1. #1
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    Default Trouble on the scene

    I have a question that has probably plagued every department in the world. Regardless of your status, paid or volunteer, how do you deal with the "ego maniacs"? For example, a career F.F. who refuses to work with volunteers since he/she feels he/she is above these people. Or a volunteer working with career F.F. who feels intimidated by the way he/she is being treated. Or a volunteer working with a volunteer where one slams the other since they are not up to the others standards. I have 11 years experience in a Vol. fire organization and countless times I have witnessed these conflicts arise with some ending in physical/verbal altercations. Although, we have addressed most of these incidents we still have problems with the same individuals. I know that stress levels are elevated at cretian types of incidents and we all get short with others at times during these incidents. Whither this brings it out more or not I really cannot say, since every situation is diffrent. We have a good working relationships with our mutual aid companies and we train together. But we still have those individuals who will not listen to anything you have to say. I'am not trying to put the blame on anyone here but it always seems to be the career personel that we have the most trouble with. How do you feel about these "ego maniacs" volunteer or career and how do you deal with them when these individuals when all other methods fail?

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    Default Trouble?

    I know exactly what you are talking about. It's easier for paid departments to deal with these people because when they don't do what the chief says or follow the protocal it can (And often does) effect their next pay raise review.

    But when it's a volunteer dept. it's much harder because there's really no benifit for the individual to follow the SOP's (Or even SOG's).

    Our small volunteer department has had to handle that problem very diplomatically.
    During one debriefing (Following a call) we discussed as a group all the things that went right (As well as what went wrong). And we discussed as a group how this individuals actions hindered our progress (And how it reflected on our department). And we also diplomatically suggested a positive alternative (This part is sometimes hard to get across to hard-headed individuals).
    Since this group debriefing there has been some improvement (And some areas still need to be improved).

    The bottom line is with volunteer departments this should be a non-threatening enviroment. Most of all this has to be done by the majority of the department otherwise the individual may think it's just "Someones opinion".

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    Lightbulb Ugh....get a life...

    Firefighting and EMS should be about brotherhood and serving the community. I'm in the military, and there is a certain amount of animosity between branches and whatnot, but at the end of the day we all work together and get the job done. Chop-busting is fun, don't get me wrong, but to think you're better than someone else because you have a Union to cry to when you male $38.06 on a holiday instead of $38.18? GET A LIFE!

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    FF58411: The solution is simple yet really more work than most want to deal with. The parties involved in these altercations need to be given one warning that the behavior is unacceptable and spell out the consequences if it occurs again and then stick to it. The exception would be if there is physical violence IMMEDIATE suspensions and if necessary police intervention. It does not matter one bit if the firefighters involved are career or volunteer, strong policies in place will eliminate these issues.


    XRaysJL:

    Okay, by your answer I take that you are a volunteer firefighter (and no that isn't a rip on vollies. I wear both hats, career and volly).

    Pay raises cannot be arbitrarily withheld from individual firefighters because of the Union contract. But there are suspensions without pay and taking of vacation days and demotions, that can be used to discipline career firefighters.

    As for your comments on the volunteer fire department I agree that there are times where diplomacy is best. But to say that the type of problem the original poster describes should be handled by a majority rules type of thing is simply not a good idea. Have SOG's in place, have by-laws and rules of conduct in place and enforce them, all the way up to termination if necessary. There are volunteer fire departments all across the country that do this everyday and they don't tolerate this type of nonsense. I grow weary of people who say volunteers can't have hard and fast rules to follow because they are volunteers and we have to treat them nice or they will leave. If they are a problem and they simply do not comply with rules then they are NOT an asset to the department and having them quit isn't necessarily a bad thing. The chief and the officers are there to run the fire department, it is not a democracy, it is not majority rules, it is a paramilitary organization and it needs strong leadership. Strong leadership is not negative, is not destructive and it is good for an organization. Bad or weak leaders are bad for an organization and they are destructive, restrictive and usually stand in the way of organizational growth.

    Strong leadership can end these problems but they have to face them not sweep them under the carpet when they occur.

    FyredUp

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    But when it's a volunteer dept. it's much harder because there's really no benifit for the individual to follow the SOP's (Or even SOG's).
    The benefit for members of my volunteer fire department for following SOP's is that they get to stay a member.

    You don't follow the rules, you get shown the door...from the outside.

    I've said it once, I'll say it again....the last time they "volunteered" was when they "volunteered" to join and FOLLOW THE RULES. It's that simple. Don't follow the rules, don't be a "team" player, you will be gone from the department. We don't need anyone that badly.

    I'd rather a small department with good members than a large department full of malcontents. Any day of the week.
    "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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    Is my department the only one where this doesn't happen? All these political and personal problems that seem be a plague everywhere else... we've got nothing.
    Even the burger-flippers at McDonald's probably have some McWackers.

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    To all of you who have replied thanks for your input, every peice of information is helpful. As for our SOG's and By-laws, there is nothing set in stone that gives disiplinary action for infractions on the scene or at the station. The only option that we have to deal with these incidents beyond CSID's involving all agencies is mediation with a neutral party (usually a committee appointed by the president). Although, a recent incident has caused us to sit down and revise our SOG's and possibly a By-laws clause to give disiplinary action to the Chief and President.

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    It happens everywhere.
    A lot of it can be chalked up to maturity or lack thereof.

    Quote Originally Posted by nmfire View Post
    Is my department the only one where this doesn't happen? All these political and personal problems that seem be a plague everywhere else... we've got nothing.

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    Bones and Fyred have hit the nail on the head.

    Just because volunteers are involved doesn't mean that they don't have to follow SOGs or that they can't be disciplined. If the same individuals are causing the problem they must be dealt with. One or two trouble makers can zap the moral of both departments quickly.

    If the people causing problems are members of another department, whether paid or volunteer, your chief needs to discuss the issues with their chief. Above all, both sides need to behave in a professional manner. This has no place on the fireground.

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    The answer is clearly based in the leadership of the department. Sometimes being the boss is not a popular place among volunteer departments, but rest assured if you do not handle your trouble makers in house, someone else will. The trouble makers will either cause enough problems that the media controls you through bad reports or the police have to get involved. Either way all decisions you make have consequences, positive or negative. You must work as a leader to establish a culture that only accepts postitive consequences. That culture shift will lead to the membership taking care of thier own personality differences. You sometimes have to look at your members as younger siblings( you know that whole brotherhood thing) Family stands with thier brother and finds ways to support. Lead them with maturity and strength. Have an uncomprimising resolve for nothing but excllence! This means you have to set the bar and stay above it yourself. When your members catch up with you raise the bar. There is no room in the fire service for lazy leaders.

    As for the paid/vol. dilema. If your are a paid FF, think back to when you really wanted to join the dept., did you know all you needed to know? Did you have to rely on a senior FF to show the way? Maybe try being the "senior FF" to the volunteer sometimes. Use all your training to benefit the fire service. If you are a volunteer, let your performance on the fire ground do your talking. Train hard and show the way. I am a 20 year vol. myself. I never have problems working a fire scene with ANY firefighter. My knowledge and confidence speak for me.

    Never look down or speak bad about a firefighter you are not willing to help train. Because if you are willing to help him/her, you can not be negative, it is impossible. >>>Be safe and have fun!!

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