Thread: Politics

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    Default Politics

    IS it just me or are there way to many politics involved in your house? maybe for me its just because elections are next week and all, but damn, (im not a member till at least the buisness meeting next tuesday) and all i wanted to do was head down to help clean the trucks this afternoon and tonite for our openhouse tommorow GF's dad just called me (the lieutennant) and said it would be smarter not to go down now cause theres a lot of **** flying around down there right now. i mean all i want to do is help. well im done venting, lol. do any of you guys have a similar situation?

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    Default Re: Politics

    Originally posted by Maverick9110E
    IS it just me or are there way to many politics involved in your house? maybe for me its just because elections are next week and all, but damn, (im not a member till at least the buisness meeting next tuesday) and all i wanted to do was head down to help clean the trucks this afternoon and tonite for our openhouse tommorow GF's dad just called me (the lieutennant) and said it would be smarter not to go down now cause theres a lot of **** flying around down there right now. i mean all i want to do is help. well im done venting, lol. do any of you guys have a similar situation?
    We allow no politicing in our elections. If it happens your name is removed from the ballot.
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    LOL....dont you people have anything else to do besides b*tch about our b*tching?

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    Politics suck and have no business in the fire service in my personal opinion. They sure as hell aint gonna do you any good at a fire, mva or any other call.

    I stay as far away from them as I can get. Im here to do my job and thats it.

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    Thumbs down

    I like appointments vs elections ...........those are just a bad idea in my book.
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    The first advice I ever received when I joined the department 35 years ago was from a retired Chief:

    THERE TWO THINGS YOU DON'T DISCUSS IN THE FIREHOUSE ... POLITICS AND RELIGION. Both will eventually lead to an argument.



    -bob-

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    im not talking politics like governer and state and such. im talking about the elections of asst. chief, lieutennant, engineer etc.. boy i tell ya it gets nasty sometimes. hopefully it will all slow down after the elections.

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    Oh, you mean firehouse politics

    Yeah ... they suck too.


    -bob-

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    Originally posted by Weruj1
    I like appointments vs elections ...........those are just a bad idea in my book.
    oh yeah, so instead of a member be liked by the entire department, all they need is to be liked by the appointing person/committee (whether that be the chief, commisioners, etc). that's just better

    you will always find internal politics in emergency services. paid or volunteer. It can be as simple as the chief saying "If you do this for me, and chair this committee, then I think there is a Lt position available for you." or the whole "he's been a career FF for 15 years, but just joined our volly department 2 years ago, I'm going to elect a 7 year vet as an officer since he has more time in OUR department."

    I am 100% in favor of elections for all officers. I'd also be interested in the command system where the Cheif and president are elected anually, and they then appoint the VP, Sec/Tres, AC, Capt, Lt, etc, but I've never seen this done in person, so I can't say it's better.

    What elections do is ensure that the person elected has the support of the majority of the department. yes, I think there should be minimum requirements for officer positions, but they should still be elected. However, I don't think campaigning should be allowed (and it's not on my squad or department), nor should politics interfere with how the firehouse operates.

    regardless of who gets elected, and who is running, the doors should still go up, and the apparatus should still be going out the door for alarms.
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    we opperate on the " good ol boy" system

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    We are on the good ol boys sytem too..Which is probably the worst because all the old time officers keep voting in the other old timers and none of the more youthfull members can get anywheres....It sucks that things work this way....I hope the County here will start puttin an age limit on members or somethin..Or at least those who will be active
    If someone with multiple personalities threatens to kill himself, is it considered a hostage situation?

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    Originally posted by ndvfdff33
    We are on the good ol boys sytem too..Which is probably the worst because all the old time officers keep voting in the other old timers and none of the more youthfull members can get anywheres....It sucks that things work this way....I hope the County here will start puttin an age limit on members or somethin..Or at least those who will be active
    EXACTLY!! Our Chief is young but a "good ol boy" and I would swear on a stack of bibles that it affects his attitudes regarding other members.

    What about a blind, last minute vote where you all show up one day and the Chief says" we're voting on these ______________ positions tonight. Vote in the best FF for the job." And the voting starts 10 minutes later. No time for "campaigning" or any other nonsense but no time to review qualifications either.

    I can't think of any way where there isn't going to be some kind of glitch or nonsense.

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    Originally posted by DrParasite
    oh yeah, so instead of a member be liked by the entire department, all they need is to be liked by the appointing person/committee (whether that be the chief, commisioners, etc). that's just better

    you will always find internal politics in emergency services. paid or volunteer. It can be as simple as the chief saying "If you do this for me, and chair this committee, then I think there is a Lt position available for you." or the whole "he's been a career FF for 15 years, but just joined our volly department 2 years ago, I'm going to elect a 7 year vet as an officer since he has more time in OUR department."

