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EGH-PFB

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How about the necessity of leading by example, beign a volunteer fire officer, and finding it harder and harder to make time for work, family, and the training requirements of your department. What was once a fire company running 160 calls a year and training on Thursday nights and maybe, MAYBE, the occassional Sunday morning has become a fire company that runs 400+ calls a year, with multiple training nights during the week becoming more the norm than the exception. Add to the call volume and training demands the behind the scenes administrative tasks that all company officers are given, and you have a recipe for burnout. I'm almost there myself at times, what about other officers out there? There was a time when all I wanted to do was run fires and soak up training, now, family is kind of where my head is at. The easy answer is don't run for lieutenant next year, but that's not as easy as it sounds. Anyone else out there with anything similar? Solutions?
How about having a Training Officer who does NOT train?? I am Lieutenant in a small career department and our Training Officer refuses to do any fire suppression training. No lectures,no skills training. That is left to individual company officer to do on shift. The kicker to that is that the officers are NOT allowed to go to any schools to maintain or improve their skills. It creates a manpower issue(may cause OT,not allowed).
My TO has stated his purpose is to facilitate training, not perform it. By the way, he is a Deputy Chief.
I cannot go to our State Fire Academy to take courses,20 miles away and courses are $25, but I can go across the country for Haz Mat training(reimbursed by DHS funds). Our dept training consists of whatever instructor he can get to come in and teach whatever course, as long as it is free. We have had so much Haz Mat training since he took over, but no fire training.
I am a State Fire Instructor and Municipal Fire Instructor. I teach the local volunteer fire depts and also am an Instructor for the Recruit Firefighter Training course at the State Fire Academy. I teach about 400 hrs annually. I was told by my TO that it is too hard to teach your own personnel. I do the majority of my shift training along with my Captain without any major issues.
This officer even changed, with the Fire Chief's approval, our apparatus policy to state(in writing) that seatblts are optional and left to the discretion of the individual firefighter,not the officer.
Needless to say, we have isues between us. It probably will cost me any chance at promotion, but I cannot agree with a lot of what he says or does. No one has ANY respect for him and he is the most hated individual in the dept. He resists any attempt at change and was a incompetent line officer. I am praying for the day he leaves so that we can get someone competent into that position who can do the job. He has gone as far as attempting to train us to use master streams to "knock down" fires from the exterior of occupied multiple residences before any interior operations!!! Luckily that plan was stopped immediately. But you get an idea of what I have to deal with on a daily basis.
Timothy,
WOW! You are surely in a tough spot with your TO and I don't envy you, BUT.... I will tell you what I tell every firefighter and officer that is unhappy with the level or quality of training in their department or company. Don't spend to much time worrying about stuff that you have no control over. If you can't fire the training officer, move on . And when I say move on I mean do it yourself. Run your own training events or drills with the other firefighters on your shift. Sit at the kitchen table and look at some of the great articles and photos in Fire Engineering magazine and talk about what is going on in the photo and how you might handle a similar situation. Go out on the apparatus floor and run through some SCBA emergency skills. Practice the reduced profile and full escape procedures and never look back. You are your best hope of getting good training and staying safe on the fireground.
Chris,
The situation you describe is a growing problem that is not going away. Being an officer in a volunteer department is not easy, particularly if you are giving it a serious effort. What you need to do, and I can say this after reading your statement that said in part "family is kind of where my head is at", is that you need to prioritize. That means giving your duties at the fire dept. your best effort with the time and energy you have left after taking care of your first family. Another point for us all to remember is that you must work and play "Slow and Steady". If your efforts and results at the volunteer firehouse are not up to the standards of the folks there, they will let you know, believe me. I predict you will do just fine. There are only so many hours in a day and days in a week.
Thanks for the reply, Chief. I am lucky on my shift to have a strong D/C and a strong Capt. They both heartily encourage shift training and as a standard, we perform our own shift training.The Capt is almost OCD in his training style (you don't know how to do it unless he"s seen you do it correctly) and my D/C Has a devious mind when it comes to training. He loves to come up with off the wall training subjects (extricating a firefighter in full PPE from narrow jump seat after simulated MVC).
I am a State Fire Instructor, NYS Fire Academy RFFT instructor and use all of my resources in my shift training. We do everything we can to do our training without letting the TO know what is going on. He has a tendency to take our ideas and try to make them his own.
We do our shift training on Saturdays when th TO is off duty. Our training consists of ladder placements,pump ops, Survival/FAST training or if the weather is bad, we use a laptop and projector to practice strategy and tactics of buildings within our district. I like to use the Simulator 6 program from ESIS to place smoke and fire onto the pics for more realistic scenarios.
