Thread: Moral Issues

  1. #1
    Junior Member

    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Location
    BC
    Posts
    6

    Default Moral Issues

    Hi all

    I am looking for some input, we have has some problems with members missing practise and calls and such, everytime you ask why all you hear was I was working or busy, the department does not feel like a family or anything, we have tried numerous things to get more involvement but nothing has worked. I know you will get conflicts once on a while but it seems to be getting worse with no sign of any change. We have about 35 members in 4 halls and its all volunteer. We have tried everything to rewarding people to having night's out with the members but we still don't have to many people joining in, it always seems to be the same half a dozen doing more then anyone else. Anyone have some ideas or suggestions on what to try thanks for taking the time to read this.

    Dave

  2. #2
    MembersZone Subscriber

    Join Date
    Jul 1999
    Location
    Flanders, NJ
    Posts
    13,537

    Default

    This is NOT a moral issue. This is a leadership issue.

    My sugfgestion is to get some leadership in there instead of trying to beg and bribe people to come and do things.

  3. #3
    Forum Member
    DennisTheMenace's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Location
    Washington, DC/Northern Virginia
    Posts
    3,717

    Default

    Every volunteer or social organiztion is like that. It holds a higher presidence in the lives of some members then it does in others. It is natural and human. If you find it is important to makes sure that those that are not showing up do, look at what other things they have going on and adjust to that, if they don't come back on board with that, then drop them from the rolls.

  4. #4
    Junior Member

    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Location
    BC
    Posts
    6

    Default

    Originally posted by GeorgeWendtCFI
    This is NOT a moral issue. This is a leadership issue.

    My sugfgestion is to get some leadership in there instead of trying to beg and bribe people to come and do things.
    Sorry I should have given some examples, we have some members that will refuse to work with other members because they do not get along outside of the department.

    We are short on members if the the chief starts throwing them out we will be in more trouble then before. We try and line things up but no one shows half the time, I was just looking for some suggestions. As far as I am concerned I want to throw out half the department but thats just me

  5. #5
    Forum Member
    DennisTheMenace's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Location
    Washington, DC/Northern Virginia
    Posts
    3,717

    Default

    Originally posted by Bosco26


    Sorry I should have given some examples, we have some members that will refuse to work with other members because they do not get along outside of the department.

    We are short on members if the the chief starts throwing them out we will be in more trouble then before. We try and line things up but no one shows half the time, I was just looking for some suggestions. As far as I am concerned I want to throw out half the department but thats just me
    Since it is a volunteer orginization that folks can quit unlike the military, you have to make adjustments to them. Is everyone assigened ot a specific hall? Have the chief assigne folks by personality, very grade schoolish, but you do what you got to do.

  6. #6
    Junior Member

    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Location
    BC
    Posts
    6

    Default

    Ya we have four different halls and you are posted to the one that you live by, some of the other halls are like a 20 - 30min drive away of course then I am sure members would quit having to use that much gas. I told the chief that the members are acting like a bunch of kindergarden kids, I just wanted to vent and hope someone would have some ideas or they have gone through this as well.

  7. #7
    MembersZone Subscriber

    Join Date
    Jul 1999
    Location
    Flanders, NJ
    Posts
    13,537

    Default

    Originally posted by Bosco26


    Sorry I should have given some examples, we have some members that will refuse to work with other members because they do not get along outside of the department.

    We are short on members if the the chief starts throwing them out we will be in more trouble then before. We try and line things up but no one shows half the time, I was just looking for some suggestions. As far as I am concerned I want to throw out half the department but thats just me
    Getting people from different backgrounds to work and play together in the sandbox is also not a moral issue. Do the great organizations you know of have people from the same backgrounds who like each other? Of course not.

    A leader, not a supervisor, but a leader, has to transcend all the interpersonal crap that goes on in any organization. The leader will have to cultivate a new corporate culture within the FD. That will not happen overnight. He will have to get the members to buy into the new culture.

