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    Default In need of a written rule or law

    I can't find the info I need anywhere. Can anyone tell me of the presence of an NFPA rule or law that states something to the effect of "A fire officer cannot make critical decisions if an officer under them is a family member". or "A fire officer cannot be incharge of another fire officer that is a family member".

    I need to rewrite a proposed bylaw/SOG change, and if there is such a written rule, it would be so much help... Any help that could be offered, I'd really appreciate it!

    -Blue

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    I don't think NFPA has any nepotism recommendations.

    Many employers, however, do have such policies. It's quite common.
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    Check with the Human Resources department of your city/town/village and see if they have such rules in effect. A rule of this nature is regulated by the governing body.

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    Originally posted by BFDLT32
    Check with the Human Resources department of your city/town/village and see if they have such rules in effect. A rule of this nature is regulated by the governing body.

    They don't, thats why I was looking for one.

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    Our Department added this to our own rules. They can't even ride in the same truck

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    Blue..

    Just for your knowledge, nothing in the NFPA Standards are rules, laws or regulations. They are simply standards. There is no legal obligation for any fire department to follow them, however, should you be sued, most courts will use them "as the accepeted performance standards of the industry".

    And no, they do not cover anything like your question.

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    Posted by blueeighty88
    I can't find the info I need anywhere. Can anyone tell me of the presence of an NFPA rule or law that states something to the effect of "A fire officer cannot make critical decisions if an officer under them is a family member". or "A fire officer cannot be incharge of another fire officer that is a family member".
    There is no NFPA standard for dealing with your situation. If you are a paid call/volunteer FD, you have to accept who you get responding. You can't pick and choose if the only response you get is a member of the family.

    In my FD, realtives such as father/son, father/daughter are on different groups. There have been cases where they work overtime together with the other's group, and if there is a department reacll they just may work together on the same crew.

    Is there a reason for the question, such as favoritism?
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    I learn something every day. That's why I like this forum so much. Personally, I look forward to a day when my son responds and works a fire with me. To think that there are places with rules against it never crossed my mind. What are some of the reasons for an sog like this?

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    Default NFPA has nothin to the effect

    As far as i know there is nothing stated by NFPA on this particilar subject. I do know for a fact that many fire dept. have an SOP that states that there will be no relitaves in charge of any other relitaves for the simple fact that they could possibly favor them and give them the easy jobs. But as far as NFPA I don't think that they could possibly make a ruling on this topic for the simple fact of small town volunteer fire dept. becuase in a lot of small towns everyone is related to everyone so eventually there would be some relitaves in charge of someone. as a matter of fact if i were still in my home town my dad would be in charge of me


    Stay safe everyone

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    Default just repeating the word, defining it, and giving an example

    Nepotism
    nep·o·tism (nĕp'ə-tĭz'əm)
    n.
    Favoritism shown or patronage granted to relatives, as in business.


    Example:
    *************************
    Derby FD
    Derby, Kansas
    Nepotism Policy: No person shall be considered for a position in any department if that person is a member of the immediate family of another employee within that department.
    *************************

    (not saying it's good or bad)
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    Smile Pertinent article

    DOES NEPOTISM HURT THE FIRE SERVICE?
    BY JAY LOWRY

    "It is the family business" ... or so goes the saying for many firefighters. Since the dawn of the American fire service, families have played a tremendous role in staffing fire stations around the country. The old wisdom was that firefighters from a family of firefighters are more often than not better prepared to serve their community. It is quite easy to estimate that if volunteer departments had forbidden family members from participating, the fire service would have been dealt a tragic blow. Young children admire firefighters; for the son or daughter of a firefighter, that fascination can be multiplied tenfold.

    One officer interviewed for this article stated, "Someone who has grown up in the family of a firefighter has a good understanding of those traditions and why they are important. They understand that firefighters are role models in the community both on and off duty."

    In the course of preparing this article, I interviewed chief officers from around the country. Only a few names will appear, but all who participated are part of this article. It is not a fire service tradition to hire family. It is a family tradition to go into firefighting, which translates into a large difference when looking at the entire situation. Young children who sit at the feet of their mothers and fathers listening to tales of the job are more often than not intrigued by this mysterious, romantic vocation. It is difficult to find a child who is not mesmerized by a fire truck. For the child of a firefighter, that mesmerizing quality takes on greater fascination. When the children become teens and visit the fire station, they often find what they love, and to deny them a proper place at the table of the brotherhood and sisterhood of firefighters seems at a glance as spiteful.

