1. #1
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    Default Who's In Charge!

    In our small combination department we have a paid Chief, all the rest of the officers(Asst.Chief,Captains)are volunteers, we have 6 full time FF/EMT-P that work 24-48(3 shifts).If the Asst. Chief comes by after work (say 6:00 pm)and decides the trucks are dirty does he have the authority to tell the paid employees they have to clean the trucks? He doesn't know if they've run calls all day or what the chief has had them doing during daytime hours. How would you feel as a paid employee? Is this a problem or am I creating a problem by trying to address the issue. Should Volunteer officers have the authority to order paid personnnel and issue assigments if there not there everyday? Please Voice Your Opinion.

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    Exclamation

    It is all depending on the by laws of the department. Maybe the Volunteer Chiefs have the authority and can dictate policy.

    Normally after 5:00 PM unless the apparatus is filthy, all you do is hose down and leave the hard cleaning for the shift that comes on in the morning.

    I have seen some volley officer’s throw their power and rank around on paid members.

    Again, this may be allowed and if the by laws states this, then the paid guys have to follow orders!!
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    Default Re: Who's In Charge!

    Originally posted by HFD400
    Should Volunteer officers have the authority to order paid personnnel and issue assigments if there not there everyday? Please Voice Your Opinion.
    Absolutely they should. For those that will say no, the same argument of "Well, the chief is paid 9-5 monday to friday, he doesn't know what it's like during the evenings, weekends, and at 3am when we are responding to a call, so he shouldn't have the authority to make any rules about volunteers since he's not around most of the times when they are."

    I'm guessing you are a paid guy who isn't happy that he has to follow order from a volunteer assistant chief. The chain of command is there for a reason, whether you are paid or volunteer, and an assitant chief still outranks a firefighter or firefighter/paramedic.

    btw, I work as a paid EMT in a combination EMS agency, with a volunteer running the organization. and I need to follow his directions because he is a supervisor, and I'm just an EMT on the ambulance.
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    If this volly chief is only worried about how clean the rigs are...then he really doesn't have enough to do and should either spend his time with more constructive tasks or just go home and wait for his pager to go off rather than micro-manage and attempt at throwing his weight around with some paid guys.

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    Volly or otherwise, he's the Chief isn't he? If you're an employee, and your boss tells you to do something, and it's within the scope of your job, then do it. If you don't like it, find another job. Keeping trucks washed is part of the job, just like cleaning any other piece of equipment, or the station itself. Same with preplanning, fire prevention, hydrant marking or anything else that a fire department needs to do.

    Now if it's raining or he wants wash, wax, and undercarriage buffed, then we're going overboard. Same with the other volunteer officers. Throwing around orders to throw orders means someone has a big case of ego, regardless of pay status, and it's quite unprofessional. And it's not right to throw weight around whether it's towards paid guys or the unpaid guys.

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    Originally posted by FFFRED
    If this volly chief is only worried about how clean the rigs are...then he really doesn't have enough to do and should either spend his time with more constructive tasks or just go home and wait for his pager to go off rather than micro-manage and attempt at throwing his weight around with some paid guys.

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    As for the question, depends on the department SOG's. It doesnt work that way in my department, paid staff has authority over the volunteers. But with due respect to the volunteer officers, if a paid member has a problem with a volunteer, it goes through the company officer, then the opps Chief.
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    This is not unlike a sister department of yours a few miles to the west. First, paid or not, if the person is in the chain of command, they have a right to issue orders and directions; and to expect them to be carried out.

    But I'm sure that the resentment and discontent in your department is similar to that of the other town. There, the major problem is (or at least was) that there were two Chiefs; one paid and one volunteer. To complicate matters even more, the town administration provided no clear guidelines as to the authority of the two. If I'm not mistaken this parallelism extended to the level of Asst. Chief also. In addition, there were some major disagreements between the two lines of authority that were difficult to resolve because of the lack of a clearly defined chain of command.