    I also didn't say anything about throwing people out.

  8. #8
    Forum Member
    HeavyRescueTech's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    New Jersey
    Posts
    2,460

    Default

    I think he means it's a morale issue, not a moral issue.
    If my basic HazMat training has taught me nothing else, it's that if you see a glowing green monkey running away from something, follow that monkey!

    FF/EMT/DBP

  9. #9
    Junior Member

    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Location
    BC
    Posts
    6

    Default

    Ya thats what I ment sorry bad spelling


    I know that most of it comes from leadership but this has been going on for over 2 years you would think people would grow up sooner or later, not to mention we have lost a few members because of all of this. I tell ya some days it just doesn't pay to get out of bed in the morning lol

  10. #10
    MembersZone Subscriber

    Join Date
    Jul 1999
    Location
    Flanders, NJ
    Posts
    13,537

    Default

    Originally posted by Bosco26
    Ya thats what I ment sorry bad spelling


    I know that most of it comes from leadership but this has been going on for over 2 years you would think people would grow up sooner or later, not to mention we have lost a few members because of all of this. I tell ya some days it just doesn't pay to get out of bed in the morning lol
    Morale is different. But the answer is still kind of the same.

    It sounds, from a morale standpoint, that there are people who are undermining the leadership. That cannot be permitted. It will eventually drive the good people out.

  11. #11
    Junior Member

    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Location
    BC
    Posts
    6

    Default

    Ya I totally agree someone needs to take a stand.

  12. #12
    MembersZone Subscriber
    BurnCMSFD's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2001
    Location
    Wasilla, Alaska
    Posts
    114

    Default Issues

    Bosco,hows about doing a little eval from the department folks and try to do in a non identifying way, like computer based. Ask them different questions, about leadership, about training, about benifits that are offered or not, about the equipment, about how they think they could fix these problems. Or what they would like to see to motivate them to come to training.
    Then compile these and see if you can find the root of the problems, if there personal, administrative, operational.
    Some of the answers you may not like, cause the may say that you or others are the root of the problem. Be prepared.
    It definately sounds like a leadership problem, not knowing your status or if you have a dinosaur chief, or a training officer that isn't innovative, for us to offer suggestions to you is tough.
    Everyone has different desires and needs,(Maslow) and come from different cultures to bring all together for the purpose of reaching a common goal takes a good leader.
    Dont get to emotional about ( I want to throw half of them out) this is not going to get you anywhere.
    Just my two cents
    Good Luck
    burn
    Burn<br />LT/EMT/Inst />Central Mat-Su FD<br />Wasilla Alaska

  13. #13
    MembersZone Subscriber

    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Posts
    131

    Default

    Join the club we have 40 members and the same 15 show up for everything, we do what we can and use the other members when they do show up.That's why it's called volunteer you don't have to be there.

  14. #14
    Senior Member

    Join Date
    Apr 2004
    Posts
    136

    Default

    We have about 35 members and the same 10 show up for meetings, training, and most calls. In our department, when someone hasn't been coming around for a while, an officer will put a lot of pressure on them and give them the message that they need to either show up or turn in their gear and pager. But I understand you are in a different situation since you have so few members. I think your officers need to do some research on some good recruitment/retention ideas.

    It is an absolute shame hearing about FFs that will not work with other FFs. I get along with everybody in my dept, but there used to be a new cocky FF that I could not stand. I got into it with him a few times, but that never stopped us from working together. And if he was in trouble in a fire, even though I could not stand him, I would have put my life on the line for him just like I would any of the others. Hope he would have done the same for me.