    CHILDHOOD

    Without fail, firefighters gratefully acknowledge those members of families who have contributed to the fire service. One item that sticks out in a sea of comments is the desire of family members to serve their communities. Thomas Stone, chief of the Easton (MA) Fire Department, maintains that the fire service is unique in that although most children at some point want to grow up and be like Mom or Dad, it usually loses its appeal as children age. Stone states, "For whatever reason, the fire service is one of those careers that maintains its appeal. Sons, daughters, brothers, and sisters remain committed to doing the exact same thing."

    This view is shared by many and is a key component in the rich history of the fire service. It is more than the red trucks, sirens, and excitement of a call. It is usually the call to service, the belief in something greater than one's self. This is not to say that excitement never leads to the decision to follow in Mom or Dad's footsteps. Often, the excitement is generated by talking about the job.

    Dan Shook, a lieutenant with the Fairport Harbor (OH) Fire Department, notes the excitement for him was "hearing all of the war stories that Dad told at the dinner table. They ranged from almost dying from a fall through a roof to the gore of the fatal car accident he was just on. All of it, although dangerous, was and is exciting."

    Shook goes on to describe the influence of his father not only in becoming a firefighter but also in learning the vital role of leadership. Shook explains that his father "led by example" and has motivated the younger Shook to want to be "half the officer" that his father was when he was active. The pride in Dan Shook, both for his chosen vocation and for his father, is an unmistakable sign of fire service and family tradition. This is not an isolated case; it is prevalent in departments across the nation. In short, it starts in childhood and manifests itself in adulthood.

    IS TRADITION A PROBLEM?

    It is impossible to talk about the tradition of families in the fire service without mentioning charges of nepotism. For many, it is a real issue. A popular dictionary describes nepotism as "favoritism shown or patronage granted to relatives, as in business."

    Nepotism is commonly seen in family businesses, car dealerships, and even corporations. The fundamental argument comes down to one central question: Does nepotism hurt the fire service?

    Some fire service leaders think that only harm can come when nepotism is allowed to flourish. What would an officer do if his son were trapped in a building? Would he exercise good judgment, or would that officer take more chances than he would take if his son were not involved? This is a debatable point and one that is not easily resolved. We all would like to believe that professionalism wins out in the end, but few seem to possess the ability to block out that a son or daughter is working for them and should always be treated the same as any other employee. However, is this necessarily true?

    Psychologists debate the merits of this type of argument, and results are inconclusive to say the least.

    Another point often raised is, Will that son or daughter have a chance off duty to call on "Dad" or "Mom" or "Son" to offer advice, seek counsel, or talk shop? If these conversations have an impact on how the officers handle those in their charge, is that ethical? If called on, what parents would completely remove their child from the equation? What about other firefighters who are not able to call on that officer in the same way as a relative can? Legally, is that equality? Nepotism might lead to discrimination lawsuits that are becoming more prominent in our litigious society.

    Fire chiefs and administrators had better have a good explanation for each move that is made. Nepotism has been cited in several cases before the Supreme Court as contributory to discrimination lawsuits. One example that describes the possible problems of nepotism involves a father who was an assistant chief. His son became the chief, and interviews were held to determine the next battalion chief. No test was given, just an oral interview. Three department members conducted the interview: the chief, his father, and an assistant chief. The younger son of the assistant chief and the brother of the chief were promoted to battalion chief over a dozen other candidates, all of whom were senior in time and had acting battalion chief experience. This occurred in a paid department with roughly 300 members. Of 11 line chiefs, there were the two brothers and the father—the chief, an assistant chief, and a battalion chief—and two other assistant chiefs whose sons were captains and eligible to act in a battalion chief's role. In percentage terms, three families held 54 percent of the line chief officer positions. The arson investigator's son was also a captain, and the public affairs officer had a son who was a captain.

    To say that these arrangements caused morale problems is an understatement. The legality of the moves was in question but was never fully pursued because of fear of retribution. Opponents of nepotism cite hundreds of cases like this one as evidence that it is not wise to hire family. In one of its divisions, the Department of Defense has the following written policy:

    "Nepotism occurs when relatives are in the same chain of command. A management official or supervisor with authority to take personnel management actions may not select a relative for a position anywhere in the organization under his or her jurisdiction or control. They, or other public officials having the authority to appoint, employ, promote, or advance persons or to recommend this action, may not advocate or recommend a relative for a position."

