April 4, 2012

The Canadian Press - Charlie Lake, British Columbia, Canada

    All but two volnteer firefighters in the roughly 30-member department in Charlie Lake, have quit.

    Firefighters in the northesten part of the province handed in their pagers to protest the hiring of a new chief and the tansfer of department control to the Peace River Regional District from the local fire protection society.

    Trouble within the Charlie Lake department has smouldered for nearly two years, but flared when former Kimberley assistant fire chief Steve Munshaw took over April 1, to replace the long-time chief, who was not considered for the post.

    Firefighters in the commuunity eight kilometers north of Fort St. John say they don't know or trust their new chief, a paid full-time staff member, or the recently hired assistant fire chief, who also receives a salary.

    Officials with the regional district hope the dispute can be resolved but in the meantime, fire crews from Fort St. John or Taylor, about 25 kilometers further south, will respond to major incidents in Charlie Lake.

    The regional district is also launching a recruitment drive in hopes of attracting new volunteer to the fire department.

 

 

 

 

 

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Sounds like a case of "you get what you pay for" for the community in question.

What does that mean?  You get what you pay for?  Is that a rip on the vollies or a rip on the choice of outsiders to run the volly FD. 


New Chief AND transfer of control of the department?  Sounds like there may have been some 'issues' perhaps, maybe money, maybe something else, that was inappropriate or illegal.

Two years of 'smouldering' trouble?  Politics?  Investigations? Hanky panky?

Sour grapes because the old chief wasn't considered? 

Paid Chief and Assistant Chief; sounds like people's noses are out of joint because of who gets paid and who doesn't.

Based on the little bit of information given by the OP and historical issues of VFD's not liking their fiefdoms fecked with it's no surprise that the members quit.  After all, for many (most) VFDs, they are first and foremost Social Clubs.  Problems always arise when something like actually being a fire department gets in the way of the social club activities.  The only real surprise is that it's in Canada and not here in the states.

jack/dt: Based on the little bit of information given by the OP and historical issues of VFD's not liking their fiefdoms fecked with it's no surprise that the members quit.  After all, for many (most) VFDs, they are first and foremost Social Clubs.  Problems always arise when something like actually being a fire department gets in the way of the social club activities.  The only real surprise is that it's in Canada and not here in the states.

 

Back this up with some facts or it is just nonsense and hearsay on your part.

 

Most of the VFDs in my area have minimum training requirements that include at least FF1 and driver operator, some go to FF2, Officer, Instructor, and Inspector certs if you want to advance.  All that I am aware of meet monthly, 2 or more times to train.  Many I would put up against career firefighters as far as training and skill level.

 

Of course there are still a few social club fire departments, but their numbers grow smaller every year.  To say that the number is most is ridiculous and not supportable. 

Don,

When don't you go looking for an argument?

I said "many", 'most' was parenthetical, an optional idea. 

Great that your area is as well trained as you say (back this up with facts or it is just nonsense and hearsay on your part!)  It would appear that my opinion needs to be fact-supported whereas yours simply need to be stated to be true.  How convenient for you, inconvenient for all others.

Having read a LOT of comments and discussions in HERE, I think one only needs to look back over the years and read some of them.  Social club mentality appears to be strong and wide spread.

Interestingly, you chose only to disparage my comments yet added nothing to the discussion as to why this has happened (members quitting).  I postulated a couple of reasons why.

Finally you may choose not to believe it but again, having been a member here for a number of years the lasting impression I have of VFDs is one of social clubs that allow anyone to join, pick and choose what they will or won't do (interior ff vs. exterior ff. really?)  Discussions on family run departments,misuse, malfeasance and outright theft of funds.  And in discussion on the topic of alcohol in the firehouse it appears many STILL allow it and seem not to think it's wrong.  Training issue discussions constantly arise here, many proud they train once or twice a month,  many believing that they are no different than paid departments. More than a few that feel that there are already too many requirements put on them and any additional training, certification or qualification requirements (physicals, background checks) place a financial burden on the department and additional time burden on the member.

Look at a recent post on recruiting and retaining members: supply TV, video games, wireless access, awards, recognition (attaboys), twitter, facebook, websites, etc.  Basically striving to get new members into the club.  It would seem that firefighting is still secondary to just getting new members.

