1. #1
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    Default 'Old school' firefighter quits after reprimand

    By Nicole Macintyre
    The Hamilton Spectator
    (May 3, 2006)
    A volunteer firefighter has quit his job after being reprimanded for using his pickup truck to get the Jaws of Life to an accident.

    Larry Armes threw the equipment in the back of his truck when a fire engine at the Mount Hope station wouldn't start.

    He then ignored a superior's order to turn back because another truck from an Ancaster station was already on the scene.

    Both sets of equipment were used to free the trapped driver.

    "He should be praised for what he did, not reprimanded," Councillor Dave Mitchell said.

    "He did what any other good firefighter would do."

    But fire officials says Armes's insubordination and actions risked health and safety.

    "Clearly that is not the way we respond to emergencies," Hamilton fire Chief Jim Kay said.

    Armes, 60, has volunteered with the rural fire station for a decade. He's walking away with a sour taste, believing he's too "old school" for the new force.

    He was at work in his welding shop April 20 when a call came in about an accident on Sawmill Road with someone trapped.

    Armes arrived at the station to discover the truck with the rescue equipment wouldn't start. As other firefighters left in another vehicle, Armes stayed behind with a rookie to try to get the vehicle going. When it wouldn't start, Armes said he had a choice to make.

    "Stay there with the equipment and do nothing or get the equipment to the scene and possibly be able to help someone."

    He threw the rescue gear in his truck and took off for the accident with the probationary officer. When he was less than two kilometres from the scene, Armes said he radioed his captain to say he was on the way. He was told to head back because another truck from an Ancaster station had responded.

    Armes drove on anyway, deciding he still might be of some help. At the scene, firefighters used both sets of equipment to free the injured woman.

    After a meeting with his supervisors, Armes was formally reprimanded for failing to follow orders and exposing himself, his fellow firefighter and the public to a "potential, unnecessary risk to health and safety."

    Armes was reduced in rank from lieutenant to first-class firefighter for 90 days and received a black mark in his file.

    He quit.

    Kay stands behind the reprimand, saying the department can't allow firefighters to transport equipment on their own. The Jaws of Life contains corrosive oil, which requires the equipment to be carefully stored.

    "It's a health and safety issue," he said, noting he doesn't question Armes's motivation. "He had nothing but good intentions."

    The firefighters' union could not be reached for comment.

    Armes said he can understand the department's rational that they don't want to encourage such behaviour, but argues the truck not starting -- due to a dead starter that was immediately fixed -- was an exceptional circumstance.

    The blending of volunteer and professional fire crews has not always been smooth since amalgamation. In the past, rural volunteers did whatever was needed to get the job done, says Armes.

    "... if the same thing happened again and I thought that someone was in danger and needed that equipment, I probably would do it again."

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    Default Improvised and got the job done!

    I'm inclined to agree with Councillor Dave Mitchell. "He should be praised for what he did, not reprimanded."

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    Quote Originally Posted by RoadsideRay
    I'm inclined to agree with Councillor Dave Mitchell. "He should be praised for what he did, not reprimanded."
    Yup same here. The reasoning of transporting the tool because of the corrosive oil is a load of crap too.

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    He was told to return to quarters and the equipment wasn't needed because of mutual aid. He intentionally disregarded the orders and continued to the scene. He was reprimanded. I'm not seeing the issue here. Instead of taking his punishment like a man for what he knew he shouldn't have done, he resigned and went crying to the newspapers.

    He was told to do something, he did the exact opposite. He got punished for it. That is how it works. Sure the hydrolic oil thing is BS but that really has nothing to do with deliberatley disregarding the orders of command on scene.
    Last edited by nmfire; 05-03-2006 at 08:32 AM.
    Even the burger-flippers at McDonald's probably have some McWackers.

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    Quick question, why didn't they put the "Jaws" on the engine that did respond? If it can be moved to a pickup, it can be moved to another engine.

    Also, why are they contacting the The firefighters' union about a volunteer?
    "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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    I don't think the reprimand has anything to do with his decision to transport the Jaws. It has to do with him disobeying an order while enroute.
    I think he did the right thing by transporting the Jaws POV. It was very quick thinking that could have helped saved someone. As the Councillor said, he should be commended.
    Unfortunately while enroute he was told to return to quarters and disobeyed that direct order. I can understand why he was reprimanded for this.
    I would think that the two acts cancel out. He did the right thing with the tools, but should have turned around when he was ordered to.

    As for Bones question, the article doesn't say how delayed the POV response was after the 1st engine responded. It probably took a little time to try to get the 2nd engine started and then realize it was futile and pull the tools/pump. Maybe the initial engine already had tools?

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    If their engine's are anything like our engines, there wouldn't be room for a portable hurst unit unless you want to put it on your lap. That isn't going to be practical all the time.
    Even the burger-flippers at McDonald's probably have some McWackers.

