1. #1
    Forum Member
    stm4710's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    Posts
    1,713

    Lightbulb Top cop named interim fire chief amidst questions about qualifications

    Top cop named interim fire chief amidst questions about qualifications
    By Andrew Lightman / News Staff Writer
    Thursday, December 30, 2004

    MENDON -- Over protests about his qualifications, selectmen named Police Chief Ernest Horn the town's temporary acting fire chief.

    The move came after it was announced that Fire Chief Charlie Johnson would not be returning from medical leave.

    After a 30-minute emergency meeting behind closed doors with Horn and the selectmen, Town Counsel Jack Collins told the public of Johnson's decision to leave the department.

    "At this point in time, it would appear the chief will not be coming back to work," said Town Counsel Jack Collins. "He has a medical condition with his heart that is apparently job related."

    Until last night, with Johnson away from work, Lt. Rich Corcoran had assumed the role of acting fire chief. But with a unanimous vote, selectmen gave Horn control of the Police and Fire departments.

    "(Chief Horn) is an excellent manager," said selectmen Chairman Dennis Shaheen. "And this is what we need right now, someone to go into that department, stabilize things and keep everything running."

    "I would like to see Ernie (Horn) work with the Fire Department, listen to them and teach them," said Selectman Sharon Cutler.

    Reached after the meeting, Corcoran declined to comment.

    But several residents, concerned Horn has no firefighting experience, questioned the selectmen's choice.

    "I don't know if he's ever been to the academy, walked into a burning building, carried a hose," said Robert Caron, who served on the search committee that ultimately recommended the town hire Johnson four years ago.

    Selectmen, however, stood by their choice. They said Horn has appropriate managerial experience to run the department.

    At the meeting, Horn said he plans to run the office but delegate the firefighting leadership to his qualified lieutenants.

    "Certainly, I'm not a firefighter and I don't pretend to be one," Horn said. "We have two qualified lieutenants who lead the fire scenes now."

    That statement, however, raised only more questions from residents as to why selectmen would pick Horn over the firefighters already managing the department.

    Given that Horn has no firefighting experience, Tanya Caron asked selectmen why they would hire a man who could only delegate authority at a fire scene.

    And Conrad Beliveau said he felt the choice might destroy morale within the department.

    "At this point in time, it's sending an awful message to the Fire Department that no one there is able to step in and be fire chief," said Conrad Beliveau.

    But selectmen stood by their decision.

    "We feel that this man, with the right men under him, has the ability to manage this department," Shaheen answered. "We feel this man will serve the town best as interim fire chief."

    According to Collins, Johnson will officially remain the chief until his disability kicks in sometime during the next three to six months.

    "I think the chief is making a decision that is sound for himself and his family," Collins said.




    ( Andrew Lightman can be reached at 508-634-7552 or andrew.lightman@cnc.com. )



    Masscops.com
    I dont suffer from insanity, I enjoy every minute of it.

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

    Default

    http://www.milforddailynews.com/loca...rticleid=62430

    I guess we can all say that it's a good thing Mendon doesn't elect their chief from within membership, because you might get someone who is unqualified, lacks the neccessary fire credentials, and lacks the neccesary fire experience to be a good fire cheif.
    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

  3. #3
    Forum Member
    Bones42's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2001
    Location
    Pt. Beach, NJ
    Posts
    10,687

    Default

    "Certainly, I'm not a firefighter and I don't pretend to be one," Horn said. "We have two qualified lieutenants who lead the fire scenes now."
    This says a lot to me. Sounds like he is going to be an Administrative Chief and not Operational. Why take the Lt's that are good at operations out of that and make them administrative? By leaving them there, it uses their strengths as opposed to sitting them behind a desk.
    "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?

