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  1. #1
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    Default Firehouse Dilemma

    So I work for a small volly department in rural Minnesota. Our department consists of only 30 members. Within recent years we've had a very large dilemma at our department that has really brought out people's true colors. My Chief's wife joined the department 8 years ago. At first it wasn't so bad. She had to put up with our ball-busting on each other, and some maybe not so nice language that we all hear around the firehouse. But recently it's gotten bad...

    My Chief insisted that we hire her to take over the Administrators position (a position that was never needed a year ago) paying her nearly $1,000 a month to keep up the books and so on. She has no college education. She is not the best firefighter for the job, BY FAR. There was no one considered outside of our department with a background in fire administration. And the worst part is, I truly feel there are times when she is working on other things than fire department duties while at the station... and getting paid for it!!!

    Now, we are starting to get our asses chewed out by the Chief on a regular basis for things that "he" doesn't like, even though we all know who REALLY doesn't like it... his wife!!! It has really caused a true split in our department. Guys have tried talking to my Chief about it, but he insists that she is doing a good job and that we need someone there... even though we only run 150-200 calls a year, and we're paying her $12,000 a year to do our administration duties!!!

    If things do not change for the better, there will be no doubt a mutiny and my Chief will get overthrown at the next election by the members.

    Does anyone have any suggestions on what can be done to help our department get past this ordeal without causing a huge fight and uproar?

    Thanks and be safe,
    Mr. Smoke Eater


  2. #2
    Forum Member DeputyChiefGonzo's Avatar
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    Take a look at your FD's charter, rules, regulations and by laws, specifically for conflict of interest.
    ‎"The education of a firefighter and the continued education of a firefighter is what makes "real" firefighters. Continuous skill development is the core of progressive firefighting. We learn by doing and doing it again and again, both on the training ground and the fireground."
    Lt. Ray McCormack, FDNY

  3. #3
    Forum Member axemanst3's Avatar
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    tough situation smoke.... you are probably right, if he won't man up and realize that $12,000.00 is to much money to pay anyone to do admin stuff in a dept. that small.... no doubt he won't be chief much longer

    Gonzo is right... check the legal side of things also.... so you and the other guys don't get screwed in the end
    JOHN 15:13

    ISAIAH 43:2



    1st Asst. Chief Ray Johns

    FF/NREMT-B

    Marion Volunteer Fire Department

  4. #4
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    Depending on how you are set up you may be covered by state ethics laws and regulations. I would certainly check into what laws must be followed. After all, this could be considered a civil service position.

  5. #5
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    Is your Chief a paid position? If so, who has hire/fire power over him? Is he elected? If so, who elected the Chief?

    Do your bylaws even permit the Chief to unilaterally "hire" anyone? Most everywhere I have seen, the decision to bring on even volunteer members is a committee decision. Is your Chief permitted to spend money (such as to this salaried position) without any oversight or approval process?

    The Chief answers to someone, either the membership who voted him in or the local government above the FD who appointed him. If there are ethical or operational problems with this arrangement, whoever put the Chief in his position should address them.

    If your Chief has so much power that this can happen and the membership has no corrective recourse, then buckle up and ride it out. And be ready to make changes when the opportunity presents itself, so this cannot happen again.
    You only have to be stupid once to be dead permanently
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    and is willing to take command. Very often, that individual is crazy. - Dave Barry.

  6. #6
    MembersZone Subscriber KevinFFVFD's Avatar
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    I would imagine that being the small rural department as you describe then I can only assume that your departmentís ďdecision makingĒ falls under a department member voting system. If this is the case, then the department HAS THE POWER to do whatever they want.

    Being you are volunteer, then you and the rest of the 30 men who do not agree with paying this woman $12,000 a year has the power to stand before the chief and say that you do not want to pay her to do this. If the chief gets enough pressure from the firefighters as a group then he will have no choice but to not hire her.

    Another question, is your chief paid? Is your department fully volunteer? Does ANYONE draw a paycheck? If not then he cannot justify paying someone to do a job that apparently you are already doing without paying someone.

    Sounds to me like a conflict of interest. The department as a whole has the ability to do whatever they want. And who regulates the Chief? Does he not have a supervisor? If so, go to them with the problem.

  7. #7
    Forum Member CaptOldTimer's Avatar
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    Wink

    It is called NEPOTISM! Fire the Chief or vote him out, then vote his wife out!!


    Stay Safe and Well Out There....

    Always remembering 9-11-2001 and 343+ Brothers

  8. #8
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    our department is just about that size. we go through a board of directors. not sure how your department is but i would talk to the board.

  9. #9
    Forum Member BKDRAFT's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MrSmokeEater View Post
    So I work for a small volly department in rural Minnesota. Our department consists of only 30 members. Within recent years we've had a very large dilemma at our department that has really brought out people's true colors. My Chief's wife joined the department 8 years ago. At first it wasn't so bad. She had to put up with our ball-busting on each other, and some maybe not so nice language that we all hear around the firehouse. But recently it's gotten bad...

    My Chief insisted that we hire her to take over the Administrators position (a position that was never needed a year ago) paying her nearly $1,000 a month to keep up the books and so on. She has no college education. She is not the best firefighter for the job, BY FAR. There was no one considered outside of our department with a background in fire administration. And the worst part is, I truly feel there are times when she is working on other things than fire department duties while at the station... and getting paid for it!!!

    Now, we are starting to get our asses chewed out by the Chief on a regular basis for things that "he" doesn't like, even though we all know who REALLY doesn't like it... his wife!!! It has really caused a true split in our department. Guys have tried talking to my Chief about it, but he insists that she is doing a good job and that we need someone there... even though we only run 150-200 calls a year, and we're paying her $12,000 a year to do our administration duties!!!

    If things do not change for the better, there will be no doubt a mutiny and my Chief will get overthrown at the next election by the members.

    Does anyone have any suggestions on what can be done to help our department get past this ordeal without causing a huge fight and uproar?

    Thanks and be safe,
    Mr. Smoke Eater
    Conflict of interest for sure. Not accepting other outside applications is suspicious as well. If your guys are that unhappy with the Chief take a vote of no confidence to the city council.

    However, don't think your going to get a candidate with a background in fire administration or with a college degree for that matter getting only $12,000 a year.

  10. #10
    MembersZone Subscriber TruckSkipper's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MrSmokeEater View Post
    If things do not change for the better, there will be no doubt a mutiny and my Chief will get overthrown at the next election by the members.

    If it can happen to the Mayor, Council Person, Freeholder, Congressman, Senator, or even the President every four years why not your Chief?
    DKK
    Truck Man
    APFD
    IAFF Local 384:


    "Above all, an assignment to a truck company should be considered a promotion."

    Chief John W. Mittendorf-1998

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