  15. #15
    Junior Member

    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Posts
    28

    Default

    Burncmsfd is leading you down the right road. The problems between people did not stop them from joining or being accepted into membership in the first place, so it shouldn't effect their participation. As a vol. chief I have found that the QUALITY and RELEVANCE of training along with well planned meetings help to keep the attendance up. A posted training schedule that is adhered to, vehicle maintenance assignments that have to be done prior to the training, and assignments of one or two people to furnish refreshments for the meeting helps. Leadership is the key and when someone is leading instead of pushing their weight around much more will get done. When one joins the volunteer military they do not have the option of not showing up. Each person has their place and they know that the whole depends on the parts. Good luck, and keep us posted.

  16. #16
    MembersZone Subscriber
    ROOKIELZ's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    Canada
    Posts
    1,650

    Unhappy

    We have the same problem.
    My morale gets low when I hear that because I do not do interior attack I am not a FF. Oddly enough, when there is something that needs to be done that isn't a "glory" job, you don't see the "interior" folks. I get the impression it is beneath their dignity.
    I show up for everything possible and I have a whole bunch of things that I do that I'm sure no one notices. I console myself with the thought that it is part of my contribution. I try to help to keep things running smoothly. The only way I think it would be noticed if I was gone is if someone else had to pick up the slack and that would be the same 7 or 8 guys and they do more than their share as it is. What else can I do? That's my choice.

    Right now, I'm really ripped because there are 3 guys that I haven't seen in a year (no exaggeration) that are hoarding pagers. We are desparately short of pagers. I feel entitled to one because I show up consistantly . I figure the Chief should make a home visit and collect these pagers with the assurance that these guys will be re-assigned a pager after more attendance at calls and practices. The answer to that thought was that we don't want to **** them off
    because they show up sometimes. Well, I do the paperwork and the answer to that one is Oh no they don't!! The joy of being at the bottom of the ladder (HAHA) is that I have to listen to Officers. So here I sit figuratively grumbling away at the keyboard........

    Now, after reading all the posts, I realize we are all in the same boat. We can either row it or jump overboard.
    I'm going to row because I love the job.

  17. #17
    MembersZone Subscriber

    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    Wisconsin
    Posts
    57

    Default

    Bosco, It comes as no surprise that you are in the same situation that a lot of departments are experiencing. Ours as well.

    I'm assuming that your department might work like many others that I know of. You have a certain annual percentage of calls, trainings, work-nights, etc. that you must show up for to be in compliance. We do in our department and for the most part they are very easy to accomodate. What happens if you fall under the requirements? You sit down with an officer and see where you can make it up. Some guys with difficult work and family schedules might have a tailored plan for them. All-in-all it's pretty fair for everyone.

    The problem comes with members that fit the personality type that it seems like you're describing. The one who gripes about everything and everyone. They don't like working with this guy or don't feel "safe" around that guy. They feel they might know more than anyone else and that their ideas are never accepted. And through all of their apparent hardships they never discuss it with anyone who they should be bringing it up to. They just Whine to other members or just elect not to show up at all. I don't think it's a stretch for me to say that we all might know someone like that.

    Well unfortunately we had to let go a few individuals that fit that description. Don't misunderstand me, It's not like we just up and "fired" them. We tried on several occasions to contact them by phone and letter to inform them of their status and wanted to work with them to bring their requirement percentage back up again. We did this all to no avail. Two resigned and the others were informed that we were forced to drop them from the membership.

    Pretty harsh for a volunteer department huh? Even though I am not an officer, nor did I have anything to do with our department moving forward and doing this, I feel it was the right decision. I know that I'm going to catch flack from some of you guys (Truck 106) when you feel strongly that you can't do that in a volunteer department since that's what we are, "volunteers" and we show up when we can. This issue goes beyond that. These are individuals who could eventually compromise the safety and lives of others if they do not show up to train and be a part of the department like the rest of us.

    I myself don't have everything in common with all of the guys in my company. I may disagree with them from time to time. But I still choose to stay because of the love for the job. Not because I get along with so-and-so outside the department. We know that the lowered roster is going to hurt a bit for now. We're hoping that with a new screening process and more diligence in our recruiting we will some day overcome this.