    It is easy to infer from this policy that the chain of command is important. Anything that might become an obstacle or cause someone to make decisions based on personal loyalty is apparently unwise and dangerous.

    Another person interviewed cited the O'Sullivan brothers, five of whom were killed when their ship was sunk during World War II. Why would anyone let five brothers serve on a warship? Why would anyone let relatives serve in the same department? Whole families can be wiped out at one incident.

    So what does one make of nepotism? While it is true that hundreds of cases can be made against it, is it not equally true that hundreds of thousands of cases can be made for embracing family members as firefighters?

    DEBATING THE ISSUE

    Why is the fire service the target when people speak of nepotism? Plumbers, ironworkers, police officers, physicians, and other governmental workers can follow in a father or mother's footsteps without being questioned. It would seem the fire service is the target because when people speak of tradition, the fire service comes to mind. Like any other vocation, there are good results from participants and bad results. Firefighters are called to prove themselves time and again. If a person is not, to borrow a line from friends in Boston, a "good Jake," then he is stigmatized. It may not be right, but that is the way it is. Family does not matter when firefighters sit down to discuss who is reliable. The stakes are far too high for each firefighter. If you are a good firefighter, most other things can be forgotten. This is not the case when someone is sub-par at performing his duties. He will be told without hesitation. It is also a fallacy to think that someone cannot be objective when dealing with a family member.

    One example of this is an assistant chief who suspended his son for being one minute late. This particular chief followed the rules, and he expected his son to do the same.

    On the scene of an emergency, many state that they see fire and firefighters and they deploy them regardless of family connections. During the course of a fire or other emergency, there is precious little time to analyze the "who" when the "what" is taking up your attention.

    Just as in any vocation, common sense has to play a role in how the fire service deals with family and tradition. It is a common practice to discard what is not working and maintain what works best. Wholesale change just for the sake of change is counterintuitive and counterproductive. Do you really want to remove from consideration an excellent candidate because he has a sister on the job? Do you hire someone of lesser abilities and take a chance that this person might make a mistake that causes injury or death? Disqualifying someone based on color, religion, gender, or family is abhorrent. All are equally discriminatory.

    It is true that action has been taken with respect to nepotism, but judges are reluctant to deny someone the opportunity to earn a living or participate in his job or volunteer activity of choice. Who is more likeable than a volunteer? The communities of many jury members most likely are protected by volunteer firefighters, and everyone passes through jurisdictions where volunteers protect the populace. With respect to paid firefighters, it is an issue of denying someone the right to earn a living. Again, though, chiefs and managers must use common sense to ensure that family members take the same tests, receive the same training, and follow the same rules as other firefighters.

    IN THE END

    All firefighters are judged by performance. There can be no doubt that common sense must prevail in hiring and promotion practices. This can be said of departments that do not allow family members as well. However, to strip away an individual's right to follow in the footsteps of his family members is inexcusable and wrong.

    Firefighting is a profession. Like any other profession, there are rules and codes that must be followed. Often, when sons or daughters of an officer join a department, they are rarely given any slack and must make a name for themselves. This has occurred for centuries, and it can promote real growth in a young firefighter.

    Tradition is not just a catchphrase in the fire service; it is a deep motif that goes to the core of every single firefighter. If you remove that, the job becomes "soul-less," and it suffers damage. Firefighting is family. Those who follow family members onto the job bring great credit on themselves, their family, their department, and the fire service.

    JAY LOWRY is a former firefighter and senior fire marshal for Charleston, South Carolina. He has served on various NFPA committees and has been published in fire service journals. He is a certified firefighter, fire inspector, and fire marshal.

