knew I called him that) used to tell me something to keep me honest. "The worst thing they can ever make you do around here is what you are supposed to be doing anyway." Think about it. Common sense issue here, unforunately, common sense is pretty uncommon. Should be called uncommon sense.

    Dave

  17. #17
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    I've been turning this over in my head for a day or so, wondering how I would handle various situations. The easy answer is to say, "It's none of my business, so hands off. I wouldn't want any other officer coming in and telling me how to run my shift." However, there are obviously exceptions to every rule. Are the guys doing something really stupid or dangerous, or something that looks bad in the public eye? We don't know what has gone on prior to our arrival. Maybe they drilled in the morning, not unheard of, and all the housework is squared away. Maybe they have had a busy day, and things are jumbled to hell. That NEVER happens, right? If the situation warrants you saying something to the on-duty officer, obviously the way to handle it is behind closed doors. Dressing down another officer's shift, in front of his guys or without his knowledge is obviously a no-no, no matter what the circumstance. That is one thing I sure would be mad about. I would hope that another officer would use the same judgement if it were my guys "in the wrong". Also, none of us are perfect, no matter how long we have been an officer or how many bugles we have. Guys who have been ripped over something petty will have a long memory, so unless you are second coming of the son of God, (in other words, perfect), leave the petty stuff alone, park the ego, and instead of trying to stir the pot, sit and drink from it with the guys who may be your RIT or back-up line the next time you are working. Anyway, that's my story and I'm sticking to it, so there.
    Leroy140 (yes, THAT Leroy)
    Fairfield, CT, Local 1426
    IACOJ Tillerman

  18. #18
    Senior Member Firebraun's Avatar
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    Some good input there from some obviously good officers. As a 15 year firefighter, I think we in the "peon" ranks have some responsibility for avoiding a situation like that, too.

    It's just common sense to me. When the Captain from another shift "pops in for a cup o' joe" during work hours, you find some work to do. There's always some to be found if you look around for 2 seconds. Won't hurt anyone to get it done at that time, right?

    We get plenty of time in a 24 hour shift to watch TV. If "eyes are watching," as firefighters we ought to know enough to go sweep the dang floor or organize the workbench in the shop or something.

    It'll leave the off duty guy with the impression that you're a good, hard working crew (even if you're not ) and might even make your own officer thankful that you "made him look good." And when you work/live with this guy 56 hours a week, that could go a long way.

    Just my 2 cents, I could be wrong... But I don't think so.
    Fire service survival tips:
    1) Cook at 350...
    2) Pump at 150...
    3) When in doubt, isolate and deny entry...
    4) When in trouble, claim lack of adult supervision.

  19. #19
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    The main reason I posed this was when we have an opening for an officer position and test for it, there is always a "personnel issue" raised to see the candidate's ideas for solving it. My red helmet is way down the road, but I still am tweaking a leadership style for when I earn it.

    I can see something similar to this posed on an exam. I personally would pull the CO of that station aside and ask him why HIS men (firepeople) are in the wrong, and we could BS about how we think it is a stupid rule, but it is there for a reason. I would never discipline someone's company, especially with the CO right there. That's like kicking someone elses dog. You can kick your own dog, that's different. Then the onus is on the CO to fix whatever the problem is, and no one has lost any face.

    I guess.
    ...if you put the handline in the right spot, you won't have to jump out the window...
    -Andy "Nozzles", SQ18, 9-11-01

  20. #20
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    TrkCo1 -- Sorry I didn't reply sonner, I was gone a couple of days. To answer your question, No I don't think these things are major enough to get involved. If I can see these things I am sure the OIC on duty can see them also. Hell there is sometimes I am running late and forget to shave or just got done w/ a project and haven't put my White ( stupid color for the Fire Service ) shirt back on yet. I would only butt in if something life threatening or stupid is going on that NEEDS to be addressed before someone or something gets broken. If I see a real consistent problem w/ a certain individual I may mention something to the OIC in private and let him handle it. As an Officer I do realize that it is hard to see everything that goes on all the time, sometimes its nice to have someone else lokking out also. Besides I don't know where you come from but that free cup of coffee comes in handy on my wage scale !! LOL!! See ya and stay safe.

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