    In my book, this resembles organizational scizophrenia; and is not good for the health of anyone. But this does not appear to be the case with your department. Therefore, I assuming the Asst. Chief serves under the blessings of your Chief, and has all the formal authority that comes with that position.

    Also, the source of much resentment was the training required by the paid members as opposed to many of the volunteer members.

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    Should he have the authority? Sure.

    Should he use it to boss around the paid guys just because he can? Absolutely not.

    There are two sides to every story, but if this guy is regularly dropping by to order a truck washing then FFRED is dead-on right.

    There is another question: Doesn't a washrag fit his hand too? Many times, I've came in from work to find guys working at the station because they had a run. I ALWAYS go by to help with the cleanup. Just because my helmet is white doesn't mean I'm allergic to a little soap and water.

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    This is why SOP's and SOG's outlining the chain of command is SO important in combo departments and career departments with volunteer components. It is in the best interest of the career guys that want to keep the paid positions available and the volunteers that want to stay involved to get together and be willing to compromise to work out a solution between them. Placing it on a city/town/county council is just looking for someone to lose a lot, and for anger levels to rise. Encourage the leadership to sit down together and work it out.

    That said, if a fire truck or engine is dirty, CLEAN IT! Show some initiative!
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    We are also a combo dept. (in eastern wake county NC) Our Asst Chief does the same thing from time to time. Some of the FT shift guys don't like it, so just go with the flow. i work part time at the dept and usually get the worst of the chores to be done. However, i try my best not to gripe or complain about what the volunteer Asst chief or the paid chief say. They are the chiefs and i have to respect what they say. Some day i will be chief and then if i want things done differently or think something should change i will be able to change it. Chances are i will do the same things they do when i get in their shoes.

    i'm not saying its right, i know where your coming from and sometimes it does suck. But that's part of the fire service and the chain of command.

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    I'm sure the town administrators assumed the chain of command still applies just as you should.
    Until you have a document (other than a paycheck)that indicates when and where the assistant chief has rank, there is rank assumed.
    If the chief doesn't want his guys washing trucks let the two of them hash it out; I'd listen to the officer and keep out of it, else your just part of the problem.
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    Let me preface: I'm a captain in a combination department. I am on the career side of the fence. This also assumes there are no clear SOGs stating opposite of my statement.


    You're a combination paid/volunteer department. That means you are ONE department, that should follow ONE chain of command. If you are below the rank of someone, volunteer or career, they can give you orders per the chain of the command. They are your superior officer. If you don't like it, find employment elsewhere.

    Tell me, at a fire, would you just ignore this assistant chief's commands? Better yet, how would you like it if a volunteer simply ignored your commands at a fire?

    Dose a paid department responding on mutual aid to a volunteer area not follow their chief's orders or the established chain of command, but override it with their own?

    Just because he's not there 'every day'(I doubt you are either) does not make him any less authoritative. He has obviously met all of the training and other requisites required for his position, or he wouldn't have it. You just seem like someone who can't handle a volunteer of superior rank giving him orders JUST BECAUSE he's a volunteer.

    In our department, the Chief is paid. I'm the highest ranking career officer. If a volunteer assistant chief comes in and asks me and my men to do something, we do it. You see, I'm getting the almighty dollar to be here, so regardless of 'running calls all day', I still have obligations to be met. And if they need done, I do them.

    Now, that doesn't mean he take advantage. In a combo department, responsibilities must be shared. But don't get your pants in a twist because he asked you to wash a truck. In the future, ask him to help next time. If you're 'tired' or something like that because you've been busy, tell him, and ask if he can help you guys out.

    We're all men(some women) in these situations, so act like it. Just because someone is a volunteer doesn't make them any less of a firefighter, or a chief, than you.
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    Exclamation Re: Who's In Charge!