    I am 100% in favor of elections for all officers. I'd also be interested in the command system where the Cheif and president are elected anually, and they then appoint the VP, Sec/Tres, AC, Capt, Lt, etc, but I've never seen this done in person, so I can't say it's better.

    What elections do is ensure that the person elected has the support of the majority of the department. yes, I think there should be minimum requirements for officer positions, but they should still be elected. However, I don't think campaigning should be allowed (and it's not on my squad or department), nor should politics interfere with how the firehouse operates.

    regardless of who gets elected, and who is running, the doors should still go up, and the apparatus should still be going out the door for alarms.
    I am opposed to elections, also. The way our officers are appointed works well for us.

    We have no "commissioners". We have 1 Fire Chief, and then each of the 2 stations have:
    1 District Chief
    1 Asst. District Chief
    2 Captains
    2 Lieutenants

    We also have 1 EMS chief for the city that holds the same rank as a District Chief.

    The City Chief is appointed by City Council

    He appoints the District Chiefs and EMS Chief

    All other officers use the following process:

    When a position becomes available, it is posted for 14 days. All interested must submit a letter of interest and a resume to the Dist Chief. A interview committee is formed using 1 FF, 1 Officer from the Station with the opening and 1 FF or Officer from the other station. There are certain requirements to be able to be promoted and to maintain that position. The interview committee ranks the candidates based on interviews. The District Chief then interviews and makes a recommendation to the City Chief based on the results of the interview committee, training, run attendance, etc. the City Chief can interview if he desires and makes a recommendation to the City Administrator......... No good ole boy system. FFs and Officers are involved in the process.

    And Dan, just because someone is "liked" by all the other members, doesn't mean they have what it takes to be an officer. Sometimes those that aren't liked may do a better job because they're there to do a job, not to make friends and be liked by everybody.

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    On volunteer fire departments, whether you elect your officers or appoint them, someone will say that it is a popularity contest, a good ole boy system, a system that doesn't work or it is a system that is corrupt.
    Fact is; it all goes right back to your board of trustees. If you elect your officers, the trustees are letting you, but ultimately, if they don't like the elected officer, they don't have to approve it.
    If the trustees appoints the officer, there's not a whole lot you can do if you don't like it because the trustees have a statutory obligation to keep a roster of firefighters.
    Trustees might allow their department to have a set of by-laws, but they NEVER abdicate any of the statutory authority, because that would violate the law.
    Now; with all of that said, in most cases, trustees are appointed by a county board or a governing body having jurisdiction, but the law also allows for the election of trustees.
    My point is this; if you don't like the way the system works or doesn't work, you can change it.
    Often times, the reason a volunteer fire department isn't moving forward is because they have trustees that are completely out of touch or are apathetic to suggestions coming from the fire department to become a better department. Trustees want to believe that they have all of the answers or at least all of the power. And they are quick to remind you of that.
    A department's best chance to change is to start at the trustee level and work down.
    I should know. I'm a trustee. I was a chief before that. I pushed to get the trustees elected. I was elected. I like that system.
    As far as politics goes; it is in every facet of your life whether you like it or not. Your job, your home, your church and your fire department. People don't call it "politics", but it's politics nonetheless.
    Good luck to those struggling to find a system that works.
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    I won our election the other night, I was promoted to captain. All it took was a couple cases of Beer and a few Pizzas for the boy's.

    Volunteer elections are a total joke, OK 20-30 years ago, I look at it that the Fire Chief is ultimatly responsible for the actions of his subordinates both good and bad, if that elected officer who was elected the body or association of firefighters screws up to the point that legal action takes place, its the Chief who will have to answer for that officers actions...not the association. The Chief runs the department...not the association of FF's. I've seen to many good officers have to start *** kissin' just prior to election to get the votes, god for bid he would have to enforse some discipline to do his job...if he did, he was done. Volly in fighting and clicks are killing the volunteer fire service more than anything, we are our own worst enemy. Another joke is that the chief is elected every year too....Oh Boy, now thats maintaining continuity by an organization, what the hell kind of command system is that??? Changing every year.

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    my volly dept has the same problem. the only solution that i can see is to have elections but only make those who are qualified eligible to run in the election. make the members have certian training in order to be allowed to run for a specific rank. also make a certian amount of participation required to run for any rank at all. my dept has been plauged by this buddy system that has been mentioned earlier and it has hurt our community's fire protection in general simply because someone's buddy is running things and the people who are qualified didin't fall under the buddy system's "qualifications". my fire dept has so much potential to be the best in our area, but we are not, and i think it is all because politics has gotten in the way. this saddens me because it is the citizens that suffer. I guess i should have left my feelings at home.........

