1. #1
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    Default What are they thinking?

    From the news page of Firehouse.com

    Police-Fire Merger Plan Met by Skepticism in New Hampshire


    By SCOTT DOLAN
    The Union Leader (Manchester NH)



    GOFFSTOWN -- Residents had a mixed reaction yesterday to this week's news that the board of selectmen voted to eliminate Fire Chief Frank Carpentino's position with plans to merge the police and fire departments with shared duties in the future.

    As the firefighters' union continued to rally against the selectmen's decision and the police union began scheduling a special meeting to take a position, many residents said they knew nothing about the selectmen's decision.

    During budget deliberations Monday, the five selectmen voted unanimously to cut the fire chief's job and named the current police chief, Michael French, as overseer of both departments as director of safety services.

    As the two departments merge, Selectman Chairman Gossett McRae said, police would have the opportunity to cross-train to perform firefighters' duties and firefighters could attain certification as police.

    A group of men who gather regularly at the Dunkin' Donuts on Mast Road in Pinardville said they felt the selectmen made a mistake.

    Leo Charest, who has lived in Goffstown for his entire 83 years, said over a cup of coffee that voters will likely reject the plan at the annual election because police and firefighters won't mesh.

    "You're going to find out what I think in March," Charest said. "It's not going to work."

    At the next table over, two former Goffstown residents and a friend from Manchester's West Side, felt similarly.

    "I think it's two separate jobs, and I don't see how one could do the job of the other effectively," said Ernest St. Cyr, of Manchester.

    St. Cyr and his brother in-law, Ernest Scholes, called over a friend, Walter Leach Jr., who moved from his native Goffstown to New Boston.

    "That's a bad deal," Leach said of eliminating Carpentino's job. "The fire chief should take care of the firefighters. The police chief should take care of the police."

    At Sully's Superette, on North Mast Road, Normand Hebert said he supports the selectmen's decision.

    "It's all right with me. I'm agreeable to that," Hebert said.

    Another shopper, Nate Lambert, also of Goffstown, said he opposes the decision.

    "Unless the cost savings is immense, I don't think that'll go forward," Lambert said. "You have too many jobs."

    Although the president of the firefighters' union, fire Lt. William Connor, said the members plan to fight the selectmen's decision, the police union has yet to take an official position.

    "At this point we haven't met as a union collectively yet. We are planning to take a position," Patrolman Keith Chauvette, president of the 14-member union, said.

    He did say, however, that the officers he talked to were surprised at the suddenness of the selectmen's decision Monday.

    "There have been some concerns over it. Anytime you get something handed to you like that, it's a shocker," he said. "There were a lot of questions at all the meetings and not many answers."

    Selectmen Robert Wheeler said the selectmen made the decision Monday as part of a effort to cut $1 million from the proposed budget presented by the various town departments.

    Town Administrator Sue Desruisseaux said yesterday she does not yet have the final tallied budget figures from what selectmen approved Monday.
    My own 3 cents worth, because Captains have to pay a little more...

    This is another stupid idea concocted by stupid politicians who are thinking with their wallets instead of their brain cells (all 3 of them)
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    Default Another brilliant idea

    3 brain cells?? Is that all 5 selectmen.....

    5 selectmen+3 brain cells=1 stupid idea

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    Gee, this makes me think that my idea of crossing a cat with a litterbox isn't such a bad idea afterall...
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    Thumbs down Bad Idea

    We tried a modified version of this several years ago. By modified I mean that there was not going to be any cross training of the personnel. Just the police chief would run the fire department. Only lasted about a year and was returned to traditional roles. It did not work very well at all.
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    I think the perosn who took on both departments as chief would be crazy, A fire chiefs job alone has enough responsability, merging the two jobs would lead to an overload, I feel bad for the police chief in a way. I wonder how exactly they are going to train the police chief to run a large scale emergency scene, are they going to make him take FF 1/11, ICS and fire ground control, even with those classes a lot of running a fireground is about past experience, and lets face it he most likley will be lacking in that area. It just sounds like trouble waiting to happen.