  18. #18
    Senior Member

    Join Date
    Apr 2004
    Posts
    136

    Default

    Keep your spirits up, RookieLZ. I don't like the way your chief runs things. But that's not your fault.

    And anyone who tells you that you're not a firefighter because you don't do interior attack is an idiot who probably is lacking in self-esteem. Tell those "macho" interior FFs on your department that they couldn't fight the fire if the others didn't do their part - particularly the engineer or whoever is at the pump panel. Them saying you're not a real firefighter is exactly the same as a running back telling his offensive line they're not real football players because they don't carry the ball across the goal line and score the points. Interior attack can't do their job without the exterior guys and a running back can't do what he is supposed to with his O-Line.

  19. #19
    MembersZone Subscriber
    ROOKIELZ's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    Canada
    Posts
    1,650

    Default

    Thank-you for your support.
    I do what I can and try to take the load off the others that have been giving 150% for years. I like what I do and most of the time I feel good about my contribution. I guess that post caught me just when the truck came back from repairs and the same old gang showed up to get it back in service.
    We should call ourselves the "old faithfulls."
    I am in much better spirits today

  20. #20
    Forum Member
    HeavyRescueTech's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    New Jersey
    Posts
    2,460

    Default

    I'm still a firm believer that if someone is contributing minimally from the organization, and causing the entire organization as a whole to diminish, then that individual needs to be removed from the organization (even if it's all volunteer).

    that being said, a leader can throw someone off a department. there is nothing in the rules against it. however, a good leader will try to figure out why the person isn't doing what they are supposed to be doing. if two guys on your department won't answer calls because of each other, tell them to either avoid each other (that means get on different engines) or quit. Also, if someone does quit, or gets dismissed, do an exit interview. ask them "is there anything we could have done to make your time here better" or "were you legitamately busy with other stuff, or was there something that made you not put forth the effort"?

    When I left my department up at college, I had a 5 minute chat with one of the admin officers. and he asked me, "over the last couple of months, you havn't been all that active. was there a reason for this?" and I told him, I was swamped with school, but I could have made the effort. the problem was I was sick of doing nothing, and not being able to advance to the level of interior firefighter. I had come into the department with prior experience, and eager to contribute, and it seemed like everywhere I turned, I kept hitting a brick wall. and when I saw a cadet (we gets on his knees for our career members) given the title of interior FF a month after he turned 18, while i've been fighting for 9 months to complete this thing, I said screw it. it wasn't worth me going out of my way to help them. He made a note of it, and we said good bye.

    ROOKIELZ, no offense, but you need to understand how most fire services work. you go through several levels, from starting with no knowledge, to becoming an exterior firefighter/probationary firefighter, to an interior firefighter who can operate inside. from interior FF, you can go on to engineer, line officer, fire inspector, etc. the goal of every firefighter should be to become certified as interior firefighters. they are the ones who are going into burning buildings and putting the fire out. yes, exterior and support operations are important, and if you are interior qualified, but are doing exterior work, there is no shame in that. but to say "I'm an exterior firefighter, and I've reached my goal on the fire departmen" just isn't a good mindset to have.

    as to your problem with the pagers, you need to understand that an interior firefighter can do the job of an exterior firefighter, but not the other way around. as an exterior only, your a gopher, an extra pair of hands, nice to have, often very useful, but (and I'm not trying to be mean) the call would probably turn out the same way if you were there or not. if you want a leg to stand on when you complain, become an interior firefighter, and then tell the chief "I've made 80 alarms, while these 3 guys only made 2. If I had a pager, I could answer more." Then you can say he either needs to purchase more pagers or get them back from inactive people. he might still say no, but at least you'll have a much stronger arguement if you are on an equal level with the other interior guys.
    If my basic HazMat training has taught me nothing else, it's that if you see a glowing green monkey running away from something, follow that monkey!

