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  1. #1
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    Default Washington State--Firefighters Quit

    Prosser firefighters' departure speeded up

    By Ross Courtney Yakima Herald-Republic

    PROSSER - So much for two weeks' notice.

    About half of the Prosser Fire District's volunteer firefighters have already turned in their pagers, turnouts and gear. The district spent Thursday fighting small, natural cover fires without them.

    At a Monday fire commissioners' meeting, a group of volunteers publicly gave two weeks' notice of their resignation because of conflicts with Chief Doug Merritt and the six-member board. Their last day would have been July 2, two days before the Fourth of July holiday.

    However, Merritt sent nine of those volunteers letters Wednesday telling them they were, in essence, fired and asking them to turn in their gear by the end of the week.

    "Your services as a volunteer with the District are no longer needed or desired," the letter said.

    Those nine volunteers, plus a few more, turned in their gear at a Wednesday evening training session.

    Merritt said he sent the letters to make a clean break for the volunteers planning to stay.

    "The volunteers that are here, ... they need to be able to focus on their job," Merritt said. "They don't need divisiveness and distraction."

    Longtime volunteer Tim Stewart said it will hurt the department. The experienced volunteers who quit could have used the two weeks to help train new recruits and respond to calls.

    "Who knows what's going to happen in these next two weeks," said Stewart, president of the Prosser Firefighters Association. Stewart received one of the nine letters Wednesday and resigned with the rest.

    Merritt says the city "will be covered" for the Fourth of July with at least 10 volunteers, two paid captains and himself. The city typically staffs the community's fireworks display at Art Fiker Stadium with about six firefighters, Merritt said.

    There are nine new recruits who will be ready to fight fires in four to six weeks, he said.

    The animosity goes back about 10 months to when the Prosser Fire District, for which the city of Prosser and Benton County share oversight, asked for the resignation of popular Deputy Chief Richard Clizbe. District officials would not say why because of a settlement agreement.

    Since then, volunteers have passed a vote of no-confidence in Merritt and the board, accused the chief of financial impropriety and criticized a state audit that did not yield any fraud findings.


  2. #2
    MembersZone Subscriber MalahatTwo7's Avatar
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    Been there... and I didnt want the t-shirt that goes with it. Without having further background on what happened prior to the firing/walkouts, I can only say that I hope this issue can be resolved quickly for the sake of the residents who live in the Prosser Fire District. Tough times are just up ahead.

    Good luck.
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  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by MalahatTwo7 View Post
    Been there... and I didnt want the t-shirt that goes with it. Without having further background on what happened prior to the firing/walkouts, I can only say that I hope this issue can be resolved quickly for the sake of the residents who live in the Prosser Fire District. Tough times are just up ahead.

    Good luck.
    You've got to love the politics and BS that go on in a small volunteer organization. We went through this a couple of times. Only in our case it was the chief and his little band of cronies on the hot seat. Seems the chief didn't get along with half the members, and wouldn't cooperate with the board. The chief is gone along with his side kick the asst. chief. Things have gotten much better since then. Being chief isn't jsut about running the scene. 90% of the job takes place off of the fire ground.

  4. #4
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    Seems like we hear of one of these every other week or so. Guess the borhters have to look out for #1 first, and it is not our place to second-guess or judge their decisions.

    That being said....
    There are nine new recruits who will be ready to fight fires in four to six weeks, he said.
    ...is about the dumbest thing I have heard since I once heard a Chief justify an across-the-board 25% staffing cutback for a city with major freight rail corridors and switchyards, industrial waterfront, and two refineries, by pointing out that "fire calls are declining".

    Brilliant leadership at work here.
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    I'll never understand the we have less fires, so we obviously need less firefighters thing. Having less fires per year, does not decrease the workload at the fires you have. Whether we get one structure fire, or 100, we still need at least three engines and a truck, 1 squad, and a chief on the first assignment.

  6. #6
    Remember the Charleston 9 JTLow3's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jerry4184 View Post
    I'll never understand the we have less fires, so we obviously need less firefighters thing. Having less fires per year, does not decrease the workload at the fires you have. Whether we get one structure fire, or 100, we still need at least three engines and a truck, 1 squad, and a chief on the first assignment.
    Agreed Jerry. They also fail to note that even if fires are declining other incidents are picking up.
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    MembersZone Subscriber dday05's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RalphSafety View Post

    There are nine new recruits who will be ready to fight fires in four to six weeks, he said.
    .
    It's all well and good to have new people come in, but that doesn't make up for the experienced ff they just lost on the fireground.

  8. #8
    55 Years & Still Rolling hwoods's Avatar
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    Thumbs down Stupid, Stupid, Stupid..............

    I'm sure someone will blast me over this, But Boards, Commissions, Districts, or whatever should NOT be involved personnel problems like this. EVERY POSITION, Rookie to Chief, should have Solid Requirements for that position. Anyone wanting to fill the position should have to meet those requirements, as a minimum. For purposes of Illustration, Lets set the requirements for Chief:

    Five years experience in a similar or larger department.
    Two Years Experience as a Captain or higher.
    National Pro Board Fire Officer IV Certificate.
    National Pro Board Fire Instructor II Certificate.
    EMT-B.
    Valid Drivers Licence.

    OK, there are four members of the Department that meet the requirements for the Chief's job. Selecting the Chief from those four should be done by the Department Membership. The Membership's choice should be the end of the matter. Outside influences SHOULD NOT be permitted to interfere with the Departments business. Period.
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  9. #9
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    Community comes first
    Last edited by crankshaft; 10-10-2007 at 08:19 AM.

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