    Fire Engineering October, 2003
    Author(s) : Jay Lowry
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    Arrow NADA on NFPA

    I do know of some places that have a rule that you are talking about and as far as I know the reason it is in place has to do with getting/being injured or LODD. So that if you and your spouse were on the same shift, you couldnt be on the same company, in the horrible event something happened it would not affect both parents/bread winners etc .......
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    It is not against the law to hire relatives. It is not against the law to fire relatives. It IS against the law to make decisions based on their relationship to the decision maker.
    Avoid it at all costs. It can cost big money if proven.
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    I do know of some places that have a rule that you are talking about and as far as I know the reason it is in place has to do with getting/being injured or LODD. So that if you and your spouse were on the same shift, you couldnt be on the same company, in the horrible event something happened it would not affect both parents/bread winners etc .......
    My husband is our DC and I am your basic FF. When I joined it was made clear to the Department that I would not do interior attack for that reason. It has been honoured and no ill feelings toward me. Besides, I have plenty to do on the outside.
    I feel I wouldn't be a responsible parent OR FF if my decision was otherwise. It is something that was thought through very carefully.
    I didn't become a mother and FF to leave my child an orphan or motherless. I didn't become a FF to create nespotism accusations for the Dept so there were on-going discussions for a bit until we got things clear in everyone's mind. I was invited to join the Dept; I was not knocking on the door whining and begging. As soon as the concerns were addressed I joined and I have been proud to do this job ever since. The dept. has become a big part of my life and I am proud that I can call them "brother."
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    why not? we had it on my department, where the chief was the father of the captin. we have also had siblings on the department, fathers and sons, husbands and wives, and often one of those was an officer.

    I don't see a problem with it. to make a bylaw would mean that no one could have a family member in the department, because there would be the chance that one would be acting officer incharge or another. or the chief's son can't join. or the captain's little brother or sister can't join.

    heck, look at backdraft (a great portrayal of the fire service ), where the Company Lt. was the older brother of the rookie FF. or in Ladder 49, where the two brothers were on the same engine company.

    I can understand why you would think it's a nice idea, but I think it will be more detrimental than benficial in the long run.
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    Originally posted by CaptainGonzo
    Posted by blueeighty88



    Is there a reason for the question, such as favoritism?

    No.
    Last edited by blueeighty88; 04-18-2005 at 06:49 PM.

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    to make a bylaw would mean that no one could have a family member in the department, because there would be the chance that one would be acting officer incharge or another. or the chief's son can't join. or the captain's little brother or sister can't join.

    [/B]
    I didn't say that, don't read something in to it that isn't there.
    My post says nothing like what you explain. It says I was looking for a law, rule, standard, etc. that says something to the effect that the chief officer can't be in charge of or make critical decisions for people whom he is related to. Nothing said about not letting them join the FD.

    I only asked a question, don't try to make me look like a Mutt!


    If you picked any random person off the street, and made them a fire officer... You would probably see what I'm talking about. It's complicated. I thought I'd search around the net before I ****ed anyone off by bringing it up in a meeting. Officer positions based on seniority, vs. actual training. I'm not qualified for the positions, so its not like I didn't get my way w/ something. I was given the task of writing a bylaw, and I was looking for info to back it up with.

    Thats all. Innocent question.
    Last edited by blueeighty88; 04-18-2005 at 06:57 PM.

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    Originally posted by blueeighty88
    I didn't say that, don't read something in to it that isn't there.
    My post says nothing like what you explain. It says I was looking for a law, rule, standard, etc. that says something to the effect that the chief officer can't be in charge of or make critical decisions for people whom he is related to. Nothing said about not letting them join the FD.
    ok blue, maybe i did read too much into your question. lets use this comment from you: "says something to the effect that the chief officer can't be in charge of or make critical decisions for people whom he is related to."

    ok, so your dad is the chief (hypothetically speaking). then on a call, he would in in charge of you. and since you want to prevent that, you want to create a bylaw to prevent it form happening. so any calls where the chief is on scene or responding, you, as his son, should not be permitted to go. and if your not permitted to go on those calls, then why even be on the department? same if the older brother or parent was a line officer, could a FF serve under the command of the sibling?

    now, your dad is still chief. you have FFII, fire officer training, hazmat training, ICS, and a ton of other courses, as well as 10 years as a FF. now, should you be able to be a line officer? after all, you are qualified for the position. but because the chief is your dad (and he is also qualified to hold that position), you shouldn't be able to hold that position?

    blue, maybe you can explain how that type of bylaw would be beneficial to your organization? and while you are at it, please explain how the two examples that I provided above will not occur if this type of bylaw is passed.

    btw, I wouldn't pluck a guy off the street and make him an officer, and anyone and any department who would is a total idiot and complete moron. only after he has the proper training and experience would I even consider making him or her an officer. and who he or she is related to would never factor into the equation.
    Last edited by DrParasite; 04-20-2005 at 12:50 AM.
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    Originally posted by DrParasite


    btw, I would pluck a guy off the street and make him an officer, and anyone and any department who would is a total idiot and complete moron. only after he has the proper training and experience would I even consider making him or her an officer. and who he or she is related to would never factor into the equation.