    Originally posted by HFD400
    In our small combination department we have a paid Chief, all the rest of the officers(Asst.Chief,Captains)are volunteers, we have 6 full time FF/EMT-P that work 24-48(3 shifts).If the Asst. Chief comes by after work (say 6:00 pm)and decides the trucks are dirty does he have the authority to tell the paid employees they have to clean the trucks? He doesn't know if they've run calls all day or what the chief has had them doing during daytime hours. How would you feel as a paid employee? Is this a problem or am I creating a problem by trying to address the issue. Should Volunteer officers have the authority to order paid personnnel and issue assigments if there not there everyday? Please Voice Your Opinion.


    Not real sure where this guy is going with this. From his profile, it reads as follows:


    Occupation Fire/EMS chief



    Maybe he is trying to find out who is in charge or who should be!!!


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    I know, that in my own organization, 8am (starting time for the 24 hour shift) to 1630 is "Work Time." We perform all of the necessities expected of a career organization. After 1630, it is "Free Time." We do whatever until 0800 the next morning, with the exception of pulling a 2 hour watch if you are so assigned (and of course get on the BRT's if the bells ring. In the event that there is a "special" activity scheduled for after 1630, say, for example a visit to a facility for an evening fire prevention program, we knock off early for "stand-by" time as called for in our union contract. The bosses can not make us work after 1630 unless if stand-by time has been provided.

    Now, in the event that the rigs are dirty from a busy day (or night) we will all come downstairs at 0630 and wash them up. Then hit the showers, and it's time to go home.

    I also volunteer at a volunteer organization that has a paid paramedic and a paid EMT/Driver 24 hours. I believe the situation is basically the same for them- work from 0800 to 1630 or 1700. In my opinion, to order them to do something after 1700 is out of line, career OR volunteer. How do you know these guys didnt run all day, and are pooped?
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    It is all depending on the by laws of the department.
    Actually it all should depend on what it says in your collective agreement
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    Originally posted by Smoke20286


    Actually it all should depend on what it says in your collective agreement
    That will only apply to the career guys under union contract it will not give them authority over volunteers, and if you depend totally on that you will only create more animosity that can be easily avoided. You need SOG's and SOP's established that covers the situation for EVERYONE.
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    I'm the Assistant Chief of a combo department where there are no career officers. The Fire District gives the volunteer chief the responsibility of directing the day to day activities of the career firefighters. If I think the trucks are filthy, I follow my chain of command and go through the chief. On a fire scene we all follow the normal chain of command with volunteer and career firefighters respected as the same rank. I believe the direction of day to day, non emergency activities should only come from one person. I worked in a combo situation years ago where everyone felt they were your boss and it sucked.

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    I only have one question for HFD400. Did the truck/s need washing? If they did then it is your job to wash them. It should not matter who comes in and let's you know the trucks need cleaning, if it is part of your daily duties to keep the rigs clean. Sounds to me like you were asked to do something and you did not want to do it so you come here looking for back-up for not doing your job. Just get out there and wash the trucks how long can it take.
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    We don't know how the assistant acts or what kind of additude he has. Assuming he just wants dirty trucks cleaned like any other gear, then clean them. If he's getting pleasure out of ordering people around, then take it up with the chief. Would it make the paid guys feel better if this assistant started getting a pay check?
    If he's down there at 1800, he probably just got out of work somewhere, and could be home washing his own truck. Sounds like he's a good volunteer trying to do his job.

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    It definitely is a problem in combination fire departments. I'm a career firefighter in a combination department where the chief is a volunteer, the deputy chief is career, and the assistant chiefs are all volunteer. The chief officers have authority over everyone, volunteer or career. Then we have career lieutenants and career firefighters. The volunteers have volunteer captains, lieutenants, and firefighters. The career firefighters only report to the career lieutenants and chief officers. The volunteer captains and lieutenants have no authority over the career firefighters. Luckily for us, the volunteer chiefs don't normally come in and start giving out orders. If there is a problem that needs to be addressed, the volunteer chiefs will typically go through the deputy chief (who is career), and then the deputy chief will pass it along to the career lieutenats. So our siutation here isn't too bad. Although, I would like to see all of the chief positions become career. With a department the size of mine, they really should be. I don't believe that a volunteer should have authority over a career staff of some 70 guys. It's just silly if you think about it outside of the fire service. Where else would a volunteer have that kind of authority over so many employees? Imagine if the hospital volunteers ran the emergency room. But I could go on and on forever along those lines. Now of course I'm talking about a department my size with so many career employees. In a department where there are only a half a dozen career employees, it might not be reasonable to put them in command roles. They probably have the career firefighters because they need them to be on the front lines. It's hard to report to a volunteer when you're a full time employee, but I sometimes it just has to be that way.