We use your idea of fire magazine cover pics already. We will look for everything that looks right and any possible errors to learn from. I just helped teach the FF Survival course you helped design at the current NYS Fire Academy RFFT class and am going to train on some of the skills on the job on my next weekend tour. I KNOW my shift is well trained. Our active training record has created some hard feeling from the other shifts(we only have to do this training because B shift started it) but that only makes us do it more. Stay safe and thanks for your support.
Chris,
Yes this situation is absolutely growing. I think mostly on the Volunteer side. Career guys have the demands placed upon them and they abide, because they would no longer be career if they didn't.
Being from a small rural Department with 19 Fire Fighters, all Volunteer, covering 55 square miles of area. Training is the biggest issue we have, and that is just trying to get them to do enough to become compliant, let alone advance on thier own. Resources are available and plentiful. But most of these guys are old school. The qoute of each and every discussion is we shouldn't have to do this stuff we are volunteers.
Here is a couple of examples: in 1999 Indiana provided each Department in the state with a NFIRS program for free and announced that in 2000 Paper Fire reports would no longer be accepted at the Fire Marshal's office only online. December 2003 ( I had went inactive for aa couple of years and was just starting to get back into it) I got a call from the Chief, He asked me if I could go to this meeting because he couldn't and no one else would. When I got there it was about the NFIRS reporting system. When I signed in the Deputy Fire Marshal asked me why they had not recieved a report since 1998.In the end,by January my Wife ( who is also a Fire Fighter/ Fire Medic), spent many long nights getting everything activated, back dated and current. In January 2004 I was voted in as Chief. That's when it got interesting. The Department went into active status in June 1981 in that entire time 2 people had achived the Indiana Mandatory entry level training required before a Fire Fighter could even go on a run. No haz-mat no CPR no Monthly Training as outlined by OHSA. Mandatory is complete, although it took a year. 3/4 of them just took haz-mat last year. 1/2 of them have CPR, but inthe lenght of time that has passed we now need Fire Fighter I/II and can not even talk about scheduling the class without an argument.
Then there is OHSA, seems to be the majority would rather keep going non-compliant rather than put a little effort into moving in that direction, in fact just talking about getting rid of one plastic gas can started a huge outburst.
I understand the frustration, with three teenagers,into all sorts of activities and sports, I understand the family part. I constantly worry about the accountability placed upon me if something should go wrong, that will not be pleasant considering where we currently stand
I have considered not accepting the nomination for re-election, but if I don't do what I can no-one else will even attempt it. The current Assistant Chiefs are worthless on the administrative side. Two individuals I picked for the Assistants who know where what needs done where not voted in, because those opposed to change knew the three of us would accomplish those items and did not want that kind of change to be posssible.
I'm kinda torn as to what to do, In 1980 when this Department was still in the planning stages, My Great-Gandpa donated money. My Grandpa was a Founding Father, both of those men have passed, my Dad is a Founding Father and still an Active Fire Fighter. If I bow out I know how down into the gutter this Department will go, being the one who could prevent that I feel it would mean they worked for nothing. Yet it is not right to jepordize my family, the way things are right now, should a Fire Fighter get killed I could be one of those Chief's going to jail or being sued for neglegence. But that is not important to the forces that be, we have not yet had a Fire Fighter injured so it has not been an experience, that seems to be the only way to convince them to change, After the fact, to prove that they are not right.
Yep I understand frustation!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Chris,
I don't have the years or the experience that Chief Salka has, but I spent 15 yrs as a volunteer in a department that sounds just like yours before getting hired in a neighboring small city. I held all ranks up to Chief and l don't need to tell you it was tough trying to balance everything, i.e. family, firehouse politics, administrative fun, training, jobs, and just down time for you, and oh, yeah calls. There is no easy answer, it is an important juggling act, trying to balance everything and not burnout!!! I do have to agree with Chief Salka that slow and steady will keep you balanced. Keep family first, (their your safety net), your job, THEN the fire department! You can only do so much in a day. Take care and stay safe
Hey Tim,
Rough stuff. It sounds like you are doing what you can and that's good. As far as worrying about who gets the credit for your ideas, that must be frustrating as hell but in the grand scheme of things does the credit really matter as long as the troops are getting the training? The "hard feelings" from the other shifts may disappear once your training "inspirations" make them look like champs, or better yet saves a life! We have the same attitude among some of our troops here; it may be a universal firefighter thing. Who knows? As I like to say, "anyone who sticks their neck out is inviting the axe." Fortunately, there are officers like you who do care about the job and the folks they work with and are willing to take that risk. I believe Chief Salka once said, "If you want to be liked, get a dog." Not very comforting, but true and very funny! You may want to try using LODD reports and sell it to the less enthusiastic guys by putting them in the shoes of the brother or sister who perished. Best of luck with fighting the good fight!
Hey Guys,

