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    Default takeover of firehouse

    Looking for some feedback about a problem we are currently facing. The senior citizens in my community have used the firehouse for the past several years to hold there annual garage sale. The current Chief raised some safety concerns he has regarding them walking threw the parking lot while members are responding to emergencies. It was discussed at the meeting and the membership voted to end all public use of the building.The other group that used the firehouse graciously accepted the decision and made other arrangements. But it seems the seniors feel itís a public building and for them to use when they like. Our call volume has doubled in the past 2 years and the safety concerns are legitimate because our parking lot can barely accommodate us. In addition we would lose the use of our day room for 2 days. Any experiences or suggestions will be helpful

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    Quote Originally Posted by BHFF22 View Post
    Looking for some feedback about a problem we are currently facing. The senior citizens in my community have used the firehouse for the past several years to hold there annual garage sale. The current Chief raised some safety concerns he has regarding them walking threw the parking lot while members are responding to emergencies. It was discussed at the meeting and the membership voted to end all public use of the building.The other group that used the firehouse graciously accepted the decision and made other arrangements. But it seems the seniors feel itís a public building and for them to use when they like. Our call volume has doubled in the past 2 years and the safety concerns are legitimate because our parking lot can barely accommodate us. In addition we would lose the use of our day room for 2 days. Any experiences or suggestions will be helpful
    Questions?

    Have they used it for many years?
    Did you vote one day and shut it down to public use the next day? And not give any notice so they could have a chance to find another place.

    If they have had use of the building for many years (Happened here) they get to thinking that it is a public/community building to use. You have to break it to them easy and give them a chance to find another place to meet.

    T.J.

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    Well, the parking lot that my FD uses has 8 spots reserved for FD members only. The lines are painted yellow, and have the FD logo in the middle of them, and signs are posted to keep them open. So there is spots for our members.

    As for the lot, it's a public lot, and there's always people in there, especially in the summer when our call volume is greatest. We haven't had any problems *knocks on wood*.

    Now, is there another lot, or parking space near your firehouse? I know in the summer when we have our towns massive Seafood Festival, both FDs sell the parking spots in their respective lots. So the members can't park in there due to the lots being filled. We normally pull the trucks out of the bays, and let members park in there. Maybe your company could do something along these lines, as long as someone heads down there and pulls the trucks in when the lot empties enough.

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    Who owns the building? The Fire Co, or the local municipality?

    From your post, it sounds like your fire company owns it, but just looking for clarification. A lot of people may not realize that the building is "privately" owned (as is the case in my department...the Twp owns the apparatus and rents the space from us).

    If it's owned by your local government, then the Chief may not have much of a choice but to go through the proper channels to get the policy changed.

    Start with the "ownership" and go from there. And, as Rem said, common courtesy would be to give them plenty of notice...and maybe even suggestions of where they could hold their sale...would go a long way to soothing hurt feelings.

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    Do you have locks on the doors? can anyone come in and use the firehouse? it's a firehouse right? you keep fire trucks in there, right?

    I know it might sound harsh, but they have no right to use the station. they ask for permission. you have the right to say no. it's not their building. if they want a building, they should request the townships build them a senior center, whose sole purpose is to be used by the seniors.

    if they push the issue, and even if they threaten to go to the town council, suggest they use the police station instead. or the municipal building. or the public works garage. or the library. They have as much right to those buildlings as they do to the firehouse.

    you let them use your firehouse, because you are nice guys. now that the situation has changed, you have the right to refuse them use of the fire station for non-fire department business.
    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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    Quote Originally Posted by Nine3Probie View Post
    common courtesy would be to give them plenty of notice...and maybe even suggestions of where they could hold their sale...would go a long way to soothing hurt feelings.
    This is especially important when next year's budget comes around. The elderly make up most of our voter turnout.. karma's a bi**h. Not that it should change your decision.. but you may want to do it diplomatically.
    So you call this your free country
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    Regardless of the law regarding wether it is a public building or not, no-one has the right to block access to emergency equipment. Paint some stripes, and tell them to have a nice day.

    PKFPD
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    I have to agree with Nine3probie here. Legally, the answer probably depends on who owns the building and land. In our case, the building and land is owned by the fire department which is a private non-profit corporation. If this is the case, you can allow or not allow the use of the firehouse as you see fit, as long as you are not discriminating. If it's a state, county or municipal building, you may not have a choice.

    Best bet may be to work something out with the senior citizens. Specify where they may park and what portions of the building they may have access too. It may also be beneficial give them time to find another location.

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    Quote Originally Posted by pkfd7505 View Post
    Regardless of the law regarding wether it is a public building or not, no-one has the right to block access to emergency equipment. Paint some stripes, and tell them to have a nice day.
    PK, I don't think the problem is the blocking of the emergency vehicles. From the way I read it, it's the safety factor of "civilians" walking through the parking lot while the firefighters are pulling in for a call.