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    I know that Public Safety Departments don't work. I think everyone in here knows they don't work. My question is why? Just to play devil's advocate for a second, doesn't it make at least some sense that if you are in a small community that has limited action, merging of the two entities would provide you with a larger pool of manpower for sick time and emergencies? Can't everyone be trained to attain a high level of knowledge in both fields? (If you say no, ask George).
    The bottom line [not financially] is that as firefighters, our job is to help people, first and foremost. The same is the goal of EMS, and across the country more and more fire departments are providing at least some form of EMS. The goal of the police is to help and protect the people, so where is the conflict?
    I have been trying to think of successful PSDs and the only one I could think of were the Port Authority Officers at the airports, and I don't think they do much job swapping. I know this wouldn't work in the cities, so before you jump down my throat about that, I think that this model could only work in smaller communities that may have difficulties justifying a full time force.
    And if you are going to make a move like this, you can't just keep the police chief and terminate the fire chief, or vice versa. New agency, new direction, new leader- probably from outside
    Last edited by orangehopeful; 11-17-2005 at 10:15 AM.

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    Default nuts

    So now what; are the firefighters supposed to carry weapons and the police wear turnouts? This is as bad as the other post reagrding promotions based on who you know and what groups you belong too.

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    Default It can work, IF

    A true public safety department can work very well if a few things exist. Michigan has a number of PSD's and some work well and some don't. Basically you need a community that has a low crime rate AND a low fire hazard. For example a bedroom community with mostly single family homes and no major industrial or commercial complexes.

    On the other hand, if you have a community with a high crime rate and a high fire risk, one of the areas will suffer. It is usually the fire side.

    Kalamazoo, Michigan has the largest PSD in the country. From what I see from 30 miles away and IMO it is a so/so operation. When I'm in the city and they have a fire call, it always reminds me of some volunteer departments. Patrol cars come screaming from everywhere and then they jump out, drop their gun belt in the trunk and put on their turnout gear. Kind of fun to watch but not my idea of a good situation.

    Bottom line, for the bedroom communities it works fine. For the larger cities, the fire service always suffers.

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    We have several departments that are "combined." They are policemen on some days and firefighters on other shifts. Seems to work for them, as long as they want to do both jobs.

    Think about it... it benefits the cops but not the firefighters. This way, cops can finally be firefighters. Thats their dream isn't it?

    Before I get busted on... this was a joke. This was only a joke. If this were a real post, important information would follow. This concludes my "All cops wish they were firefighters" joke. You may now return to your regularly scheduled programming.

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    Quote Originally Posted by lvwrench
    So now what; are the firefighters supposed to carry weapons
    And this is a bad idea???

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    I interviewed for a position up there a few years ago. Even better that I didn't get the job.

    I know that I am not the only one on here that would put a years pay on it that small town politics is at work here.
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    Quote Originally Posted by BFDLT32
    We tried a modified version of this several years ago. By modified I mean that there was not going to be any cross training of the personnel. Just the police chief would run the fire department. Only lasted about a year and was returned to traditional roles. It did not work very well at all.

    Was that the Police Chief will run or the Police Chief will ruin the fire department?


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    (Quote)
    A group of men who gather regularly at the Dunkin' Donuts on Mast Road in Pinardville said they felt the selectmen made a mistake.(Quote)


    Are these guys on the PD?

    This is a bad idea. Maybe years from now, AFTER all the police officers are cross trained, it would have a prayer of working. Every town wants to save money, but this doesn't appear to have been thought out very well.

    On the brighter side, if the fire fighters were cross trained, they could arrest that idiot at the fire scene themselves.
    There goes the neighborhood.

