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  1. #1
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    Default Death by one of our own...

    Death by one of our own…

    I have been involved in Fire and EMS for more then 14 years now, and have held rank as an officer within two volunteer departments. I have seen an increasing number of women becoming involved with the fire service and doing an outstanding job. BUT I have also have seen an increase in the number of women who think that they can bat their eyes and use their womanly attributes to get what they want. Some stopping at nothing to achieve their goals “by ALL means.”

    We have one female on the department that is sleeping with a chief who is involved in a long-term living together relationship. Due to the extra curricular activities of this one female firefighter for this chief officer she is getting all the positions on the department. (No pun intended!!) It would be one thing if she was capable to hold the job, but one example is she was placed in an hourly paid position of Firewise Grant Program within the department without any of the writing or management skills to handle the job. In fact, the department ended up hiring a second person to do the job due to her lack of abilities, costing the Firewise Grants twice the money in tax payer dollars.

    This chief officer has even given this woman the position of power that carries over to the fire scene. She was not able to pass the state certification for the basic firefighting class, but yet she is one to give orders and make decisions on the fire ground. The command staff wonders why no one shows for a call, will attend training, and why the over all attitude of dissatisfied firefighters (both male and female) is growing at an alarming rate.

    The department’s moral has been on a steady dive since this affair has started. She was given the position of fire prevention officer. The job was taken from someone who was doing a good job and without the officers ever speaking to the former prevention officer. We now have a fire prevention officer that believes that appropriate behavior it to literally lift her skirt and flash the fire apparatus as the drive down Main Street during special events in our small community. This is the example our chief has decided to put forth as an example of the fire service, especially those of us who are female, to the community and our youth.

    She is also known to be very crude about her sexual conversations with other men in the area. She has been known to hold very sexual conversations in front of the Explorer Post members and in earshot of the general public while she is in uniform. One wonders if those who have heard her do this thinks that all us “girls” in the fire service have gotten to where we are in the same sexual favor manner.

    I have taken the classes, done the training and can hold my head high that my status on the fire department in the past and in the future will be earn by the same means as male member of the department. I have found great success in the fire service and still take great pride in all that I have accomplished in the same manner of my male counterparts.

    But in the mean time how do you deal with the females that have found their way by inappropriate sexual behaviors and mannerisms. How do we as women in the fire service save face when one of our own is doing so much to harm what many have worked for?

    Any suggestions, comments and help in dealing with this problem is accepted, from both men and women in the fire service. How does a department rebuild when something like this has ripped it apart?

    Thanks for your assistance in advance in solving this problem.
    KaTrinaTrainer
    Training Officer


  2. #2
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    Mar 2005
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    Sperling, MB, Canada
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    Default

    Have you discussed this with the other Officers and Crews, especially the other Female Staff? If the majority of the staff feels the same way you do, I'd recommend sending complaints up the Chain of Command. Also, document everything (all letters, complaints, etc) that you and your peers make, incase things go real sour real quick.

    Especially concerns with the competancy of the person in question during fireground operations, as this is a major concern for all Fireground personnel.

    Main Points:

    1. Follow the Chain of Command
    2. Document Everything

  3. #3
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    Post female integrity

    Not really my area of expertise but it sounds all too familiar here just likeit did when I was in the military during the "lets get females involved" period. If they can do the job who cares what sex they are. Here if they can't do the job as a firefighter they are promoted to engineer and if they can't do that they are promoted to captain and if they can't do that they are promoted to Chief. Same theory as yours and I have seen the exact same thing here with at least one female. Got a camera and tape recorder? Document, spy and then go to the press!

  4. #4
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    I'm afraid I have to respectfully disagree with lvwrench. While the media is an option, that sort of attention should generally only be sought once every other official option for resolving the issue has been exhausted.

    Additionally, jumping straight to the media may get you a reputation for being a loud mouth, which will cost you credit with both the Department and the Public.

  5. #5
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    Default What about the department morale?

    Great advice so far and will reconsider it all in making our next move. I am still at a loss but due to some creative thinking and some good documentation I think the affair may not be our biggest problem for much longer.

    I have made a list of the events and problems with this firefighter’s unbecoming behaviors at public events and on the fireground, which includes witnesses to the events. I have given a documents list of the failures to complete course work and physical test. I have also pointed out documents of question handling of grant money.