  4. #4
    MembersZone Subscriber
    dmleblanc's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2001
    Location
    Not the end of the earth but I can see it from here...
    Posts
    2,318

    Default

    I suppose it could work if set up right. If he is taking care of administrative issues and not trying to meddle around on scenes (which seems to be the case), and he has good, effective subordinates handling the operational duties (which also appears to be the case). I agree with Bones, just because those lieutenants are good on the fireground doesn't mean they'd necessarily make good administrators. Conversely, I'm sure the police chief has a great deal of administrative experience.

    In our parish (county), a few years back a new sheriff was elected. No law enforcement experience whatsoever...he was a self-employed CPA. BUT, he runs that office like an efficient BUSINESS. He knows how to manage money and how to get grants. That department is better staffed and better equipped than it has been for many a year. He has an excellent captain under him who handles the actual operational end of things. He has been reelected since then, so obviously most people are pleased with the job he is doing. All this without the first qualification in law enforcement.

    My boss where I work is the head of the plant's Emergency Services & Security department. Probably the best manager this department has ever had, well liked and respected both within the department and outside. If I brought him out to the fire station (where he seldom goes) I don't know if he could find the pump on the fire truck in three tries (well, maybe not that bad, but you get the idea). My point is, he doesn't know that much about the "nuts and bolts" of what we do...the key thing is, he really doesn't need to. He's an administrator, not a firefighter. But he's got more goodies (new trucks, equipment, trainnig) for this department than any previous manager has either had the balls or the charisma to get. He respects us and expects us to handle the hands-on stuff.

    This situation, I think, can work if all parties have the proper attitude. Besides, isn't this just an interim position? Surely they're going to search for a permanent replacement?
    Chief Dwayne LeBlanc
    Paincourtville Volunteer Fire Department
    Paincourtville, LA

    "I have a dream. It's not a big dream, it's just a little dream. My dream — and I hope you don't find this too crazy — is that I would like the people of this community to feel that if, God forbid, there were a fire, calling the fire department would actually be a wise thing to do. You can't have people, if their houses are burning down, saying, 'Whatever you do, don't call the fire department!' That would be bad."
    — C.D. Bales, "Roxanne"

  5. #5
    55 Years & Still Rolling
    hwoods's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2002
    Location
    Glenn Dale Md, Heart of the P.G. County Fire Belt....
    Posts
    10,739

    Question HuH??......................

    The Fire Chief steps down, and the next in line are two Lieutenants?? NO question about anyone's credentials, I'm just trying to figure out why there (apparently) is no one between a Lt. and the Chief. No Deputy Chief, Assistant Chief, Captain, Nothing? What the Heck?
    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

  6. #6
    Sr. Information Officer
    NJFFSA16's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2001
    Location
    25 NW of the GW
    Posts
    8,434

    Post

    "Certainly, I'm not a firefighter and I don't pretend to be one," Horn said.
    "I would like to see Ernie (Horn) work with the Fire Department, listen to them and teach them," said Selectman Sharon Cutler.
    Sharon Cutler would like to see him teach them? What could he possibly teach them? He readily admits that he isn't a firefighter.

    Illogical, highly illogical.
    Proudly serving as the IACOJ Minister of Information & Propoganda!
    Be Safe! Lookouts-Awareness-Communications-Escape Routes-Safety Zones

    *Gathering Crust Since 1968*
    On the web at www.section2wildfire.com

  7. #7
    Forum Member
    HeavyRescueTech's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    New Jersey
    Posts
    2,460

    Default Re: HuH??......................

    Originally posted by hwoods
    The Fire Chief steps down, and the next in line are two Lieutenants?? NO question about anyone's credentials, I'm just trying to figure out why there (apparently) is no one between a Lt. and the Chief. No Deputy Chief, Assistant Chief, Captain, Nothing? What the Heck?
    if i were to take a guess (and this is only a guess), I would imagine it's a combination department, with a paid chief and 2 paid Lts, with the rest of the officers made up with volunteers.
    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

  8. #8
    Senior Member
    Dalmatian90's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2000
    Posts
    3,120

    Default

    Mendon has a population of about 4,000. Couldn't find any specifics on the FD...but neighboring Upton with a population of 6,000 has a paid day crew + 28 on-call firefighters, I'd imagine Mendon would fit a similiar if not even smaller profile from what I know occassionally driving through the area.