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    Ashwaubenon, a city just outside of Green Bay does this, each employee is trained as an EMT, FF, and an officer. It seems to work very well for them, and I think, not sure, but after so many years..I think 5, you are allowed to choose a specific discipline to stick with.
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    Quote Originally Posted by jonemac
    Was that the Police Chief will run or the Police Chief will ruin the fire department?

    Actually he did not get a chance to ruin it. It was really over before anything major happened. THANK GOD.
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    I think Pete kind of nailed it --

    "Public Safety" departments work where there is low crime / low fire.

    And yep, it's basically a volunteer system where everyone happens to work for the PD

    Of course, in ten years the question becomes, "Um, if we have police officers who aren't needed as police officers since they can "volunteer" to fight fires whenever, why don't we just cut back on the police officers. We'll just call back some off-duty cops to cover when there's a fire..."

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    Thumbs down I hope I never work for a DPS again...

    Departments of Public Safety can work. Like others have said, they need to be in communities where there is low crime & low fire hazard. The other key to success is that they have to be true Departments of Public Safety. They can't be police departments that happen to own fire engines. Trust me, I worked for the latter.

    When I was hired at my current job, they were two years into splitting a Department of Public Safety into separate police & fire departments. There was one firefighter/engineer assigned to the fire division per shift with a couple of floaters (me being one). There were usually two or three cops on duty at a time... and the cops were always in charge -- even those with little or no firefighter experience.

    The police had a rank structure -- officer, sergeant, lieutenant. The firefighters had nothing -- one rank for the life of your career. When I was hired, the firefighters were forced to monitor the police radio to get their calls. At the time, we ran 500-600 calls in a year. The rest of the time, you got to hear the fuzz run license plates and check on houses while folks were out of town.

    The morale of the firefighters was low. Regardless of training & experience, they were essentially there just to drive & pump the engine. The cops were there to save the day. The police officers are all decent people... But while they claimed that they were both police & fire, they never did ANY non-emergency work in the fire division. Once the fire was extinguished, the police returned to patrol. The lone guy working the fire division was left to clean equipment and hose. That was the same lone guy who did business inspections by himself... Who tested hydrants by himself... Who did apparatus checks by himself. Yeah, the cops were firefighters, alright -- only during the moments of glory.

    Thankfully, our citizens supported the idea of separate police & fire departments enough that they passed a sales tax to complete the split. Life is much better these days. We run a full engine company now and everyone does all of the work all of the time. Morale is especially high among firefighters.

    Can a department of public safety work? Yes. But only when all conditions are just perfect -- and that includes having all employees as equals. As soon as one side has more power than the other, it stops being a true DPS.

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    As incredibly complex as both jobs are and have become, I can't see how such a thing could work.

    Most PDs around here require at least a bachelor's to apply, perferrably in criminal justice. There is so much to the law and to being a cop, I cannot imagine having to know all that they need to know and train on, and then know all that FFs need to know and train on, and be worth a crap at either job.

    We've had the same problem around here for 40 years when it comes to spec'ing fire apparatus. Every new truck had to be the "do-everything" truck, because it was going to be first-due (after all, it's the new one: gotta get it out on every call!). Consequently, all our equipment can do everything, but none do anyhing REALLY WELL. (It's changing; slowly). I see the same thing here: the PSD employees can do it all, but they aren't REALLY GOOD police officers or firefighters. Just really lucky in never having gotten hurt or gotten anybody else hurt.
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    "At this point we haven't met as a union collectively yet. We are planning to take a position," Patrolman Keith Chauvette, president of the 14-member union, said.
    the PD has 14 members in the union. broken that up into 3 shifts, that is approx 4 people per shift. assuming the FD has the same number, I can definately understand having only one "chief."