I guess we all feel the pain of being dedicated firefighters/officers and with the changing times how it effects us from all standpoints. My problems come from the lack of participation of three out of five companies and leaving the load on just two. We are worn so thin it becomes depression. Myself and one other captain, two chiefs and 10 firefighters are the only thing keeping the department together and like chris said on top of 300+ run increase, EMS calls,Training, meetings Dept. & Co.,job, family, politics and it becomes a receipt for disaster. The funny part is my company is made up of non drinkers! Maybe that's a good thing! I retreat to my company and train and we go fishing, to Hocky Games, hit dunkin donuts after that midnight run with the truck as a crew and vent about all the Bulls#$% that goes on and let the top fall off the Dept. And when I feel ready I try to put the top back on and start the cycle over again. There is nothing worse than a member P****** and moaning at a meetings and he has not made a run in months, one eng. has not seen the light of day in a month and a half and the officers attitude is, if the Chief does nothing, I do nothing and when you try to hold them accountable it becomes a war. Thanks for your time, I feel better already ! And by the way, we don't do the cop stop at Dunkin Donuts, we just drink coffie and juice!

STAFE SAFE !! Dennis
AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Just starting my Career as a Volunteer Fire officer who is no seasoned veteran of the fire service, but I make it a point to come away from every situation learning at least one thing. I also make it a point to attend Academy Courses on Firematic/Rescue/EMS and officer development.
But when officers are put in place because of popularity or it’s his turn to be ….., over knowledge and experience, I want to scream. Un-Qualified Officers in positions eventually to become Chiefs of the department (still not qualified) it’s DANGEROUS and embarrassing.
-Officers that took NO more training than pump operations.
-Officers that incorrectly apply equipment to the task (Basic stuff).
- We have officers that get stipend for their position who run less than 10% of the calls and training.
-Or the best one, “Well we’ve bin doin it that way for years.”
I can go on. Its Triple D’s too many members in my company: Disheartening, Discouraging, and Disgraceful.
We have set standards in my company that require everyone in a position from Firefighter to Company Officer to have specific level of continuous education. However, these standards are shunned upon by our department, with comments like I’m only a volunteer or I don’t have time for that, there are others but out of respect for you I wont mention them. No matter what anyone says, we are all the same Professional and Volunteer, whether anyone likes it or not. We all run into situations that everyone else is running out of. So we should be held to the same standards.
Thank you for making this site, Thank you for listening, and I apologize if I may have offended anyone.
DON’T be the next one, BE safe!
Richard
The Price you Pay for doing your job according to policy ?