    FF/EMT/DBP

  21. #21
    Senior Member

    Join Date
    Apr 2004
    Posts
    136

    Default

    Originally posted by DrParasite
    but to say "I'm an exterior firefighter, and I've reached my goal on the fire departmen" just isn't a good mindset to have.


    Parasite, I don't agree with that statement. While it never was a goal of mine, if someone else only wants to go only as far as exterior - for whatever reason that is, be it concerns with health problems, or what, I don't think they should be ridiculed or told "that's not good enough." And they certainly shouldn't be told they're not a real firefighter.

    [i]the call would probably turn out the same way if you were there or not.
    That's incorrect. Anyone who has been on the interior knows how important the exterior people are. If you have a structure fire and only the interior people showed up, it would be very far from the same result!! Let's learn how to spell team. T-E-A-M.

  22. #22
    Senior Member

    Join Date
    Feb 2001
    Location
    Conshohocken, PA
    Posts
    391

    Default Morale

    There are lots of reasons why people drift away from the fire service.

    1. Family should always come first. To do otherwise is not only a moral inadequacy, it is also a violation of any matrimonial promises made to your wife/husband. If you have kids, I needn't type anything else. Kids change your life. If you don't have kids and you at some time do, you'll understand what I'm saying. If you don't have kids and you don't plan on it, then at least think of those who you still have, like your mother and father. You'll understand when they are gone and you no longer can call them on the phone to see how they are doing.

    2. Your job comes before the firehouse. If your career then no conflict arises here and you don't need to go further. If your volunteer, and you put the firehouse before your job, then your not taking care of number 1.

    3. I agree with many that this is a leadership problem.

    But of all the reasons, the fact that "I'm only a volunteer" doesn't float. The last time you voluntered is when you put in your application. After that, since you made a commitment in the first place knowing full well what the commitment was, then you need to meet that commitment.

    Which brings us to leadership. Only one previous post eluded to how you can stop or reduce this activity. Recruitment and retention of volunteers begins at the beginning. That sounds stupid doesn't it. But it is very basic. Let me illustrate by asking some questions.

    What do you do when a volunteer applies for the position? Do you ask them questions and investigate their background? Do you bring their significant other into the firehouse for the initial interview? Do you make it known that there will be things that need to be done besides fighting fires and responding to emergencies? Do you discuss with the canidate and his wife/husband that they will be expected to be at training once a week or on standby two nights a week? Do you tell them that while there will be fun times, there's gonna be some hard times too. Do you tell them that this volunteer JOB might involve injury and maybe even the supreme sacrifice? If we don't ask these questions up front with the canidate and his/her significant other and then expect them to provide these services later, are we really suprised when they stop showing up?

    We can do other things to relieve the pressure on them. Fund raising has always been a bane on the volunteer fire service. No other emergency service has to beg for money. The police don't stand on the corner during the Thanksgiving holiday and beg for money so that they can have a patrol vehicle or a bullet proof vest. Why should we? One of the jobs of the leadership should be to secure annual funding from those communities that you serve so that you shouldn't have to beg. Investigate the potential of different kind of memberships. Administrative members that are good with accounting and record keeping. Trade people who are good at building and keeping the facilities and equipment in running order. Business people to help raise funds and keep the books.

    Additionally, keep those who aren't in it for the right reasons, out of the fire service. All they are going to do is be a load on the rest who are there for the right reasons. That's up to the leadership to weed out the bad and keep the good ones.

    Finally, you need those in leadership positions to focus on the mission. And the mission ought to be on serving the public. If the leader doesn't understand the mission and communicate that through word, thoughts and deeds, then your lost, and you need a new leader.

    There's lots more that can be said but that should give ya some things to chew on for a while.

    Sorry for the rant. Hope things get better for ya.