    I'm sure the chief has tried to tell them that it's not just the one group...that the entire building is now off limits to all civilian functions due to safety concerns.

    The only other option...as I see it...is to make the department a career department. Then you won't have the vollies pulling into the parking lot, blue lights flashing, and running over grandma!

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    A couple things...

    We discussed this in our community. But, we quickly found out that when the bond issue for the building was passed 13 years ago, the public was told that the building would be a new Fire Station/Community Building. Since that was it's stated purpose since inception, the city and rural boards wouldn't change. The community is currently working towards building a separate community building, but until it's completed community events can still be held at the station.

    Which brings me to my second point. Who is your governing body? My guess is that unless your membership owns the building, you don't have the authority to change policy on it's use.

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    safety concerns he has regarding them walking threw the parking lot while members are responding to emergencies.
    This sentence just jumps out at me. Are your guys that bad at driving that they can't safely maneuver their POV's while getting to the firehouse? Is there no other traffic they come across other than in that parking lot? I mean c'mon, one day of the year during this garage sale? Who's the biggest voting block in your town? Is it those same senior citizens? Is it their donations (and/or paid taxes) that keep your firehouse running?

    If your company owns the building and you have legitimate concerns, that is your choice. I'd just hope you can come up with better reasons than "my members may hit someone when they are responding to a call". That's pretty weak.

    For us, with our building, it was a simple call to our insurance company to see that we were fully covered in case there is an accident.
    "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 will say I agree that possibly running over someone respoding is a pretty weak excuse. If that's the sole reason, I'd go back and try again.

    If your chief insists on going through with this, and is legally able to, you might want to do a couple of things. We personally open our fire house up to a few different events every month. We have a line dancing class that comes in because we have a nice open concrete floored room right off of our kitchen. The Ladies Auxilliary and the local Boy Scouts hold rummage sales there to raise money. We've had fish auctions, and a whole manner of other things. You can't just one day shut that off and expect everyone to be happy. Maybe you guys could actually help find, and secure a new place for these people to go. Talk to the new building owners yourselves, explain why your hall won't work anymore for their purposes, and secure them a new place before you boot them out the door.

    Maybe even have a meeting with the concerned parties about his, where some FD representitives talk with them, and express your concerns. Maybe they would have some ideas that would make both sides happy, and no one would have to leave the building.

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    +1 for Galveston.
    At the end of the day, the same BS is probably a part of both departments, but not having to ride the box for an indefinate amount of time is a tiebreaker for most. I know 4 ppl who have left HFD within the first year due to either the shift schedule or not gettin to ride on the red trucks. There is enough info online about both depts schedules, policies, hiring procedures and pay to do a side by side comparison. Not totally bashing HFD, I have some friends with the dept that are great FFs, that dept is just not for me.

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    Legalities a side. This is a great PR opportunity and a chance to sell the FD to the community. Use this opp to showcase your equipment and show the mall the great stuff you do. For sure if you stop it you will get bad PR and it will hit you in the pocket book.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BHFF22 View Post
    But it seems the seniors feel itís a public building and for them to use when they like.
    Am I the only one that has a problem with this? whether the town owns the building or the corporation, it's still a firehouse.

    if I'm not mistaken, the City on New York owns all the FDNY firehouses. Does that mean I can hold a bake sale there next week?

    For all you guys who are in 100% paid firehouses, since the buildings are owned by the cities, I am going to have a group meeting there. after all, they are public buildings, and I can use them as I like, right?

    from a PR side, yes, you can be nice and help them find a new place. But you are under no legal obligation to do so. However, you can suggest they meet at the police station, municipal building, or library, as they are as equally public buildings as your fire station, and they have as much equal right do do what they want there as they do as your fire house
    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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    Quote Originally Posted by DrParasite View Post
    Am I the only one that has a problem with this? whether the town owns the building or the corporation, it's still a firehouse.

    if I'm not mistaken, the City on New York owns all the FDNY firehouses. Does that mean I can hold a bake sale there next week?

    For all you guys who are in 100% paid firehouses, since the buildings are owned by the cities, I am going to have a group meeting there. after all, they are public buildings, and I can use them as I like, right?

    from a PR side, yes, you can be nice and help them find a new place. But you are under no legal obligation to do so. However, you can suggest they meet at the police station, municipal building, or library, as they are as equally public buildings as your fire station, and they have as much equal right do do what they want there as they do as your fire house
    Unlike the FDNY, many fire departments in this country depend on fund raisers and public donations to keep going. Then again, comparing FDNY to anyone else is like apples and oranges. FDNY is very unique and a different animal all by itself.

