1. #1
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    Post Tennessee Fire Dept. Regulations...OR the lack of

    Alan Farley, Fire Chiefs Assoc.
    "There's no definition of a fire department in state law..."

    NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - The Tennessee Fire Chiefs Association is
    pushing for state oversight of fire departments, which the
    association says are unregulated and a potential threat to public
    safety.
    "I could open a 'fire department' now in my garage, not have
    any training, not have any equipment, but be considered a fire
    department," said Alan Farley, who represents the Fire Chiefs
    Association.
    The association is behind a bill in the Tennessee General
    Assembly that would require departments to register with the state
    fire marshal's office. Also, their local government would have to
    approve their territory, and they would have to begin making
    quarterly fire incident reports to the state in three years.
    "There's no definition of a fire department in state law,"
    said Farley, who contends the lack of regulation puts lives in
    danger and leaves the door open to conflict. "This is to try to
    get everybody on the same page."
    Currently, the state fire marshal's office is aware of about 49
    paid departments, 530 volunteer departments and 102 that are a
    combination of volunteers and paid staff. But it has no way of
    knowing for sure how many fire departments are operating.
    While the association's bill would stop "any Tom, Dick and
    Harry" from proclaiming themselves a fire department, its failure
    to require training is a shortcoming, said Wayne Romesburg, chief
    of operations for Maury Rural Fire and Rescue, a county-funded,
    volunteer fire department.
    "By not requiring training, the bill is mainly a revenue bill,
    just making money for the state."
    Under the bill, departments would have to pay $50 every three
    years to register.
    "You don't see the state requiring police departments to pay
    any kind of registration fee," Romesburg said.
    Training and equipment, including a pumper and two respirators,
    were mandated in the original bill, but lawmakers in both House and
    Senate committees amended these out.
    While most viewed the fee as reasonable to help pay to log
    information, they said the equipment would be too costly.
    "Volunteer departments are doing really well, and I hate to put
    any more burden on them," Sen. Rosalind Kurita, D-Clarksville,
    said in a Senate State and Local Government Committee meeting.
    Some firefighters also worry that the change would smother
    dedicated volunteer fire departments in paperwork.
    "If they had something simple to fill out, we wouldn't mind,"
    said Kelly Holmes, chief of the Madison County Volunteer Fire
    Department.
    The form is one page, but an 80-page document gives the codes
    that must be put into the report, he said.
    Still, having all departments register and fill out standardized
    forms on each fire "would be very helpful," said Dana Turner,
    state fire information officer.
    Not only would it show who is out there, data would help
    determine how to better protect people from fires, she said.
    At almost 29 fire deaths per million people, the state was No. 2
    after Alabama in 1999, the most recent year available from the
    National Fire Protection Association. The states with the lowest
    number of fire deaths were New Hampshire and Hawaii, at less than 2
    deaths per million.
    Ray Crouch, fire department management consultant for the
    University of Tennessee, says getting a clear picture of where and
    why fires occur is "absolutely boilerplate essential."
    Plus, he said, reporting makes a department eligible for more
    grant money.
    "Right now, the fire service in Tennessee is so fragmented that
    we don't even know how many fire departments there are," said
    Crouch, a former Kingston Springs volunteer department fire chief.
    "This is to raise the bottom rung just a teeny bit."
    ---
    On the Net:
    Tennessee General Assembly, http://www.legislature.state.tn.us/


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    What's interesting here is that, in many areas, FD's fight against state regulation. NJ's fight went on for years and years. This is a credit to the TN Fire Chief's that they have recognized a problem and want to proactively deal with it.

  3. #3
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    Question Here we go again..............

