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Thread: Need some Help

  1. #1
    MembersZone Subscriber SHVFD_Asst_Chief's Avatar
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    Default Need some Help

    I have been a lurker in Firehouse Forums for quite a while. I have learned a lot and was able to apply almost all of it. However, I am in need of some advice on how to approach a problem. But first some background:

    I am a former captain of a volunteer fire department. I was fired from my position and suspend for 30 days because I took my truck out of district to get gas, but I was alone. There were reasons, but I will not get into them now and it does not matter any more. I took my punishment and felt it has made me a better firefighter.

    Also, our department by-laws has a stipulation that if you have had any thing to drink and we are paged out, that person should not respond. To my knowledge this did not happen until last night.

    Now the situation:

    We were called to an explosion and possible structure fire. The response team for our engine happened to be the chief, the engine’s captain (who happened to be the driver that night), another firefighter and myself. As it turned out, the call was regarding a controlled burn (the resident put a little too much gas on a wood pile he was burning).

    Anyway, we are getting back in the truck to take off, and the chief states “It smells like beer”. The captain responded that he arrived home before the call and had a beer when we were paged. The chief takes over the driving duties and tells the captain that he should never respond if he had anything to drink, and even worse since he was driving.


    Here’s the problem:

    Should I demand to the chief that the captain be fired and suspended because he violated our by-laws?

    Should I go to the mayor and/or city council member and inform him what happened and demand that action be taken?

    Should I just let it go?


    I prefer not to go to the mayor/city council because I don’t want politics to be involved. We try very hard to keep out of the city politics because we have enough of our own.

    Please let me know what you think. I will be happy to answer any questions you may have regarding our department or the situation.


  2. #2
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    tell the chief if you lose being a captain for getting gas he should also lose being capt for being legally intoxicated and arriving on scene while operating apparatus
    FireSarge
    Joseph Sullivan
    Ohio

    "Any man willing to die in my place is my brother. Any man willing to turn and run is my enemy. Which will you be?"

  3. #3
    MembersZone Subscriber Airborne's Avatar
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    Sounds like a no win situation to me. Damed if you do and Damed if you don't.


    It does not sound like the guy was drunk, but I sure would think that having beer on your breath would be alot worse then going outside of your district to get Gas. I guess with out some more information on the gas thing it is hard to understand this situation.

    But I guess if you feel that it is not going to have a negitive impact on you and you feel that you need to make a point about the rules and the punishment system that your department has in place then yes I would make a big stink out of it. But if you are looking to get back with the department on good standing and don't want to cause any waves then I would not do anything other then maybe ask why what you did was so wrong comparied to what he did.

  4. #4
    MembersZone Subscriber SHVFD_Asst_Chief's Avatar
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    Airborne, Regarding the gas thing here is the story. We had just purchased a brand new truck. I was made the captain of this truck and responsible for getting my crew up to speed on it. One of which was driving. The truck was down to a 1/4 tank of gas and the chief said that it was okay to go and get gas, but he wanted someone from my crew to drive it.

    I called everyone on my crew and even a few FF from our other engine company, but no one was available. Since the truck was in-service already, I felt that it should have a full tank of gas. Since our district does not have diesel gas, I had to go out of district. My demotion and suspension was for taking the truck out of district alone. I thought I was taking initative, but was mistaken. As I said, I have learned my lesson. Also, this occured in April last year.

    Although I am not a captain anymore (and glad about that), I had never really lost the respect of the department. A few people yes, but the majority no. As a matter of fact, the chief has made me the training coordinator for our department. I think I have gained more respect in the last 6 months since I took over training than the previous 2 years as a captain. (Yes the first 6 months after the incident I just kept quite and did not make waves.)

    You are correct, he was not drunk. Just in voliation of our by-laws, and I feel that having beer-breathe makes a really bad impression of our department, and of volunteers. I take great pride in the fact that I am a firefighter, and don't what the public thinking that all volunteers do is drink beer than fight fires.

    I could let another FF bring it up, but I don't want someone else to fight my battles.

    Hope that helps explain some of it, if you need more let me know.