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    Default The Chief is the Chief

    Yes he should have returned. BUT.... The article said BOTH sets were used. Sounds like pretty heavy extrication and it also sounds like a Chief that dosent have a grip on what his on-scene needs are/were. Which is worse? Plus, we all know there are plenty of egos and personalities in the fire service. I am confident to specultee that they were in play during this incident.
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    Quote Originally Posted by MIKEYLIKESIT
    Yes he should have returned. BUT.... The article said BOTH sets were used. Sounds like pretty heavy extrication and it also sounds like a Chief that dosent have a grip on what his on-scene needs are/were. Which is worse? Plus, we all know there are plenty of egos and personalities in the fire service. I am confident to specultee that they were in play during this incident.
    Well, I must apologize for a fellow white hat. If this firefighter did not have a history of insubordination, then I would be inclined to think that a first offense could have been handled with a one on one, with the verbal warning that if it happened again, discipline would occur. A simple talk with the man in this case would have been appropriate.
    But...
    If this incident included that the firefighter was driving his POV in a careless and reckless manner while enroute, then that is another issue.
    If the chief is concerned about the corrosive oil in the Jaws, then he needs to beef up his maintenance program.
    Though I don't agree with the level of discipline handed out in this case, I am disappointed that the firefighter quit. Sounds like my kind of guy and I would have found a way to harness his "energy".
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    Just because they used it doesn't mean it was needed. It sounds to me like they said "Well, since it is here, we'll use it" but it should not have happened. And even if it was needed and the chief made the wrong call:

    1) He was told not to continue responding with it
    2) He responded anyway violating a direct order
    3) He was reprimanded for violating the direct order
    4) He quit over this minor reprimand which is really lame
    5) He cried to the newspapers over this minor reprimand
    6) He made himself and his department look bad over this minor issue.
    Even the burger-flippers at McDonald's probably have some McWackers.

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    Unless and until more info comes out to clarify this little fiasco, I'm leaning with NM on this one. Orders are orders, and this doesn't sound like a 2-second life or death decision. If the orders are wrong, it's on the Chiefs head.

    There has got to be more to the story. I just don't see the good-guys getting crucified for minor flubs that often. Usually there is some history there.

    And it sounds to me like the second truck and Mutual aid handled the call, and he just happened to get there in time to play a little. Does not necessarily mean that the equipment was "Required".

    I would love to know the backstory.
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    Actually, I'm going to edit my response to say that he should have returned to quarters because what if, during this fiasco, that there another extrication call came out? They dept. would have been screwed because thier mutual aid comany was already covering one call, and their tools were tied up in the back of this guys truck? Plus, he was told to go back by his Captain on scene- who would have suffered the legal ramifications had thier been any. What a wackjob.
    Last edited by KEEPBACK200FEET; 05-03-2006 at 12:48 PM.
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    He was within 2K of the MVA, what is that a 1/2 mile? There must be hard feelings between him and the chief before this happened.
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    Where does it say anything about how far away he was?

    And after reading it again, I missed the part about him being a Lt. That is even worse. An OFFICER that deliberately disregards a superior officers orders, then cries to the media and quits.
    Even the burger-flippers at McDonald's probably have some McWackers.

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    Whoa- 10 years on the job equals "old school"??? I have been on the biz for 19 years and I am not really old school.

    As stated, following orders and not freelancing is important. He should have played by the rules.

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    Odd you should mention that Bou.Mebbe a bit of cow would make you "old" school,Hehe T.C.

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    Again and again, I have worn leather and currently wear a traditional type helmet. After trying them all, I narrowed it down to what works best.

    So what makes you old school?

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    Quote Originally Posted by ChiefReason
    Though I don't agree with the level of discipline handed out in this case, CR
    Good points CR....But (with the few facts that the story unviels), it dosen't seem that the discipline was extraordinary. I mean he wasn't fired, suspended or even put on probation according to the story......It looks like he was just reprimanded with a note in his file. Seems to me that the guy got hollered at (and documented) for failing to follow an order and flipped off the handle then went crying to the press....... sounds like a not very mature response.

    I could be wrong...just basing my opinion on the little bit from the article.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bones42
    Also, why are they contacting the The firefighters' union about a volunteer?

    Our dept. is paid on call volunteer and belongs to a union for barganing.
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    What a baby. I agree with NM. He disobeyed orders. He got the job done. Take your discipline like a man and move on.

    I see someone desperate to be thought a hero. He runs to the media because he didn't get the laudits he thought he deserved. He's done nothing but him and the department look bad to the citizens.

    Pathetic.
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    It looks like he was just reprimanded with a note in his file.
    It says...
    Armes was reduced in rank from lieutenant to first-class firefighter for 90 days
    Reduction in rank is more than a reprimand.

    Our dept. is paid on call volunteer
    I still have a hard time understanding how "paid on call" is volunteer. But that's just me.
    "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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    Default My Take

    I dont know why he didnt radio ahead before loading the equipment in his truck. We used to have a rescue that was manual trans. When it wouldnt start wich happend oftien since it was also our mini-pumper at the time, we used to load the med equip in a pov and go. But as far as an mva goes we now have our jaws right on our engine along with all our fire and ems equip is on one engine. We fill it with 6 firefighters and go thn we follow with our rescue and salvage truck. I dont know but it sure sounds like hes crying the blues for a lil mistake he made himself.
    Stay Safe and live long

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bones42
    I still have a hard time understanding how "paid on call" is volunteer. But that's just me.
    Almost all departments in this part of Canada are paid-on-call, but still classified as volunteer. I only know of a handful of very tiny ones that are truly "Volunteer" anymore.

    Aside from my officers honorarium, We only get paid when dispatched, and for special training, and the benefits are minimal (accident and death insurance coverage only).
    Never argue with an Idiot. They drag you down to their level, and then beat you with experience!

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    Quote Originally Posted by sfdtim11
    I dont know why he didnt radio ahead before loading the equipment in his truck.
    Perhaps that was intentional...
    Never argue with an Idiot. They drag you down to their level, and then beat you with experience!

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    First and foremost....why didnt the rescue truck start to begin with? Get an onboard charger or whatever it takes to fix it.

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