    While the requirement to register hardly seems like a problem, watch the penalties for not doing so. In Maryland, we don't have a problem with knowing who's who, the combination of being a physically small state, and with a very active Fire/Rescue service, we have a handle on what's going on. Several things in Tennessee would concern me. The fee is unneccessary as far as I am concerned, The lack of BASIC training requirements, and the State approving territories all look like problems to me. Stay Safe...
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    Yeah...just try and mandate training and physical requirements here and listen to the volunteers scream (and some paid departments, too). I've been an advocate for training and physical requirements here in my county for years. Our citizens, no matter what the size of community, deserve a timely response to their emergencies by trained and qualified personnel who are in good enough physical condition to do the job properly. I personally believe it's time the State and local government took control of many of these departments, which I consider "loose cannons" and start providing oversight, instead of looking the other way as long as they are getting cheap "fire protection." The days of a bunch of farmers showing up with some cobbled up, home-made truck and squirting water through a window with a booster line are over. I realize that, in days gone by, people in the community made do with what they had. But there is no excuse for any firefighter to be out of shape or untrained. Physical fitness is a personal issue than can be resolved with no investment at all. Yet, time and time again, we see "firefighters" responding to our neighbor's fires who are grossly overweight and/or out of shape. The Tennessee Fire and Codes Academy (a state of the art facility) is now open and offers a large course of classes that are within the budget of ANY fire department, volunteer or otherwise. Many of these courses are offered as "satellite" programs where the instructors will come to a local department to do the training as long as there is a minimum number of students signed up. However, this is the problem. Many of the fire departments in my area have majority of members who have had NO formal training as firefighters. Several of these fire departments have been invited by our department to attend training sessions with us, many times free of charge. Yet, time and time again, they refuse. These departments are more like political good ol' boys clubs and they don't answer to anyone. I feel this MUST change, and soon. People deserve a trained and professional minded fire department. If the volunteers can't or won't step up to offer this, then they should be abolished and a county controlled fire department established that can.

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    Default Re: Here we go again..............

    Originally posted by hwoods
    and the State approving territories all look like problems to me.
    Hmmm...must have missed a couple words...

    Originally posted by NJFFSA16
    Also, their local government would have to approve their territory
    Operative word here is "local", which tends to mean town/city/county government. However, they did not specify what "local government" was...I'm assuming that Tennessee, like many other Southern states, has county government. Could anyone else see this little bit as a battle between town and county?
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    Red face Oops..............

    I screwed up. No Excuse. But, yes, I see "Turf Wars" down the road if this is not handled right..... Stay Safe....
    Never use Force! Get a Bigger Hammer.
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    Yes...I certainly see there would be turf wars. Some form of organization and control is necessary from what I read. They may have the right idea but it seems to me they have not done the homework yet. They need to work together to get a plan in place that all can understand and live with.
    09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
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    Default Re: Re: Here we go again..............

    Originally posted by Adze39


    Operative word here is "local", which tends to mean town/city/county government. However, they did not specify what "local government" was...I'm assuming that Tennessee, like many other Southern states, has county government. Could anyone else see this little bit as a battle between town and county?
    Actually every municipality in Tennessee has a "20 year planning boundary" which must be approved by the respective county. No overlaps permitted. This would tend to reduce the infighting over FD territory though nothing's perfect.

    Many counties have no fire protection other than what is provided by municipalities.

    This could be the beginning of some really progressive moves for the fire service in Tennesse if it doesn't get squashed by the politicians.

    (Posted from the upper left-hand corner of Tennessee
    )
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  9. #9
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    Post UPDATE October 2003

    CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) - The state fire marshal's office hopes
    a law that went into effect in July will help define how many fire
    departments are working across the state and increase their
    training and competence.
    The law requires all Tennessee fire departments, whether paid or
    volunteer, to register with the fire marshal's office. State and
    regional fire officials believe the requirement was long overdue
    with heightened homeland security in the wake of the Sept. 11,
    2001, terrorist attacks.
    "We didn't even know where all the fire departments were,"
    said Ray Crouch, fire management consultant with the Municipal
    Technical Advisory Service. "All these others are coming out of
    the woodwork now that they have to register."
    The new regulations could also help reduce "turf battles" and
    eliminate untrained departments that exist mainly to solicit money.
    "Right now, some fire departments exist, and we don't know they
    exist, and they don't get any information from us," Jimmy
    Thompson, president of the Tennessee Fire Chiefs Association, told
    the Chattanooga Times Free Press. "But it was just the minimum of
    what needs to be done."
    The legislation was sponsored by state fire chiefs, fire safety
    inspectors and firefighters, Crouch said.
    Under the law, fire departments can operate or raise money only
    after submitting a registration application and a $50 fee. A
    "certificate of recognition" is required by the end of the year
    and renewed every three years.
    Also, a new fire department cannot be established until it
    receives approval from the local elected governing body in the area
    the proposed department will serve.
    Tennessee was ranked second in the nation for its fire-death
    rate by the National Fire Prevention Association. The state's
    fire-death rate is double the national average, the group said.
    Before the new law, there was no registration program. The state
    relied on the voluntary Tennessee Fire Incident Reporting System to
    estimate the number of departments, said Dana Turner, spokeswoman
    for the fire marshal's office of fire prevention.
    Surveys by the University of Tennessee make Crouch believe there
    are 684 fire departments in the state. He said he's eager to
    compare the numbers with the state's formal list once it is
    available.
    Emmett Turner, assistant commissioner of fire prevention with
    the Department of Commerce and Insurance, wrote a letter to fire
    chiefs across the state and said he believes the new law will
    prevent turf battles between departments.
    "Recently, volunteer fire departments have clashed over
    fighting fires in disputed areas, and some fire departments have
    raised money in areas another department serves," he wrote.
    Volunteer fire departments also need to "raise the bar" on
    their uniform training procedures, Crouch said.
    "We are sending people out with no training and expecting them
    to perform the same job" as paid firefighters, he said.
    Some officials believe new requirements could eliminate certain
    volunteer departments, forcing higher costs in areas that would
    have to replace their coverage with paid, well-trained
    firefighters.
    Paul West, chief for the Jasper Fire Department, said many
    volunteers do not receive medical insurance or worker's
    compensation. In addition to the lack of personal "incentives,"
    West said these departments often fend for themselves in supplying
    the materials needed to combat fires.
    "They operate on a shoestring budget and by the grace of God,"
    said West, who added that 13 of the 19 fire departments in Marion
    County are made up of volunteers. "They can barely pay for gas in
    their trucks."
    Crouch said lawmakers are loath to regulate volunteer fire
    departments because they are a money-saving tool for the state.
    "The government backed away because it was saving Tennessee
    literally millions and millions of dollars by having these
    volunteer fire departments," he said.
    About 70 percent of firefighters in the state are volunteers,
    according to the fire marshal's office.
    ---
    On the Net:
    State Fire Marshal's Office:
    http://www.state.tn.us/commerce/sfm/index.html

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  10. #10
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    "They operate on a shoestring budget and by the grace of God,"
    "They can barely pay for gas in their trucks"
    Oh, puh-leeeze...I'm so sick of hearing excuses like this. The whole point of regulating fire departments is to keep track of who and where they are located in the State. This is the first step in getting the help that they all say they need, and they fight it because they might have to give up some of their precious power or they might have to fill out all those horrible forms (TFIRS) for those 3 house fires they run a year. If you can't keep "gas in the trucks," then you have a problem and don't need to be running a fire department.
    Crouch said lawmakers are loath to regulate volunteer fire departments because they are a money-saving tool for the state.
    Now that's the truth. I commend the people in our great state who push for legislation like this. I am disgusted with the spineless politicians who refuse to back these forward-thinking people because they are afraid the volunteer, good ol' boy political machine will run them out of office on a rail. The people are the ones to suffer in the end. All because volunteers don't want to be bothered with (gasp!) paperwork. Pride goes before the fall.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: UPDATE October 2003

    Originally posted by NJFFSA16
    CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) -
    Volunteer fire departments also need to "raise the bar" on
    their uniform training procedures, Crouch said.
    "We are sending people out with no training and expecting them
    to perform the same job" as paid firefighters, he said.
    Some officials believe new requirements could eliminate certain
    volunteer departments, forcing higher costs in areas that would
    have to replace their coverage with paid, well-trained
    firefighters.

    About 70 percent of firefighters in the state are volunteers,
    according to the fire marshal's office.

    Can anyone explain this??? What in the hell does a paycheck have to do with the quality of training?? Before anyone thinks I'm starting a Paid - Volunteer fight, I'm not. This is a Trained - Untrained Discussion ONLY. As a Retired Career Firefighter/Officer, now a Volunteer Chief Officer, Who happens to hold National Pro Board Certificates as a Fire Officer IV and Instructor III, I take great exception to the idea that "Paid" automatically equates with "Trained". I shouldn't assume anything, so I'll guess that this remark was formulated by a paid, but untrained, public relations staffer in a Government office. This is one place where we ALL need to spend time educating the citizens about who we are, and how well trained we are, (or aren't) and why. Stay Safe....
    Never use Force! Get a Bigger Hammer.
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  12. #12
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    Taking it down to fundementals, information like who your fire department is would be needed to implement an E-911 system.

