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  1. #1
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    Post Help with a new chief

    Our department is experiencing tremendous growth. We recently hired our first full time chef and six full time firefighters to compliment our 20-30 part time and 20 volunteer firefighters. The newly hired chief was a volunteer member for many years, besides working for a city department as a training officer. That was almost 2 years ago. Our area keeps growing; the demand for service keeps growing. Our problem is the chief seems to be spinning his wheels and refuses help. He hired a really nice man to be the deputy chief but very little experience running a fire department. The Assistant Chief was an aggressive well trained full time captain from a neighboring department. He was well liked and had the pulse of the department but just resigned. The moral is the lowest I have ever seen.
    Most of the time when a department hires full time firefighters, the big problem is a war between the vols and the paid, and we DO NOT have that problem!! Everybody gets along great. Our problem is the chief will not listen to anyone. Simple things like a new printer for the stations took over a year to get. Our new trucks are an embarrassment, poorly designed for our operation. When the chief was questioned, he becomes very defensive and states the door opens both ways. The full time firefighters are ready to quit and go somewhere else. The volunteers have diminished to almost nothing. It seems the glue holding our department together is the part time firefighters. Most who work at two of the larger departments in the state.
    The fire chief answers to a fire board of commissioners who seem very happy because our fire rating has not dropped. But they know very little about the department other than what they are told at their meetings once a month. The last 2 who approached the fire board have been run off by the chief.
    What can we do? I hate to see our department fall apart. We have so much potential; the public just approved 10 mils of taxes with almost 87%!!! It just seems like we are spiraling out of control. Any help would be greatly appreciated.


  2. #2
    MembersZone Subscriber jack61sgfd's Avatar
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    Jan 2003
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    Baton Rouge,La.
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    where is your department?
    Shut the nozzle stupid, thats' smoke not fire!

  3. #3
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    If the Chief answers only to non-firefighter commissioners..then you're pretty much screwed until something tragic happens that draws their attn to his lack of organization and people skills. If your VFD is governed by a board of directors which can delete his paid position, then that may be a direction to effect influence over his decisions. Is it possible to have a general election or referendum of your volunteer members to appeal to the commissioners to put the guy on some kind of probation or under a panel of professional FF's to oversee his decions? If those options arent available then the only thing that is going to help is going to be a public show of mass lack of support for the guy. That's always tricky especially since your chief seems to have an ego problem, but what's the alternative?

  4. #4
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    What can you do? Honestly, why are you asking us? We are powerless to assist your cause.

    You already figured out the first part, talk to the person(s) with hire/fire power. Why did you give up so fast after that?

    Chief runs you off? Does the Chief follow all of the commissioners everywhere? Send letters. Document everything, no empty accusations. Make your case for change, and focus on the financial aspect (bad trucks is poorly spent money, low morale and resulting turnover and loss of volunteers is expensive, inefficient operations are expensive).

    C'mon my friend, you can figure this out.

    And in all seriousness, good luck.
    You only have to be stupid once to be dead permanently
    IACOJ Power Company Liason
    When trouble arises and things look bad, there is always one individual who perceives a solution
    and is willing to take command. Very often, that individual is crazy. - Dave Barry.

  5. #5
    Forum Member Station2Capt's Avatar
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    Feb 2004
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    Longview, Tx
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    joechuuee

    You really do not give enough information regarding your problems for us to give you much advise. All you really mention is that a majority of the firefighters are upset but do not give very many specific reasons on why. You mentioned that it took almost a year to get a new printer for the station. I have to ask why did you need a new printer, was the old one broke or was someone just wanting a newer printer when the old one was still useful. Was there budget money for an item such as this? I know that printers are not that expensive but your Chief has a budget that he must follow and often it is the little purchases that add up and drain a budget quick.

    You mentioned that most of the paid firefighters or thinking about moving on to other departments. What is the main reason for this. Is it pay, working conditions, what. Very often department such as what you describe are stepping stones for firefighters to get a few years experience and then move on to larger departments. If this is the case then there is not much you can do to keep them from leaving no matter how good of a department you have.

    You also do not mention how much you or someone really sits down and talks with the Chief. And I don't mean to sit down and bring up how you think the department should be ran. Sit down with him and talk about the department, his thoughts on the future of the department. There are many, many aspects to running a department that "line Firefighters" never see or know about. The more you learn about the inner working of your department the more you may understand why the Chief makes the decisions he does.

    The 2 firefighters you said were run off by the Chief after going to the Board, why did they leave? Did they get upset because something did not go their way? What was the issue they felt they could not approach the D.C. or the Chief himself and discuss. Often when firefighters go straight to the Board and Council without sitting down with the Department administration things often do not get settled where everyone is happy.

    The main advise I can offer is get to know why the Chief does the things he does. You may actually find out that there is a very valid reason for his the way the wants things done. When everyone knows the goals of the department and understands that these goal may not be reached overnight then you are on the path toward having a good working relationship with your departments administrators. The key is communications.

    Good luck in the future, I hope everything starts to turn around for you and your fellow brothers.
    A "Good" fire is not measured by how big it is, but by the fact that everyone is going home safe, and that we possibly learned something new about firefighting. Member:IACOJ

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