1. #26
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    It comes down to the jobs. Our officers have very specific duties that are attached to the positions, in addition to their place in the chain of command.

    The Chief is also automatically a District Chief in the Township Fire Department has a range of administrative responsibilities within the Township Fire Department, is the liaison to the Township Fire Board and the municipal government in general, and, of course, takes on personal liability for the operations of the company.

    The 1st Asst. Chief is the operations officer (or "Station Chief"), with duties including supervision of the Captain & Lieutenant(s), responsibility for overall operational readiness, handling of service calls, etc.

    The 2nd Asst. Chief is the records officer, who handles the fire reports, training records, apparatus and equipment maintenance records, etc.

    The Captain is the training officer and also is also responsible for all PPE and radios

    The Lieutenant(s) are assigned to routing apparatus and equipment maintenance for one or more specific rig(s)

    So, you know what you're getting into if you run for (or seek to be appointed to) a particular position, and if you don't want those duties you don't seek it. For example, our current 1st Asst. Chief was Chief for a few years prior to the Township creating the fire board and our current Township Fire Department system. He didn't feel that he was the right guy to work/negotiate with the municipal officials on a regular basis, didn't want to be tied up in the new administrative duties at that level, and really would rather focus on operations, so he stepped aside and switched places with the (then) 1st Asst. (now Chief). Similarly, there are people in the Capt. or Lt. positions who don't necessarily want to be Chiefs...because it means they will often end up on the outside performing command duties rather than inside, where they really want to be.

    So, it's not always so appealing to "move up" or take on the duties of a particular position, and this really isn't a problem as long as your system is flexible enough to allow people to sit still and let others pass them on the chain of command.

  2. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by DrParasite View Post
    now, I can't understand why someone would spend all those years in the roles as Lts, Capt, and chief officers, but when it comes to the 5 bugles, wouldn't even want to try to be the Chief

    The real question is, why WOULD anybody want to be Chief? I've been Chief for 3 years now, and let me tell you, rarely does a week go by that I don't question why in the hell I don't just hang it up. Being in charge is no fun, that's for sure. I enjoyed being assistant chief because you have some authority, some recognition, some "stroke" within the department if you have some ideas you want to try or projects you want to accomplish, but you're not overall responsible for everything that goes right or wrong within the department.

    That's a heavy weight to have on your shoulders, especially in a department like mine that does not have a good culture of officers being actually in charge of anything outside of a fire scene. Need a battery for your pager? Ask the Chief. Need gloves? Ask the Chief. Another member did something to ****** you off at a fire scene? Run tell the Chief. Member hasn't been to drill in 6 months? Chief's job to go talk to him, yank his gear, whatever.

    Joe Q. Citizen saw one of your firemen driving like a bat out of hell and running people off the road going to a stubbed toe medical call? Call the Chief.

    Got kicked off the department because you haven't been to drill or a call in months? Damn ********* Chief don't like me, it's not my fault...

    I'm working on trying to delegate more of this "people management" stuff down to the officers, but as I said, the culture of this department has always been to go straight to the Chief with your problem, and it's hard to change that thinking. Maybe because the Chief seems to always be the guy who can get it fixed? I don't know.

    I think that the newer and lower in rank you are, the more you think that you'd like to be Chief someday. Hey, you think, I've got some great ideas, I'd like to wear the white hat and give orders on the fire scene...I could do that job . As you work up through the ranks, however, to the level of Assistant Chief or Deputy Chief or whatever, you begin to be more aware of the administrative responsibilities, of the overall BS that you have to deal with on a daily basis, of the amount of time that the Chief has to spend at the station or at meetings, dealing with fire department stuff.

    Bear in mind that this is a volunteer position...your pay as a firefighter was $0 and your pay as chief, with all the associated headaches, is $0.

    So again, my question is, who in their right mind would WANT to be Chief?

    Without exception, every chief before me (at least in my 18 years with the department) left the position not because they were voted out but because they had had enough. And in each case his successor accepted the position with some reluctance, knowing that it was going to be a huge responsibility but that at that moment in time he was the best person for the job.

    There's also a loyalty factor at work here. If you're a good officer, and you think the Chief has the right vision and direction for the department, support him until he's ready to give it up.