  23. #23
    Forum Member
    HeavyRescueTech's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    New Jersey
    Posts
    2,460

    Default Re: Morale

    Originally posted by glowpop
    We can do other things to relieve the pressure on them. Fund raising has always been a bane on the volunteer fire service. No other emergency service has to beg for money.
    and what about EMS? I can think (just off the top of my head) of 4 local agencies that recieve NO tax money, and are funded strictly by donations. and I'm sure there are others. but I will agree, asking volunteers to do fundraising is a concept that has come and gone, and all emergency services should be funded by other means.

    but I really like how the rest of your post was, well said

    Originally posted by Fire2123That's incorrect. Anyone who has been on the interior knows how important the exterior people are. If you have a structure fire and only the interior people showed up, it would be very far from the same result!! Let's learn how to spell team. T-E-A-M.
    I'm not saying that the exterior work doesn't get done but rather it will get done by an interior guy. but you can't have a exterior guy doing interior work. it just doesn't work that way.

    I'm not saying he doesn't contribute, but, like a junior, he can be nice to have on a scene, and in fact be a valuable member of the crew, but if he wasn't there, the same result would probably happen, except the rest of the crew would have to work a little harder.

    think of it like EMS, where you have a crew chief and a driver. those two are essential members of the crew (thinking small terms here). without either, the ambulance doesn't go anywhere. you take an attendant/third person, who is neither an crew chief or driver, and they are like the exterior firefighter. Nice to have around, very useful, but if push came to shove, the 2 man crew would either find a way to handle it or call for help (like the FD would call for mutual aid). I'm not trying to downplay the role, but rather say everyone should be striving to be an "essential" part of the fireground, not just someone who is "nice to have around."
    If my basic HazMat training has taught me nothing else, it's that if you see a glowing green monkey running away from something, follow that monkey!

    FF/EMT/DBP

  24. #24
    Senior Member

    Join Date
    Feb 2001
    Location
    Conshohocken, PA
    Posts
    391

    Default Re: Re: Morale

    Originally posted by DrParasite
    and what about EMS? I can think (just off the top of my head) of 4 local agencies that recieve NO tax money, and are funded strictly by donations. and I'm sure there are others. but I will agree, asking volunteers to do fundraising is a concept that has come and gone, and all emergency services should be funded by other means.

    but I really like how the rest of your post was, well said
    First, thanks for your kind words.

    EMS in our area is very much like that provided in your area by "Rescue Squads". They tend to be volunteer here (heavy reliance on career personnel in some more urban environments) but they have a financial stream that isn't available to us fire fighters here in PA. Volunteer EMS agencies can bill either the injureds insurance or Medicare for the services and supplies used. Fire companies in PA are not allowed to bill for services rendered. While I'm not a laywer in PA or New Jersey, I believe that stream exists in Jersey as well. Please correct me if I'm wrong on that.

    Additionally the FIRE Act funds that have been up to this point restricted to Fire Agencies, are now open to Volunteer EMS "non-affilitated" services, where the local fire department doesn't operate an EMS service as well.

  25. #25
    Forum Member
    HeavyRescueTech's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    New Jersey
    Posts
    2,460

    Default

    In New Jersey, most suburban and rural EMS is handled by Rescue Squads as well, with the Urban ones being either hospital based or municipally run. most of the rescue squads are volunteer, with the busier towns (ie, over 4000 calls a year) having paid people on during the daytime.

    volunteer EMS agencies CANNOT bill under NJ law, or else they lose their volunteer status. it doesn't matter if you pay the crew or not, the decision is if you bill the patient or not (as I was told by the prez of my squad). also, those volunteer rescue squads are almost always donation driven, and recieve no tax money.
    If my basic HazMat training has taught me nothing else, it's that if you see a glowing green monkey running away from something, follow that monkey!

    FF/EMT/DBP

Thread Information

Users Browsing this Thread

There are currently 1 users browsing this thread. (0 members and 1 guests)

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts

Log in

Click here to log in or register