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    let em use it and while they do, blare that rock n roll music.
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    We have had people demanding the right to use our weight room at HQ, because "they paid for it"...

    We have had people demand to let them hold their children's birthday party at HQ and give the kids rides in the fire engines, because it is a public building and "they pay our salaries"...

    No isn't a very hard word to say!
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    Their old, just wait awhile and they will be gone soon.

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    As our stations are owned by the municipality - true for most of us, I bet - we do allow limited access to our facilities, which a bunch of caveats. As others have already pointed out, just because a facility is publically funded does not mean it must be publically available. You cannot simply walk into the odd jailhouse, evidence room, 911 dispatch center, or fire station when you feel like it.

    Our policies deliniate what facilities are available, meaning which rooms at which stations, and at which times. The policy also requires fairly comprehensive reservation processes, financial liability on the user for wear/tear, cleanup, damage, etc, compensation to the FD employee required on the premises while in said use if not otherwise on duty. The bases are very covered. On top of all of that, the FD reserves the right in the policy to refuse or cancel reservations at at any time for any reason.

    So, if you want to have Timmy's birthday party at a fire station, no problem. Schedule it during the daytime when crews are already on and the classroom is not booked already, pay the $50 cleanup fee, don't stain the carpet, stay in the classroom-hallway-bathrooms area unless otherwise supervised, park in the visitor parking, no problem. And we do like making the kids happy (within reason), so you can bet Timmy and his friends will get to yank the airhorn chain somewhere in there.

    If your policy does not protect you and your interests, it is time to change it so it does.
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    Quote Originally Posted by malana1 View Post
    Their old, just wait awhile and they will be gone soon.
    I don't care who you are.....that's just not right!!!!!
    Just someone trying to help! (And by the way....Thanks for YOUR help!)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Nine3Probie View Post
    PK, I don't think the problem is the blocking of the emergency vehicles. From the way I read it, it's the safety factor of "civilians" walking through the parking lot while the firefighters are pulling in for a call.

    I'm sure the chief has tried to tell them that it's not just the one group...that the entire building is now off limits to all civilian functions due to safety concerns.

    Good point, but it would depend on the building setup, at our house 1, if you block the parking lot, you somewhat impede our access to the fire apparatus. Bones has a good point too, if they can't safely navigate a parking lot in their POV, do they really need to be driving fire trucks? As others have mentioned, this is a good chance for awesome PR. Instead of saying no, they could make it a FD/Community joint function. They could have some of the Fire Fighters show up for the event, and help coordinate parking and boundries, not to mention help the folks move some of the heavier items. Then when vote times comes, you got an ace in the hole.


    Quote Originally Posted by Nine3Probie View Post
    The only other option...as I see it...is to make the department a career department. Then you won't have the vollies pulling into the parking lot, blue lights flashing, and running over grandma!
    OH NO YOU DIDN'T!! That right there is what we like to call baiting.

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    There are so many good points here, and a lot of .. well... points.

    Something to remember, is the wide variety of departments across
    the country. Our department is the center of our community, and we
    adapt to pretty much any requests to use our facilities. A busy
    urban department will probably not be able to adapt as easily, and will usually have other options in the community for people to use.

    I welcome people who want to use our buildings - I want to show off my equipment and facilities. I want people to see we are a progressive forward thinking department, that is out there trying to do everything they can for the community. That is the only way we are going to continue to garner support in the community.

    I also have to agree with the thought that the driving issue is pretty lame - and if your drivers are that bad its time for remedial training.

    So many of these responses are aimed at saying no... Perhaps we should be looking at these questions with the intent to say YES?

    And Senior Citizens.... You have to be nice to them for a variety of reasons, including the fact they have lots of money, and you too will someday be one!

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    Quote Originally Posted by BHFF22 View Post
    The current Chief raised some safety concerns he has regarding them walking threw the parking lot while members are responding to emergencies.
    Are you really so busy -- run volume wise -- that emergency vehicle traffic is a safety risk? If you're out the door six or seven time during the day (when they're having their sale), I might buy that argument... But if you're talking about anything less, then you need to find a better excuse to boot the seniors out.

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    Quote:
    Originally Posted by BHFF22
    The current Chief raised some safety concerns he has regarding them walking threw the parking lot while members are responding to emergencies.
    Are you really so busy -- run volume wise -- that emergency vehicle traffic is a safety risk? If you're out the door six or seven time during the day (when they're having their sale), I might buy that argument... But if you're talking about anything less, then you need to find a better excuse to boot the seniors out.
    And if you guys are that busy, why not assign a duty crew to be at the station during those times? That way, no one's driving in and hurting any of the seniors. Plus, you'll have a crew out the door a minute after dispatch. Just a thought.

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