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    It's hard to report to a volunteer when you're a full time employee, but I sometimes it just has to be that way.
    Most of the reasoning behind this is that chief officers are not required to be fireground commanders anymore, they're managers/CEOs. Not that a firefighter climbing the ranks won't make a good chief, but volunteers that climb to that level in a decent sized department usually have the educational background and work experience to be in that position. Check the Jobs Central listing here on Firehouse.com. Many of the Chief Officer positions are asking for either Bachelor's or Master's degrees mainly in Public Administration but nearly every one will take degrees in either Business or Management, not Fire Science, and firefighting experience requirements are minimal. When I'm done with my MBA I'll have 16 years in the fire service as a volunteer, and last month those two put together would have qualified me for 20 Chief Officer positions that were listed there. The ones that I wouldn't have were only because I didn't have experience managing career FFs. Kinda strange requirement, an employee is an employee and must be treated with respect regardless of the job or industry.

    A lot of the career guys I know that want to climb the ladder are going for Bachelor's degreesin Public Admin or Business Admin. The fire service is getting like every other industry out there, and a HS Diploma won't get you as far as it used to. Soon if you want to make anything above company officer you're going to need one. After all, the fire service is just a service oriented business like many other industries.

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    On my dept, which is combination. The guys who take the truck out wash it after each run. If the vollies took out the engine, they wash it. If the paid guys took out the ambulance they wash it.

    The paid guys should not be the handmaids of the vollies because"you guys get paid". There is such a thing as fairness. You make a mess, clean it up!

    BTW, I am a volly on this department. But my view is this. The firehouse is these guys home every third day, don't come in and trah the place and then expect them to clean it up!
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    I can see a problem here. This kind of questioning is unhealthy AND dangerous.

    All this concern over an order to wash the apparatus? I would hate to see what it's like at a fire scene with these guys.

    Could this be another reason why combo. departments aren't the best way to go? I know this is going to ruffle some feathers but in my opinion (it's only my opinion) if a department is busy enough and big enough to sustain career firefighters, then it should be all career firefighters.

    I know there is the financial arguement about this subject but I base my opinion on exactly why this thread was started --- chain of command and respect of that command means everything in the fire service! If you don't have it, then it affects the ability and efficiency of the department to function at the level the community deserves (and pays for).
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    Originally posted by RESERVE172
    Could this be another reason why combo. departments aren't the best way to go? I know this is going to ruffle some feathers but in my opinion (it's only my opinion) if a department is busy enough and big enough to sustain career firefighters, then it should be all career firefighters.
    So those with other full time occupations that have the ability, skills and training to help should be pushed away? Most police and sheriff departments have reserve/auxiliary components, what is the problem with a fire deparment having the same?

    The situation here is nothing that can't be handled with the proper SOP's and SOG's laying out the command structure. The key is for the structure to be created with input and consessions from ALL sides.
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    Originally posted by DennisTheMenace
    That will only apply to the career guys under union contract it will not give them authority over volunteers, and if you depend totally on that you will only create more animosity that can be easily avoided. You need SOG's and SOP's established that covers the situation for EVERYONE.
    Thats right, which is the issue here. What are the career staff's dutys, requirements, Chain of Command etc? Hopefully all this will be laid out in your contract.

    It seems to me this volunteer Deputy Chief is the one creating animosity, and should be censured for his stupidity, If the Chief has any balls
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