    I hope you meant "I wouldn't".

    All I wanted to know is if it was a law, rule or standard; and some ideas. I don't want a ****ing match. My question was answered. I wrote my bylaw, and created a board of members to act as a court, persay, to handle situations as we were faced with.

    To end the matter, until someone else creates another thread to lure you away...

    The Situation.

    Officer A is the only one that was granted permission, through 50 y/o bylaws, to punish any member for infractions of the brand new SOG. Why weren't the bylaws changed, even before the SOGs, who knows, probably because officer A has been in charge since they were made.

    Officer A is the father of officer B.

    Officer B really fudges up, someone gets hurt because of this.

    Officer C complains to officer A, that officer B doesn't have the training necessary for the task he was performing, and Officer D got hurt.

    Officer A doesn't want to hear any complaints, and punishes any person that complains about the infraction.

    It's okay for Officer A to be in charge at a scene over Officer B.

    Officer A should not be incharge of deciding weather or not Officer B is a total idiot or it was a freak accident.

    So. A board made up of Officer C, E and F are made to decide. All are trained for every position, and have expirence and knowledge.

    They decide that officer A cannot be involved in the decision process for punishment, and that the Bylaws need to be updated. It was decided that Officer A cannot make the decision because his position as father bias his decision as an officer.

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    hey blue, your right about the typo, i have corrected it in the original post.

    in your example, it would appear that your issue isn't with a nepotism thing, but rather having an unqualified officer in officer B's position. so instead of creating this bylaw, why aren't you trying to get officer B out of his position?

    btw, if you are going to make that bylaw, it would probably be a better idea to specify that family members cannot be involved in the disciplinary actions of other family members, to prevent the appearence of bias from the personnel involved. Also, in this case, the next ranking uninvolved officer would be the person who decides what disciplinary action (if any) is to be taken.

    btw, you don't need to create another thread to "lure me away." had you given a better description of what you had wanted to accomplish with this bylaw, then I wouldn't have even bothered typing up a reply, and would have simply replied that there wasn't any such rule.
    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!

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    heck, look at backdraft (a great portrayal of the fire service ), where the Company Lt. was the older brother of the rookie FF. or in Ladder 49, where the two brothers were on the same engine company.
    Which goes to prove that even after sending "a case of Scotch to the captain in charge of station assignments", nepotism can still occur (man, I've seen that movie too many times.....)
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    What if Officer's C,E, and F are all brothers?

    Make rules determining officer qualifications and standards. That will help you more than this other silly thing you wrote.
    "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?

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    Ohhhhh this subject sucks. We are going through the "nepotism" ringer right now. We just had a hiring and through the process it was found the chiefs son was the best candidate. He is also a captain on the department (we are combined vol/career). I will vouch for the chiefs son - who I have known for 10 years( since he was a teenager) that he has gotten to his position through hard work and dedication. In a fire - damn rights I want him with me.

    We have an old nepitism bylaw - we approached town council two years ago to have this quashed as we believe in tradition and maintaining a strong department. Council agreed to put nepitism aside as long as an outside source did the hiring (chief could not be involved at all). Same thing this year - chief was not involved and his son was the best candidate.

    Now that he has started (April 18, 2005), the town managment is trying to raise the nepitism clause. They have also drafted a nepitism policy that would be retroactive. Now - Alberta labour laws state that you can not discriminate in your hiring - so who is right?

    Any one want to put their two cents in on this? RESQ14 thanks for posting the article.
    -I have learned people will forget what you said,
    -People will forget what you did,
    -But people will never forget how you made them feel!

  25. #25
    Forum Member

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    Apr 2005
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    67

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    Sounds to me like Officer B is unqualified, and Officer A is incapable of effectively governing those under him. If an officer is unable to make objective decisions about the people below them, they should not be an officer. It really doesn't matter if the favoritism is due to DNA, marriage, friendship, skin color, religion, or personal likes and dislikes. I have served on a department with family members for nearly 12 years. There are other family groupings on our department. If one of those members were given preferential treatment, the officer would have to answer for it.

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