    I have taken this to the chief who she is sleeping around with in a one-on-one meeting receiving nothing more then disrespect from him. I have also addressed this at the officer’s meeting with all the other officers present. Some of the other opinions I have taken are going to the city commissioner, going to some of the other officers on a one-on-one meeting and talking to the firefighters within the department building a support group against the problem.

    This has been going on for about 2 to 3 years. I don’t believe that the department would survive going public or to the media. The city is struggling due to the loss of a company that employed over 1000 people in an area who’s population in just over 5000.

    As for the documentation of the things going on between the two, there has been no need to do much myself. Just finding on the department computer the love/sexual notes between the two as well as the pictures they are sharing with the access to digital cameras, they have done enough documentation themselves to convince me.

    I guess my skin has become thick over the years and would continue on with this affair going on because it has only a small effect on my advancement within the department. I believe they will soon see the fruits of their affair.

    My concern is now this behavior is become so public that it is effecting the department's reputation and the membership's morale. The number of people responding to the calls is dropping fast and some medial first responder calls are going unanswered. The training is suffering because most feel its not going to gain them anything. The drive of the individual firefighter and the department as a whole is dissolving, and the pride within the department is gone.

    The chief and the female will see their day of judgment. But in the mean time, are there are any suggestions on how to turn around the down hill slide of both the male and female members of the department? Is there a way to prevent the world from crumbling around the department and some how convince the group to continue to do what we truly love, which is helping others and fighting fires?

    KaTrinaTrainer

  6. #6
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    Unhappy love affair

    I appreciate the previous gentleman who disagrreed with me respectfully and I thank him. I guess that I was speaking from a big city paid department thought. Since this is small town hurting buisness there may be little to do except ride the wave until the love birds fall off the surf board. If this was a union department, which you did notr indicate, there would have been a vote of no confidence as we have done here in the past. Too bad there is not a city or town Code of Ethics like we have that could handle the crisis. We have had similar problems here resolved by such documents. Maybe if everyone just took pride in themselves as a group and shunned the problem children that might work. If this is as small a place as you say I'm sure that everyone probably knows whats happening and apparently don't care.

  7. #7
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    See, now I agree with lvwrench.

    I also recommend trying to improve the comradery of the department outside of the Hall. If you can build the Pride and Morale of the department back up away from the problem people, there is the possibility that you can recover the department.

    While I don't normally advocate "squeezing out" people as a method of dealing with a problem, if worse comes to worse, and the majority of the department is against the Chief and his mistress, then it may be best to start the process of removal/replacement of the Chief, either within the department or city officials, however your district chooses it's Chief.

  8. #8
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    Default

    As for the documentation of the things going on between the two, there has been no need to do much myself. Just finding on the department computer the love/sexual notes between the two as well as the pictures they are sharing with the access to digital cameras, they have done enough documentation themselves to convince me.
    Is there a e-mail/internet policy anywhere? Most departments and towns are very clear on this and I have seen several people fired for lesser things than this!

  9. #9
    MembersZone Subscriber DougVelting's Avatar
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    Default

    Hmm sticky one, While i have not encountered this exact situation i have dealt with and rebuilt the morale from the same depths it seems your speaking of. If you choose to let it ride as it were and still try to build the morale, be prepared to try to push a rope in a straight line.

    It can be done, but its going to take a lot of "take charge" attitude and showing the other members the error of the love birds ways and convincing them it will get better. We had members quitting "due to the bull___" as their official reason for leaving.

    Personally from a been there perspective it may be a little easier to continue with the one on one talks and see who feels the same way and slowly build your army. Once you're all on the same page and of the same feeling it will be much easier to let the chief know he's got to shape up or ship out. Always remember there's safety in numbers.

    And most importantly, as I have learned, the good of the many over the good of the few, and bellieve me i have paid my dues with that philosophy but it was well worth it.
    Doug Velting Jr
    President Cassville Volunteer Fire Co
    dougvelting@fireexec.com
    www.cassvillefire.org
    Fire Exec .com

  10. #10
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    Default Light at the end of the tunnel.

    Sometimes it is just best to let poetic justice play out! All people have a basic character they live by, and given enough space they will create their own fate…

    http://www.zwire.com/site/news.cfm?n...d=156925&rfi=8

    It is an on going mess, but little by little is it starting to work itself out!

    KaTrinaTrainer
    Last edited by KaTrinaTrainer; 09-02-2005 at 03:57 AM. Reason: add title

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