    I'm sorry if this sounds like sour grapes, and I realize this thread was from 2 years ago, but it kind of touched a nerve. I do enjoy being Chief, even with all the hassle that goes with it. Maybe I'll get things organized enough around here so that the job will get a little easier. We'll see. I don't think a person can truly understand all the reasons NOT to run for Chief until he has been one.
    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"

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    It's good to be the "prince".As far as responsibility our Sog's read:"The Asst Chief,in the absence of the Chief shall assume all the rights and responsibilities of that position".I've got a GREAT boss and we work very well together.I like working closely with the rank and file,something the big guy seldom gets to do.This position is a good fit and I'm in NO hurry to get further into the paperwork/office jungle.My "office"is red with lots of pretty lights and rolls on four tires to locations of my or the city's choosing.Five bugles? Highly overrated! Hey Harve,you out there? There's a guy that could probably CORRECTLY answer this question. Two slot on the ladder works for me,your aspirations may differ. T.C.

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    Dwayne, your story sounds very familiar. There is a place on an Island far far away from here, where what you describe was a very familiar event. I am happy to say that times have changed, and that the Officers are doing a good job, so that the Chief can do his.

    To reply to the origin of the thread, I think that again Dwayne sums it up well. Being Chief SUCKS LOL cuz you get all the snot and not much thanks. When something goes wrong, he is the first person they look for. When it goes good, the guys get the credit - and so they should.

    I personally liked being a Captain, but never once wanted to be a "real" white hat. And nor do I. Being a Red Hat Captain I got to work at the sharp end, but also had the responsility of being a leader too. Much more fun that way.
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  5. #30
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    Captains get to fight fire. They go in.

    Senior Captains get to do truck work, which includes searching above, beyond around under through laterally, adjacent to the fire without water.

    District Chiefs get to boss people around and...well, I'm not sure what they do. But they work the same shift.

    Assistants and the big Chief work a day job. They do not fight fire.

    What more do I need to know to know I don't want to be administration?

    I think a better question is why guys join the fire department and quickly and aggressively seek desk jobs? Desks that are not on fire. In rooms that are air conditioned and not on fire. It's like guys who just drool to work at slow stations or on a cascade, rehab, command van. WHY? Why would you want to join the fire department and then not fight fire? It makes my head hurt.

  6. #31
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    to follow up with my original post, the original intent was meant to apply more to volunteer people than career staff.

    as an example, one of the people I work for was recently elected to be the Assistant Captain at his volunteer squad. When I asked his if he was going to run for captain next year (captain is the equivalent of chief in case anyone missed it) he stated absolutely not. he had no desire to serve as the captain

    so while it isn't a problem now, what happens next year? or the year after? when the current captain decides to step down, who is going to take their place? the next person in the chain of command doesn't want to move up.

    isn't it the responsibility of the chief (and maybe even the lower officers) to train their replacement? to ensure that the department is going to still go on after you leave? I know, I'm a little optmistic, so sue me.
    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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  7. #32
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    Big city perspective.

    Director (Chief of Department) = Administrative responsibilities with the city. Deals with the Mayor, HR, City Counsel, City CAO, City attorneys, etc.

    Deputy Director (Asst. Chief) = Administrative responsibilities within the department. Deals with Deputy Chiefs who oversee Firefighting Emergency Ops, EMS Ops, the Alarm Office (dispatch), Logistics, prevention, Investigations, etc.

    The Deputy Director or Asst. Chief has more to do with the day to day operations of the fire department.
    RK
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    Management is making sure things are done right. Leadership is doing the right thing. The fire service needs alot more leaders and a lot less managers.

    "Everyone goes home" is the mantra for the pussification of the modern, American fire service.


    Comments made are my own. They do not represent the official position or opinion of the Fire Department or the City for which I am employed. In fact, they are normally exactly the opposite.

  8. #33
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    Toilet Plunger Theory-
    The more plungers (bugles) you have, the more crap you have to deal with.
    My posts reflect my views and opinions, not the organization I work for or my IAFF local. Some of which they may not agree. I.A.C.O.J. member
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  9. #34
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    I knew a guy like that in the Navy.In Basic,he'd planned his whole career down even to what medals he needed to get there.I don't know what he thought he was going to do to get the MOH but knew I didn't want to be around him when he thought he had the chance to earn it.
    In some folks' eyes on these boards,I might be obnoxious,or a know nothing.All I wanted when I got on my volunteer department was a job.After I found out what it entailed,I just wanted to be a good firefighter.
    I got chewed out a few times over not so minor mistakes but no one ever said"The Board's voting on you.You might want to beat them to it and leave.Now.We'll turn your gear in for you." so I guess I didn't do too badly.
    As to rising through the ranks,if I ever got there,I wasn't wanting to go past LT for the reasons mentioned by others.It's a leadership position,but a hands on job.You get to tell people what to do but you still have the responsibility of going into the structure yourself to see the situation.
    But,all that has to wait until I return to my old department or find a volunteer department around here to join.