    If this is a short-time move to provide administrative leadership for the six-months until budgets are done and they can officially hire an acting fire chief, that's one thing. I don't think you want them under the PD in perputity -- especially when a department that small probably counts on the paid Fire Chief to be part of the active command/operations staff during daytime incidents.
    IACOJ Canine Officer
    20/50

  9. #9
    Forum Member
    Bones42's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2001
    Location
    Pt. Beach, NJ
    Posts
    10,687

    Default

    What could he possibly teach them
    Administrative skills, organization, report writing, budgeting, grant writing, the non-fire side of running a firehouse? Possibly lots of things.

    Does a department that small need so many line officers? Between the 2 stations that make up my department, we average between 20-30 guys on most calls. 10 of them are officers. If you don't have that many guys, why have so many officers. Our population is about 8k, all volunteer.
    "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?

  10. #10
    dazed and confused
    Resq14's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2000
    Location
    New England
    Posts
    1,993

    Default

    Bones... same thing here.

    We'll roll on something like a car fire, and I'll gaze around the truck and see 5 line officers, and wonder about the chiefs/indians thing.

    Similar demographics here.
    God Bless America!Remember all have given some, but some have given all.
    Google Is Your Friend™Helpful forum tip - a "must see" if you're new here
    Click this to search FH Forums!

  11. #11
    Forum Member
    firenresq77's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2000
    Location
    Northwest Ohio
    Posts
    5,213

    Default

    I'm riding the fence on this one. It could be good, as he's an experienced manager, but it could be bad since he has no knowledge of the business.

    As long as he entrusts his Lt's and FFs to tell him what is needed and doesn't question their decisions or try to interfere with operations at scenes, it may be OK......

    Harve, I was wondering the same thing about only 2 Lts and a Chief....
    The comments made by me are my opinions only. They DO NOT reflect the opinions of my employer(s). If you have an issue with something I may say, take it up with me, either by posting in the forums, emailing me through my profile, or PMing me through my profile.
    We are all adults so there is no need to act like a child........
    IACOJ

  12. #12
    Forum Member
    Weruj1's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 1999
    Location
    NW Ohio
    Posts
    7,857

    Arrow

    I suspect the Dr is right about the Lt's .............and I agree with '77 that this COULD be a good thing maybe.........
    IACOJ both divisions and PROUD OF IT !
    Pardon me sir.. .....but I believe we are all over here !
    ATTENTION ALL SHOPPERS: Will the dead horse please report to the forums.(thanks Motown)
    RAY WAS HERE 08/28/05
    LETHA' FOREVA' ! 010607
    I'm sorry, I haven't been paying much attention for the last 3 hours.....what were we discussing?
    "but I guarentee you I will FF your arse off" from>
    http://www.firehouse.com/forums/show...60#post1137060post 115

  13. #13
    MembersZone Subscriber

    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    Posts
    216

    Default

    Bones you made the point I was going to. He could teach alot about the Admin side of things. We don't know what level of the two Lt's are at all. So it is a good chance that they might not be able to run the department the way the town wants. The Chief made it clear he was going to let them run the job. He also made the comment that the Lt's run the scenes now anyways. So it is possibel the chief that is leaving didn't go out much either. Not saying he as too, but in a small town he could.

    I will go out on a limb and say That this will end up happening alot in small towns and cities. Were you have good line officers just need a paper man. I can see how it could help money wise, just pay him a little more then he is. No worry over two salaries.
    Thanks
    DM
    ___________
    "I am telling the truth, I was driving through the warehouse and the wall jumped in front of my fork lift. I honked the horn and it never listened."

  14. #14
    Forum Member
    firenresq77's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2000
    Location
    Northwest Ohio
    Posts
    5,213

    Default

    After thinking about, you have the other side of the coin, also........