A letter I just sent to my Chief, It seams no one will listen if you do your job, they only try to make your @#%&^ life miserable! A list of my sufferage!!!

I write this letter to you still shocked and dismayed at the conduct that had taken place at the BFO meeting thursday. It seams the president of the board believes it is twenty years ago with his belief that we should be conducting business in back rooms and allowing a situation of that magnitude to occur when he new prior to the meeting what was going to take place. As this being the same type of incident that occurred with (name witheld) when being charged at and threatened and then forced into a position of defense to protect ones self it brings to mind, is it really worth being a firefighter in this community! There is no defense for us as a company anymore or as firefighters because we do what is right and continue to suffer as individuals from threats of bodily harm, taking our equipment away so we cannot perform our functions as we have trained to protect the community, charges of racism with no facts and cleared by law enforcement investigation potentially destroying ones livelihood, disrespecting officers anytime they do their job based upon our policies and by-laws, requested to attend a meeting under false pretenses with a BFO quorum present with the president in attendance, the attempt to take away the write to wear a class a uniform for 911 services, threatened to be thrown out of the building you respond from because of a specific group of people who do not want you there. The list is a long list, too long, as far as I am concerned, because as volunteers and tax payers no one should have to live or deal with these situations, and not to be able to defend ourselves is even harder. Nothing will become of this because we as a company are a minority in the belief that it is easier to follow the policies of the department and State then to complain about them. And when we enforce policies we suffer the rath of others with stories being twisted to protect those in the majority. We have seen it countless times. Many nights I lose sleep wondering if it is time to leave the department and I hold on only because everyone deserves to go home at the end of the day/call to their families! As an officer, that is my responsibility based upon the policies established by the Fire Department and Borough of . That is also the belief of ( my company), passed on from its elders. But for the most part, the majority members of this department could care less if you follow policy and who is affected by their actions or inactions. If we continue to allow these infractions to occure, and a firefighter gets hurt or killed, the only ones who suffer will be their family, the public and the taxpayers, not to forget the Officers and Chiefs who are civily liable. Such a large price to pay in this day and age, for services rendered FREE !!

Respectfully,
I have just been suspended again due to an event outcome from inforcing a o tolarance policy on alcohol. Add that to the list !
Ok

We have this firefighter at the station well actually a whole family but it is now down to just him who believes that the fire company itself belongs to him and that nothing will run right when they are not around. Well for the past several months he has not been running but now he has seemed to start coming around. Myself and him have had words on several occasions becasue anything I do or say is not the way he wants to do it so it is wrong. He has become a chief officer several times and everytime he has quit. The most recent thing that just hot under my skin was a fire we jsut had the other day he was one of 6 in my crew the driver statyed with the truck as we were first due. I put him with a newer member and I went around to the rear of the home to get my other two crew members setup and to check on them. (defensive fire) I was walking around doing a 360 several times and check on my crew and when I came around to where he was supposed to be with he had just wondered off. I asked the person who he was with if he knew where he was and she repiled she had no idea. Well this left her on a 2 1/2 line by herself forcing me to have to assist her and not be able to know where he was for almost and hour. Till I managed to see our company chief who informed me that he was back at the truck. For the next serveral hours while we were there he spent much of his time with a past capt. Also upon arrival I told one person to get off the truck as we were laying a supply line well when i turned around there were two people off of the truck. When I asked the second person why they got off after I already assigned that the other member he said that the member I am speaking of told him to. I promptly told him in a nicer way but to keep things short If I don't tell you to get off the truck then don't I am the officer and he is just a firefighter. All I can tell you is this guy stood in the station face to face with me and told me that a class that we were going to require people to take could teach him because he has 20 years in the fire service. I understand I am a new officer and I am making mistakes and I am always up for other peoples Ideas but in the way of his eyes he does not respect me nor does he feel that I should be telling him what to do.

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