    Instead of collecting $50 fees from fire departments, you could add pennies to a phone bill to pay for E-911, regional dispatch/PSAP centers, and conducting the survey.

    ============
    Training to handle your basic firefighting ain't that difficult. It's a shame we don't do it better. Single family homes, cars, barns, brush fires aren't exactly rocket science -- know a few fundementals well and you can handle them.

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    Can anyone explain this??? What in the hell does a paycheck have to do with the quality of training??
    In Tennessee, a LOT. I have been fortunate to travel and visit my brothers and sisters in the "north." The whole attitude towards volunteer firefighting is COMPLETELY different there. Here, it often resembles the Hillbilly Olympics. Sure, the blame lies in several different places. But, in my experience (I used to be a volunteer several years ago), it is mostly the fault of the fire department that they are not trained. Of course, some are better than others. But, the overall condition of the volunteer fire service in Tennessee is terrible, in my opinion. The money is here. Most counties could afford to manage a paid fire department, or at least a well-equipped, well-trained, volunteer system.

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    Let's see; we're talking about Al Gore's home state. Right?
    That said; require ALL fire departments to register with the state fire marshal; require all volunteer departments to be non-profit to receive grant funding; require all volunteer departments to submit a copy of their by-laws or names of their boards of trustees; require them to use NFIRS for each incident and if they don't want to do that, then take their stuff, give it to the county and let the county fold it into their county public safety plan.
    I know that I simplify it too much, but the point is that someone has got to do something and the Tennessee Chiefs are trying to. The ones who resist this will be the ones who show up for parades, but will be entirely too busy to roll up hose. They will cook pork chops and drink gallons of beer, but they won't give up eight hours on a Saturday to learn fire behavior or building construction or water supply, forcible entry. "Shoot; I jus joined to fot fars. I dint know we had to learnt a whole bunch a junk."
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    The original legislation, as proposed, contained quite a bit more than the watered down version that got passed. There was a lot of bitching and moaning about the $50 and the TFIRS requirements, too.

    It's a small step in the right direction, but it looks a lot better on paper than it really is.

    (FWIW, the $50 is intended ONLY to cover the administrative cost of the fire department registration pogram.)
    ullrichk
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    (FWIW, the $50 is intended ONLY to cover the administrative cost of the fire department registration pogram.)
    Which it probably doesn't. It is a small step forward; let's just hope the "good ol' boys" don't take three backwards anytime soon.

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    Hello Guys, I've seen first hand Department's that suffers from some of the same things that have been talked about, its a good old boys country club, they sit around and b/s on meeting nights and every now and then put a wet stuff on the red stuff, then pat each other on the back and tell each other how good they are, and I'm sick of it. Its time the state does something with the fire service in Tn. I know depts that dont even have insurance on there trucks and the county looks the other way. By the way if I can deal with the tfirs and nfirs anyone can, if your in Tn, call The Department of Commerce and Insurance and they will help you, I didnt know anything about it until I called them they fixed us right up. We are filing online it easy.

  18. #18
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    Smile Thanks..........