    The Chief left after he couldn't return from medical leave....... What was it for? Could it be possible that he left because he thought he couldn't do the job the way that he had been doing it, as in an active chief (not just administrative)? Maybe he could still do it in an administrative manor, like the police chief is going to do it, if he knew that the town would let him?

    Just a question out of pure curiosity, as I have no knowledge of this situation, other than what is in the article......
    The comments made by me are my opinions only. They DO NOT reflect the opinions of my employer(s). If you have an issue with something I may say, take it up with me, either by posting in the forums, emailing me through my profile, or PMing me through my profile.
    We are all adults so there is no need to act like a child........
    IACOJ

  15. #15
    Forum Member
    DeputyChiefGonzo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2000
    Location
    Somewhere between genius and insanity!
    Posts
    13,584

    Default

    I know Chief Charlie Johnson... he is more than capable of doing the job. his reason is medical and 100% legitimate.
    ‎"The education of a firefighter and the continued education of a firefighter is what makes "real" firefighters. Continuous skill development is the core of progressive firefighting. We learn by doing and doing it again and again, both on the training ground and the fireground."
    Lt. Ray McCormack, FDNY

  16. #16
    Forum Member
    firenresq77's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2000
    Location
    Northwest Ohio
    Posts
    5,213

    Default

    Originally posted by CaptainGonzo
    I know Chief Charlie Johnson... he is more than capable of doing the job. his reason is medical and 100% legitimate.
    I wasn't sure, so I figured I would ask. Wasn't sure if this could have been one of those instances where they may not have told him he could stay in the position as administrative only......... Thanks Gonzo......
    The comments made by me are my opinions only. They DO NOT reflect the opinions of my employer(s). If you have an issue with something I may say, take it up with me, either by posting in the forums, emailing me through my profile, or PMing me through my profile.
    We are all adults so there is no need to act like a child........
    IACOJ

  17. #17
    Forum Member

    Join Date
    Apr 2004
    Location
    Bossier Parrish, Louisiana
    Posts
    10,639

    Default

    Personnaly I don't see this as a bad thing, depending on the situation. Obviously, the police chief has experience in dealing with the muncipal government and making decisions within thier system regarding budgets, finances, procurement and employee matters. The Lts may never have had a lot of exposure to this part of the operation and may quite honestly, may not have the administrative skills and training to handle the chief's posistion RIGHT NOW. It is quite possible that they will be trained in these aspects of the job and one of them will assume the posistion down the road. Gone are the days that " a damn good fireman" can assume the chief's job in a busy volunteer or small combo department and be successful in running the organization without a firm grasp of the administrative duties needed. One example was a department close to me in northern Vermont, where a business executive with less than 2 years of firefighting experience was elected chief. He allowed his other officers to handle all scenes and delegated firefighting policy decision-making to them as he concentrated on adminisrative and financial matters. Within 5 years, he had streamlined the operation and increased finances to the point where they had replaced most of thier fleet and station, and improved thier ISO rating 2 full grades.

  18. #18
    MembersZone Subscriber

    Join Date
    Sep 2001
    Location
    No. Providence R.I. : Land of the "How ya doins"
    Posts
    990

    Default

    Most towns in Mass. have some sort of combination system with either 1 or 2 guys around the clock supplimented by POC's or day manning. And it isn't uncommon for a Lt. or Capt. to be shift commander in Mass. either with no rank between them and a deputy or Chief of Dept. Hope Mendon gets on the stick and hires someone qualified to be both an administrator and operations manager.
    "I have no ambition in this world but one, and that is to be a fireman. The position may, in the eyes of some, appear to be a lowly one; but we know the work which a fireman has to do believe that his is a noble calling."

    Edward F. Croker
    Chief 1899-1911
    Fire Dept. City of New York

    HOOK N' CAN of the I.A.C.O.J.