    btw, my parent's town has a public safety director. the three fire chiefs, captain of the EMS/Rescue squad, and police department all work under him, however he lets us get the job done.
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    A couple of years ago, Moline IL police and fire were led ON AN INTERIM basis by Police Chief Steve Ethridge. Chief Ethridge is an extraordinary individual who had the respect of both departments. This was only done, because the fire chief's position in Moline had been a revolving door for some years.
    Anyway, Chief did it for 7 - 8 months without incident and a new Moline fire chief has since been hired.
    This idea of combining departments MIGHT work if the RIGHT individual is selected to lead both departments; in an area with moderate to low call volume.
    But I still say: if police and firefighters are getting stressed out so early in their careers, then imagine how high your stress level will go when you're switching hats every 45 minutes!
    And if you forget to, that picture of the firefighter writing the speeding ticket will be the front page picture that will appear nationwide!
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    Sunnyvale, CA is the only largish city (pop 130,000) I know of that has a fuctional DPS, there are a handful of smaller DPS's around the state but none I would consider particularly happy situations (rifts between the volunteer FF and the paid police), most of them I've seen the PD takes the engine to the scene and volunteer firefighters fight the fire, the largest of these I know of covers approximately 30,000 and they were looking into hiring fulltime firefighters.

    I don't know alot about Sunnyvale DPS but I did apply there many years ago. As I recall when the city went to a DPS from a traditional Fire / Police set up the people in those agencies were allowed alot of input which is why it worked. As a new hire you go through a police academy and a fire academy, once you start to specialize (detective, hazmat etc) or after a set amount of time (3-5 years as I recall) employees can drop their involvement in "the other side", until that point employees rotate, 6 months as PD, 6 months Fire (maybe it was a year), cross trained PD do carry fire equipment in the patrol cars for additional man power at major incidents. For the most part however it is an just a combined admin, when assigned to PD they do not respond to routine fire calls and Fire is not responding to PD calls.

    For the most part I agree DPS is not a good idea but it can work under the right circumstances and with the right people.

    Not the most exciting website (and kind of ironic considering the city is in the heart of silicon valley) but if anyone is interested

    http://www.sunnyvale.ca.gov/

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    Thumbs down Been there & done that...

    Quote Originally Posted by ChiefReason
    And if you forget to, that picture of the firefighter writing the speeding ticket will be the front page picture that will appear nationwide!
    A couple of years ago, there was a high-profile pursuit that originated in our city. As the new helicopter followed the chase, who was the lead vehicle? Why yes... It was a RED Dodge Durango -- which belonged to our fire marshal at the time. He was hired under DPS rules. He was both a police officer and a firefighter. And despite the fact that he's an overall good guy and that he was in charge of the fire division at the time, he thought he'd go chase bad guys in a fire vehicle.

    When the chase ended and the cops all hopped out to make the arrest, what did the news footage show? Someone wearing a fire department uniform -- the same one I (a guy without a gun) wears every shift -- assisting in the affair.

    If you're going to go both ways... You have to do it very carefully.

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    Quote Originally Posted by cozmosis
    A couple of years ago, there was a high-profile pursuit that originated in our city. As the new helicopter followed the chase, who was the lead vehicle? Why yes... It was a RED Dodge Durango -- which belonged to our fire marshal at the time. He was hired under DPS rules. He was both a police officer and a firefighter. And despite the fact that he's an overall good guy and that he was in charge of the fire division at the time, he thought he'd go chase bad guys in a fire vehicle.

    When the chase ended and the cops all hopped out to make the arrest, what did the news footage show? Someone wearing a fire department uniform -- the same one I (a guy without a gun) wears every shift -- assisting in the affair.

    If you're going to go both ways... You have to do it very carefully.
    Kinda reminds me of the episode on "The Andy Griffith Show" where they were doing the movie "Sheriff Without A Gun". Gavin McCleod played Sheriff Taylor's character. What a hoot.
    Tell you what, Coz; here in Illinois, the LEO with the most clout? Officers of the Department of Conservation. No kiddin'.
    But firefighters chasin' bad guys? Yeah; arson investigators, but that's about it for me.
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