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    Originally posted by RowdyBrassPiper
    I won our election the other night, I was promoted to captain. All it took was a couple cases of Beer and a few Pizzas for the boy's.

    Well, I just won the election for 1st LT, but I didnt rely on bribes and politics. I simply showed the members of the department that I was dedicated, trained, and willing to learn from others. I made it my business to be there for all drills special events.

    Politics will always be a part of this business, as said before, it doesnt matter whether its paid or volly. What you have to remember is that there are some people that will contribute to it, and some that will abstain, and watch from the sidelines.

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    "Good Ole Boy" systems exist because you let them!
    It will only change if you want it to and are willing to work to change it. Sounds simple, but that is exactly what has to happen.
    I won our election the other night, I was promoted to captain. All it took was a couple cases of Beer and a few Pizzas for the boy's.
    Rowdy: Is that the minimum requirement or did you throw in a little sumpin' special?
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    Originally posted by DrParasite

    I am 100% in favor of elections for all officers. I'd also be interested in the command system where the Cheif and president are elected anually, and they then appoint the VP, Sec/Tres, AC, Capt, Lt, etc, but I've never seen this done in person, so I can't say it's better.
    We do something very similar to this at my VFD. We elect our Chief, President, Treasurer, and Secretary only. The line officers and VP are appointed.

    Incidentally, I was elected Chief this year, after having been appointed AC for the past three years. I really like having the ability to appoint my Assistant Chief ... after weighing personnel who are qualified & certified, I was able to pick someone who shares the same outlook of the department as I have (but isn't a kiss-*****), will help to maintain good morale in the department, and serve as an excellent fireground commander in my absense.

    For about three years (before I got my paid gig), I actually volunteered at two different departments - my small, rural VFD, and a large, busy VFD on the other side of the city. The big VFD elected all of it's officers - Chief, 1st Assistant Chief, 2nd Assistant Chief, 2 Captains, 2 Leiutenants, and 2 Sergeants, along with the admin side of things. Not only did this make for a horribly long business meeting it also made for "tensions" amongst the line officers.

    Many times, the officers did not have the same operating principles of the chiefs or the other officers, and it could lead to disarray within the department. It seemed to be a perpetual cycle.

    I find it easier to get things accomplished when my assistant chief and I can sit down at the table, look at the merits of the individual members, and what they'll be able to accomplish as officers. Butt-kissing means nothing to us, and if feelings get hurt, that's the way it has to be sometimes.

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    Here is how it works here ............(and I really really really agree with Rowdy, I caught the sarcasm) Chief appointed by City Coucil, and ratifed by Council vote. Asst Chief appointed by the fire chief, and ratified by Council. Officers are chosen by qualifications, attendance, both runs and drills and is done through an oral interview process then recommended. There is no butt smooching or other distractions, Parasite sometimes you disapoint me.
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    Originally posted by Weruj1
    Here is how it works here ............(and I really really really agree with Rowdy, I caught the sarcasm) Chief appointed by City Coucil, and ratifed by Council vote. Asst Chief appointed by the fire chief, and ratified by Council. Officers are chosen by qualifications, attendance, both runs and drills and is done through an oral interview process then recommended. There is no butt smooching or other distractions, Parasite sometimes you disapoint me.
    your kidding me right? so your chief is is politically connected, ane selected by a people who don't know what goes on day to day, and only know what they read about in the chief's report. he might look good on paper, but when it comes to how he operates on a fire scene, the people he is chosing have no clue what he does. Then the Asst. Chief, who is buddy-buddy with the Chief, gets appointed, and then again gets ratified by the coucil (not like they would ever have a reason not to ratify him). Then the officers are recommended by the chief, so as long as the guys kiss the chief's ***, and he likes them and they look good on paper, the city will appoint them. and if you think that doesn't happen, then you REALLY need to take off those rose colored glasses.

    elections by membership do a few things.
    1) if an officer/chief does a horrible job, then next year he doesn't get the job again. membership votes in someone else
    2) it means the cheif has the support of the majority of membership. when was the last time you read in the paper that a big city dept voted no confidence in their cheif? but what can they do about it, he's appointed.
    3) membership is held accountable. in your examples, the city council can be blamed for a bad chief. in departmental elections, membership selected the chief, they need to deal with the consequences.
    The Chief runs the department...not the association of FF's. I've seen to many good officers have to start *** kissin' just prior to election to get the votes, god for bid he would have to enforse some discipline to do his job...if he did, he was done. Volly in fighting and clicks are killing the volunteer fire service more than anything, we are our own worst enemy.
    and who gives the chief his power? the town council? no. the town's population? no. it's the people under them. the firefighters. they all chose to follow him. they can just as simply decide to ignore him, and do what they want. the power is in their hands. and again, if you think appointed chiefs and officers don't kiss ***, well, you need to get your eyes checked. all they are doing is kissing the *** of a smaller group of people.
    Another joke is that the chief is elected every year too....Oh Boy, now thats maintaining continuity by an organization, what the hell kind of command system is that??? Changing every year.
    really? have you ever worked under a bad chief? what about a chief who didn't do much, and let every shift make their own decision as to how they would operate? and what about a cheif of a combination department tha only responds 9-5? and doens't go county meetings unless he's being paid to be there, even though it's in his contract that he will? I have, and he was appointed, and paid. so he's there until he retires.