    Quote Originally Posted by jvencius View Post
    I've worked with folks who made it abundantly clear that either they were going to become a General some day (I'm active Air Farce for another 1 1/2 weeks) or somehow their life just wouldn't be complete. As if somehow making it to Maj/LtCol/Col wouldn't be enough, they had to wear a star or in their eyes, making a lesser rank would seem like a failure...
    .

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    I can't believe you asked that question, just as you can't believe.

    There is no possible way you, or me, can answer for someone else why or why not they do something. It is an individual choice.

    As a Chief you have total and complete responsibility of everything having to do with the FD. You have to go to city council/county/town board meetings. You have to be a politician regardless if you want to or not to maintain good relations with neighboring departments, city/county/town people, and public relations. You have to deal with all the stuff of running a department like budgets, hiring/firing, union issues, labor standards/contracts, long term plans for replacing of equipment, etc.

    I got a taste of that when I was Chief of the local airport fire department. It was ok, good expierence and looks good on a resume. I personally would love to work up to number 2, it's always nice to have a boss. Usually, once you are a Chief, your days of actual firefighting are over. You hardly ever touch a hose or ride an engine/truck. You gotta be a paper pusher and ride a desk. Some poeple like it, some don't. Some people love to get involved in the politics and issues of being Chief, some don't. There is nothing shameful or wrong with not wanting to be Chief at all.
    Jason Knecht
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    An uncle of mine retired with 32 years of service as a Captain. We should all be so lucky.

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    Lightbulb

    Quote Originally Posted by JackTee09 View Post
    Speaking from the perspective of a paid department:

    There are many reasons why someone would want to be an officer without being the chief. Perhaps the person has a check on their ego and doesn't need the bugles to realize that he made a difference in the lives of people.

    Other reasons:

    1. Not politically astute.
    2. Realizes that the job is the end of the line.
    3. Likes to actually be involved in suppression.
    4. Didn't sleep at a Holiday Inn Express last night.

    I could go on but its fairly clear.
    Add in:

    5. Salary position pays less than hourly with OT. So its a pay cut along with the headaches of politics.
    6. Chief:4 0 hrs. M-F plus greater alarm fires vs. Shift level officer who enjoys the shift schedule. (I know I'd much rather stay on shift than move to the M-F)

  13. #38
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    Speaking for my department, the Operations Chief, which is the Asst. Chief, runs the day-to-day operations of the department. The Fire Chief deals with administrative stuff, budgets, politicos and such, goes to lots of meetings.

    That being said, I wouldnt turn it down if it was offered, but I would rather by the Opps Chief.
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    Default Plunger theory 101

    Contrary to popular belief, the speaking trumpets or bugles on a fire officer's badge and collar insignia are not what they seem... they are actually "plungers".

    Lieutenants have 1 plunger: they deal with company level crap.

    Captains have 2 plungers: they deal with their own company's crap as well as the crap they get from the Lieutenants.

    Deputy Chiefs have 3 plungers. They have their own crap, as well as the crap from the Captains and Lieutenants to deal with.

    Assistant Cheifs have 4 plungers: They deal with their own crap, plus the crap from the Deputies, Captains and Lieutenants.

    Fire Chiefs have 5 plungers: they deal with all the crap generated in the Department, as well as crap from the public and politicians!
    ‎"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."
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    Lightbulb Plunger theory 102

    Whenever something bad happens at the firehouse, the game of passing the buck starts. The buck gets passed from the instigator of the incident to the whole crew, who passes it on the the company officer and up through the chain of command.

    When it hit the Chief's office.. the buck magically turns to poopies.

    As we all know...poopies flow downhill, so where the poopies land depends on your level in the organization. The beauty of rank having it's priviledge is the fact that the flow of poopie can be transferred... and if things work out right, it lands on the instugator of the incident, who started the entire process in the first place!
    ‎"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

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    Quote Originally Posted by CaptainGonzo View Post
    Whenever something bad happens at the firehouse, the game of passing the buck starts. The buck gets passed from the instigator of the incident to the whole crew, who passes it on the the company officer and up through the chain of command.

    When it hit the Chief's office.. the buck magically turns to poopies.

    As we all know...poopies flow downhill, so where the poopies land depends on your level in the organization. The beauty of rank having it's priviledge is the fact that the flow of poopie can be transferred... and if things work out right, it lands on the instugator of the incident, who started the entire process in the first place!
    Heehee...I get to watch the "flow" every day from my office in prevention. Its nice being out of the poopie loop.
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    That's exactly right Gonz!!

    Funny how that stuff works aye?
    Jason Knecht
    Assistant Chief
    Altoona Fire Dept.
    Altoona, WI

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