    Nozzleman, Thanks for the info...... I have a son and daughter in law living in Wilson County, and when we visited, I was able to look in on a couple of area Depts. (Mt Juliet and Lebanon) and they seemed to be first rate organizations. I stopped by Watertown also, but it was a weekday afternoon, and as is typical with a totally Volunteer station, no one was around. Next trip, I'll give you a heads up and then see if I can find Jefferson City on my way thru. Stay Safe....
    Never use Force! Get a Bigger Hammer.
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    I would be most honored if you did. We don't have too much for you to look at, but please stop by if you get a chance! I would also like to stress that I'm not directing my comments towards any department in particular. The problems we have in Tennessee should be reviewed on a case-by-case issue to solve them. Having at least some form of centralized consensus within our own state would be a great place to start. Money (or the lack thereof) is only part of the problem. The entire attitude towards the fire service and professionalism needs to be addressed in a lot of departments. Many departments are fortunate enough to have very nice equipment and apparatus; however, they are nowhere near the level of skill, physical fitness, and training they should be. Some departments actually do operate on a "shoestring," but still find ways to train and actively seek to better their performance. These departments will implement new life-saving techniques (such as RIT operations) and train all their people on them. Even though firefighters like this may be forced to use gear that's 15 years old, they are far more professional than some department with all the toys, but nobody knows where the hell anything is on a truck (or how to use it properly), because they haven't had a decent training in five years (if ever). I have experienced the frustration of arriving on structure fires and nobody is in charge (don't want to hurt anyone's feelings, now would we?), no set procedure is being followed (ie: shuttle ops started, ventilation/suppression), no accountability for personnel or equipment, "firefighters" trying to start chainsaws that haven't been started in months, "firefighters" chasing smoke around with booster lines at every window, "firefighters" fumbling with PPE and SCBA that they have no excuse for not knowing how to use immediately, broken/missing equipment (Uncle Bubba had to borrow the chainsaw off Engine 13 to cut down Granny's ol' apple trees and didn't bother to put it back), equipment with no water/gasoline in it (Cousin Lester borrowed the PPV fan to cool down Uncle Bubba's chickens last week and "forgot" to top off the gas), lack of mutual aid agreements or using them in an efficient, timely manner because Chief So-and-So at the neighboring department is a low-down, chicken stealing SOB who couldn't put out a match in a swimming pool...the list goes on and on.

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    I am VERY interested in how all of this turns out. As many of you know, you could replace "Tennessee" with "Pennsylvania" in all of these news articles (and posts). Hopefully, this will start a trend and give PA a model to follow.

    Stay Safe

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    "Shoot; I jus joined to fot fars. I dint know we had to learnt a whole bunch a junk."
    Boy ---I've heard this before!

    "When you are safe at home, you wish you were having an adventure-when you're having an adventure, you wish you were safe at home"

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    One thing everyone is forgetting that this is about volunteering. I'm sorry that I work three to four jobs one being a career firefighter and get to spend a couple of hours a month at the VFD because I'm trying to make it in this world. The only thing I've got different than many other volunteers in TN is that I do have some formal training, a lot of guys don't have that opportunity to get any training because they have LIVES too ( Oh I'm sorry is that an excuse). In Washington County we have been trying for about 10 years to get some paid people in each VFD because we actually care about the citizens, the county executive ( who used to be a vollie) doesn't want to give up any money, most of the county commission could care less. The citizens could care less in most of TN because us good ol' boys are getting the job done the best way possible just like everyone else.
    I haven't heard the first person complain about the paper work, most of our guys are willing to do it but just don't know how yet.
    What is $50, who really cares about it.
    I also really hate other firefighter, especially from our own state bashing other firefighters especially if they think their s%!t don't stink.


    These are my views and I am an overweight, farmboy, working everyday, union proud, FIREFIGHTER with a southern drawl.

  23. #23
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    keysim33 What department/departments are you a member of, cause I too live in Johnson City. Just wonderin, we might be able to get together sometime.

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    Johnson City and Sulphur Springs.

  25. #25
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    Unhappy And More.....

    Originally posted by PAVolunteer
    I am VERY interested in how all of this turns out. As many of you know, you could replace "Tennessee" with "Pennsylvania" in all of these news articles (and posts). Hopefully, this will start a trend and give PA a model to follow.

    Stay Safe

    There may be about 48 other State names that would fit some, if not all, of those descriptions. There are FDs, (Not necessarily Volunteer) who just don't get it right for whatever reason. In one major metropolitan area, Fire/Rescue/EMS is provided by a Fully career department in the Core city, with the surrounding counties being combination departments. One county averages a second alarm every 3 weeks for a fire in a single family dwelling. The next county over has not struck a second on a SFD since October 1987! Problems in our business aren't all Rural Volunteers, by any means. Stay Safe....
    Never use Force! Get a Bigger Hammer.
    In memory of
    Chief Earle W. Woods, 1912 - 1997
    Asst. Chief John R. Woods Sr. 1937 - 2006

    IACOJ Budget Analyst

    I Refuse to be a Spectator. If I come to the Game, I'm Playing.

    www.gdvfd18.com

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