  19. #19
    Forum Member
    DaSharkie's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2000
    Posts
    4,713

    Default

    I know Charlie as well, had him as a professor for a few courses when I got my Bachelor's degree back in Mass. Nice guy, pretty darned knowledgeable, and seemed to pretty progressive - especially considering how things are in Mass. sometimes. Sorry to see him have to leave at such a young age, especially since he has a couple of young children at home too.

    Mendon is a very small town and if I recall correctly, the department has a few guys in the Captain / Deputy position but they are call personnel and just plain may not be able to step into the position, not tom mention unless you are a pretty good manager with a good amount of managerial experience you can't just step up into a chief's slot.

    There are a few lieutenants on the day staff because they oversee certain operations like EMS and training so they ought to have a ranking to reflect that position and responsibility.

    As for a police chief running it? There can't be that many chief positions that are not about 98% administrative. That is what this chief is going to do, run it like a manager until the town can get up to speed to select their next fire chief. It took them a while to select Chief Johnson with an assessment center and interviews and all. If I recall he was pretty active operationally due to the short staffing he has in the daytime.
    "Too many people spend money they haven't earned, to buy things they don't want, to impress people they don't like." Will Rogers

    The borrower is slave to the lender. Proverbs 22:7 - Debt free since 10/5/2009.

    "No man's life, liberty, or property are safe while the legislature is in session." - New York Judge Gideon Tucker

    "As Americans we must always remember that we all have a common enemy, an enemy that is dangerous, powerful and relentless. I refer, of course, to the federal government." - Dave Barry

    www.daveramsey.com www.clarkhoward.com www.heritage.org

  20. #20
    Forum Member
    stm4710's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    Posts
    1,713

    Default

    Fire officials suggest new chief first
    By Andrew Lightman / News Staff Writer
    Tuesday, January 11, 2005

    MENDON -- Before selectmen vote on the future of the fire department, past and present fire officials are urging them to hire another full-time fire chief.

    Two weeks ago selectmen announced Fire Chief Charlie Johnson resigned his post due to a job-related medical condition.

    Police Chief Ernest Horn, serving as the town's acting fire chief, will give a report to selectmen at 7 tomorrow night to recommend how the town should manage the fire department.

    Horn said he is evaluating the department and may recommend the town keep a full-time fire chief or cut the position to part time. Horn said he is also looking at an option that would combine the management of the police and fire departments under the control of a public safety director, a job he would likely get if selectmen approve.

    Selectman Sharon Cutler said she isn't leaning toward any particular option yet and hopes to study the issue more before she is asked to vote. "We have plenty of time to do our analysis," Cutler said. "We want to evaluate all the options that we have."

    But heading into the meeting, Jack DeLuca, who was Mendon's full-time fire chief from 1988 until he retired in 1994, feels selectmen should keep a full-time chief.

    "I hope they continue on with the full-time chief position," said DeLuca, who plans to attend tomorrow's meeting. "It's absolutely important to have someone on scene that can call the shots and knows what's going on."

    While he said a public safety director would lack important fire-related knowledge, DeLuca said some of the present Mendon firefighters who worked for him would make capable fire chiefs.

    "They're a good bunch of people. They've done a very good job from what I've heard," he said. "I'm extremely proud of them."

    Admittedly lacking intimate knowledge of Mendon's situation, David LaFond, president of the Fire Chiefs' Association of Massachusetts and Holyoke's fire chief, also strongly recommended against the public safety director option.

    "Generally speaking I don't think it's the right decision. The town owes it to the fire department, especially in this day and age of added responsibility," LaFond said. "There's a slew of things that a modern fire chief needs these days. It's a lot more than looking at a budget."

    While some may see the police and fire chief job as similar, LaFond said they have equally important but very different jobs. On one hand, a police chief's primary role is law enforcement, but a fire chief must enforce state fire codes.