    I'm all for organizational continuity, but the cheif needs to be held accountable for how he runs the department, and who better that for it to be the people he is in charge of, who have the firefighting experience, and who know what is right and what is wrong.
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    Dan,
    Hate to burst your bubble but that is how it works or a variation there of in most fire departments. It appears we will disagree on this topic......
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    so you really don't have any first hand experience in a system like this, do you? that's like a paid guy saying all volunteers are untrained morons who spend more time getting drunk then they do serving the public. and its ignorance speaking, and you are not one who I would have thought that would speak out of ignorance.

    if you tried it for a few year, i think you would be surprised by what the results were. or you would say that you don't want to be a member of an organization that, and you could join another one. either way, at least you actually know what goes on, instead of just guessing.
    Last edited by DrParasite; 12-21-2004 at 01:29 AM.
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    Show me a fire department that doesn't have people who like to play politics -- what a joke!

    I've been a member of both types, and I was involved in moving our group to where we are now. I would not want to go back. We had the popularity contest system for many years. We've since moved on to a better system, essentially the same as Weruju1's.

    We completely removed our "association" from the operation of our municipal department. Our chief is appointed by the town manager and confirmed by the council. The chief then appoints deputies. Line officers are selected through a promotion-type process involving application, letters of recommendation, interview, training, education, etc.

    Our "association" is a different group (mostly the same people as the department, but not completely) and its job is to support the operation of the department and its people. We vote in a president, VP, secretary, and treasurer annually. Their rank here is for association duties only: it is not part of the department's chain of command.

    The arguments for popular election of officers are weak. You can accomplish the same thing by reviewing performance on an annual basis, having job descriptions, and holding people accountable. Change can be good. But when you introduce the potential to completely change leadership on a yearly basis, that's not healthy.
    I'm sorry, but I have seen the problems it creates with continuity from year-to-year first hand.

    We, as individuals, might often disagree about the competence of certain officers... but at least with a process like my department's, there is accountability. When you elect your officers, you could be sticking your chief with people whom he knows are not right for the job. How can you then hold him accountable for their actions? What if the chief knows the person elected is not capable of performing his/her duties, but was elected regardless? That happened WAY more often than now, where a committee evaluates a person and presents recommendations to the chief. He then has to live with his decision, and knows that he is responsible for the persons successes and failures.

    Whether you like it or not, the position of fire chief in most towns and cities is a political one. It's a department head. I realize there are many "private" departments that exist, and I don't understand how they operate. Regardless, the chief still needs to perform many of the same political duties.

    Is anyone aware of a career department that elects its officers and/or chief? Why should it be any different in p/c or volunteer? Isn't the fire service paramilitary? Or is that only when it's convenient?

    Originally posted by BoxAlarm187

    Many times, the officers did not have the same operating principles of the chiefs or the other officers, and it could lead to disarray within the department. It seemed to be a perpetual cycle.

    I find it easier to get things accomplished when my assistant chief and I can sit down at the table, look at the merits of the individual members, and what they'll be able to accomplish as officers. Butt-kissing means nothing to us, and if feelings get hurt, that's the way it has to be sometimes.
    YUP.
    Last edited by Resq14; 12-21-2004 at 02:22 AM.
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    It's always interesting to see what others do and why they do it. We do elect our officers. Been that way for 117 years and don't see a need to change it. We have strictly followed requirements/standards for our officers. And in all honesty, we really follow more of a promotional approach than true election. Each position is elected, but 99.95% of the time, we are just moving the person up 1 step in the line. Very, very rarely, has someone not been moved up and replaced instead. I know one time it did happen, a few years ago. We had a guy who was a fairly decent Lt. move up to Captain. At the same time, he got involved in politics and became a Council member. His "participation" in the FD went to very little, his drilling/training for the company went to very little, his attitude towards the dept. went to sour. But, as a Councilman, he was loved and respected by Mayor and Council. They felt he should have been made Chief and kept in that position for the next few years.

    I am certainly glad we don't allow politicians to select the FD leaders.

    And I know, we can "what if" these things to death and end up right back where we started. Like someone said above, if your system works for you, good, if not, try something else.
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    Very well said Resq14, I totally agree with most of what you stated.

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