  5. #5
    Forum Member RyanEMVFD's Avatar
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    my general opinion is if you are not involved in the discipline program, stay out of it. is this the first time the bylaws haven't been followed or is this a frequent occurence? but if you feel justice hasn't been done then sit down and talk with the chief.
    NREMT-P\ Reserve Volunteer Firefighter\Reserve Police Officer
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    Experts built the Titanic, amateurs built the Ark.

  6. #6
    MembersZone Subscriber N2DFire's Avatar
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    Whooo Boy is this ever one of my BIGGEST pet peeves - even before becoming Captain of my Vollie Rescue Squad the enforcement of Bylaws and the Constitution was something I was VERY vocal and adamant about.

    Here's my basic philosophy on the matter:
    1) The membership as a whole at some point agreed to have & abide by these Bylaws so everyone should know the rules.
    2) Bylaws are to be applied to EVERYONE equally. They are not to be ignored when it's convenient. If you have a particular rule on the books that get's consistently "overlooked" - then remove it, otherwise enforce it same as the others.
    3) Punishment for violations should also be metered out equally.


    Now for this case.

    You violated the Bylaws and were punished for it. Whether or not your punishment fit the crime I will leave open for debate, however that is not the issue at hand.

    This other Captain has also violated the Bylaws and should also be punished for it - Period. If it's O.K. for him to respond with alcohol on his breath - then take the rule out of the Bylaws - otherwise enforce it. (Item 2 above - rules apply to everyone)

    You were stripped of rank & suspended 30 days for violating the Bylaws - this other member should get no less. (Item 3 above - enforcement & punishment is fair and equal)

    I would suggest you bring this up to your Chief privately, if you get no results there, then you can try bringing it up to the membership as a whole verses taking matters outside the firehouse.

    If that fails to yield results then I am sorry to say you are stuck in one of the many "Good Ole Boy" establishments and things are likely never to change.
    Take Care - Stay Safe - God Bless
    Stephen
    FF/Paramedic
    Instructor

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    MembersZone Subscriber Airborne's Avatar
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    I would have to agree with N2DFire 100% on this.

  8. #8
    MembersZone Subscriber SHVFD_Asst_Chief's Avatar
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    Default Thank you all

    I would like to thank FireSarge, Airborne, RyanEMVFD and N2DFire for helping me with my problem.

    I talked to our chief and tried to remain calm and focused. I asked if there was going to be any disciplinary action taken against the captain. He informed me that there will be but he is going to wait a week because he is hoping to get something else on him.

    He would not eloborate, and I did not ask. In addition, he would not tell me what action he was going to take. To be fair, he told me he did not discuss what action he was going to take against me when I screwed up. I am sure that it will be something similar.

    Once again thanks for this advise and everything else I learned here.

    Stay Safe.

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    you welcome and dont worry if he said he shall punish him then just sit back and wait if he doesnt do something after that wek or so is up then bring it up
    FireSarge
    Joseph Sullivan
    Ohio

    "Any man willing to die in my place is my brother. Any man willing to turn and run is my enemy. Which will you be?"

  10. #10
    Forum Member Bones42's Avatar
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    I also agree, rules are rules. Everyone knows them and everyone agrees to follow them. I do, however, think your punishments are a little tough! Going to get fuel means suspension of 30 days and loss of rank? That seems awfully harsh to me.

    Stay safe.
    "This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?

  11. #11
    MembersZone Subscriber SHVFD_Asst_Chief's Avatar
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    First of all, no I am not going to just take the chief's word. If I have not heard about any action by the time I get back from the Combat Challenge (May 4), then I will bring it back up to him.

    Also, at the time I thought that my punishment was too severe. But it turned out to be a blessing. Not having to worry about the Engine and personnel allowed me time to focus on bettering my firefighting skills. I took more classes in the first 9 months than I did in the two years I was captain.

    Because of that, I was able to see what was wrong with our training and convinced the chief that a lot of changes needed to be made. Last January, he appointed me as the training coordinator. Within 2 months, I had the entire years worth of drills, classes and backups planned. I have also been told by the chief and assistant chiefs that I am doing a great job.

    If I am offered a promotion again, I will refuse it. I am doing more good in my present position than I can ever do as a captain.

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