    "You need the key understanding of the laws," LaFond said. "And you don't know this stuff unless you come up through the ranks." Being an insider and knowing the strengths of each firefighter is also immeasurable at a fire scene, LaFond said.

    In a fire scene, leadership always falls to the most senior member of the department. If the chief cannot coordinate the efforts of his firefighters, LaFond said a lieutenant has to stop dragging a hose or ventilating a room to direct the force.

    "How can he make day-to-day decisions of what the fire department needs unless he is just a true manager?" LaFond said. "I would recommend that they stick with the effective proven model of a modern fire department."




    ( Andrew Lightman can be reached at 508-634-7552 or andrew.lightman@cnc.com. )
    I dont suffer from insanity, I enjoy every minute of it.

  21. #21
    Forum Member
    Bones42's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2001
    Location
    Pt. Beach, NJ
    Posts
    10,687

    Default

    "You need the key understanding of the laws," LaFond said. "And you don't know this stuff unless you come up through the ranks."
    Interesting comment.
    "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?

  22. #22
    Forum Member
    DeputyChiefGonzo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2000
    Location
    Somewhere between genius and insanity!
    Posts
    13,584

    Default

    Let's reverse the situation....

    Let's say that it was Police Chief Horn that went out on a medical condition. Would they appoint Fire Chief Johnson to run the Police Department?

    here are my two guesses...

    A: slim
    B: none

    From the scuttlebutt I have heard at the Fire Academy from firefighters that work in communities that suround Mendon, I see the Police Chief playing the role of opportunist here.
    ‎"The education of a firefighter and the continued education of a firefighter is what makes "real" firefighters. Continuous skill development is the core of progressive firefighting. We learn by doing and doing it again and again, both on the training ground and the fireground."
    Lt. Ray McCormack, FDNY

  23. #23
    MembersZone Subscriber
    ChiefReason's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2001
    Location
    Illinois-where pertnear is close enough!
    Posts
    5,636

    Default

    Or they see an opportunity to create the position of "Public Safety Director".
    Anyone who believes that a chief's role in the fire department is purely administrative has never stood on the fireground as an incident commander.
    I agree with you, Gonzo. Police chief will be more than glad to add this to his resume.
    CR
    Visit www.iacoj.com
    Remember Bradley Golden (9/25/01)
    RIP HOF Robert J. Compton(ENG6511)

  24. #24
    Forum Member
    DaSharkie's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2000
    Posts
    4,713

    Default

    A couple of quick questions for you Captain Gonzo:

    Did Chief Johnson have the heart attack at home or on the job?

    If he had it at home is he going under the presumptive laws or just retiring or resigning? I am asking because of the wording in the article that was posted where it stated that he resigned.

    Also, I want to thank you for that IM you sent me a week ago. I tried replying but it seems you are a popular guy and your box was full.
    "Too many people spend money they haven't earned, to buy things they don't want, to impress people they don't like." Will Rogers

    The borrower is slave to the lender. Proverbs 22:7 - Debt free since 10/5/2009.

    "No man's life, liberty, or property are safe while the legislature is in session." - New York Judge Gideon Tucker

    "As Americans we must always remember that we all have a common enemy, an enemy that is dangerous, powerful and relentless. I refer, of course, to the federal government." - Dave Barry

    www.daveramsey.com www.clarkhoward.com www.heritage.org

  25. #25
    Forum Member
    Weruj1's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 1999
    Location
    NW Ohio
    Posts
    7,857

    Default

    ditto Gonzo ........
    IACOJ both divisions and PROUD OF IT !
    Pardon me sir.. .....but I believe we are all over here !
    ATTENTION ALL SHOPPERS: Will the dead horse please report to the forums.(thanks Motown)
    RAY WAS HERE 08/28/05
    LETHA' FOREVA' ! 010607
    I'm sorry, I haven't been paying much attention for the last 3 hours.....what were we discussing?
    "but I guarentee you I will FF your arse off" from>
    http://www.firehouse.com/forums/show...60#post1137060post 115

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