What about auxiliaries?  Why such an anachronistic organ in 2012?  It was always a "Ladies Auxiliary" because women couldn't be firefighters.  That's changed (somewhat) so why continue it?  Social club mentality.

I could be wrong about the reasons members quit their VFD but I would be surprised if some (or all) of the reasons I listed in my first response weren't at play.  At least I made some effort to comment on the discussion, you simply like to attack and challenge.

It isn't a rip on anyone, it is a statement of how things are.

Agencies that depend completely or mostly on career firefighters have more leeway in choosing their department leadership, organization/re-organization types and methods, and in the demands they place on the members.

 

Agencies that depend exclusively on volunteers have to keep them happy to keep them around, since their other incentive choices are limited.

 

In this case, the agency has chosen a path that involves neither career opportunities nor happiness for the members, so the members voted with their feet.  As stated, the agency got exactly what they paid for.  That's true in financial terms and it's true in human resources terms in this instance.

 

Sorry, Don I know you're looking for a fight, but you're not going to get one from me about this.

 

BTW, I've spent my entire adult life as a firefighter and EMT/Paramedic, all of it volunteering and a few years less than that at career agencies in case you're trying to split that particular hair.

Jack,

 

While there may be exceptions to the social club thing, a lot of them still fit that mold.

 

There's nothing wrong with that aspect, as long as they also take care of training, a solid business organization, adequate equipment, good SOGs, a reasonable standard of cover and response times to meet it, individual professional qualifications standards for all positions, good water supply, appropriate strategy and tactics, and  a good safety program.

 

After taking care of all of that - yeah, have some fun.

The issue seems to be that some vollies recognize that they have an unpaid job, and some don't.

jack/dt:

 

Don,

When don't you go looking for an argument?

I said "many", 'most' was parenthetical, an optional idea.

Your implication was clear.  You believe MOST volunteer FDs simply don't measure up. 

Great that your area is as well trained as you say (back this up with facts or it is just nonsense and hearsay on your part!)  It would appear that my opinion needs to be fact-supported whereas yours simply need to be stated to be true.  How convenient for you, inconvenient for all others.

 Um, I CAN back it up.  I am a training officer of 2 Paid on Call FDs, AND I am an instructor for the local tech college.  We have 85 FDs in our district and there are only a handful I have either not been in or not had FFs as students from.  Are there some that are lacking?  Of course, but there are also career FDs out there that continuously seem to be their own worst enemies when it comes to tactics, techniques, and technology.

Having read a LOT of comments and discussions in HERE, I think one only needs to look back over the years and read some of them.  Social club mentality appears to be strong and wide spread.

Amongst some of the people that post here. 

Interestingly, you chose only to disparage my comments yet added nothing to the discussion as to why this has happened (members quitting).  I postulated a couple of reasons why.

Not being there, and not really getting a feel for the situation I could only add conjecture.  But since you want my opinion here goes.  1)  Sour grapes that they lost local control of an organization that from the article had been suffering internal turmoil.  2)  Sour grapes that their chief wasn't even considered.  3)  Sour grapes that PAID personnel from the outside are now running the FD.  

Finally you may choose not to believe it but again, having been a member here for a number of years the lasting impression I have of VFDs is one of social clubs that allow anyone to join, pick and choose what they will or won't do (interior ff vs. exterior ff. really?)  Discussions on family run departments,misuse, malfeasance and outright theft of funds.  And in discussion on the topic of alcohol in the firehouse it appears many STILL allow it and seem not to think it's wrong.  Training issue discussions constantly arise here, many proud they train once or twice a month,  many believing that they are no different than paid departments. More than a few that feel that there are already too many requirements put on them and any additional training, certification or qualification requirements (physicals, background checks) place a financial burden on the department and additional time burden on the member.

Both Paid on Call FDs that I am a member of require a background check done by local police to check for both criminal and traffic records. 

One FD does an annual traffic record review.  All applications go to the village board and the approval of the police, fire chief and the village board is required before they are taken as a member.  Each new member is on 6 months probabtion.  This department requires FF1 within 1 year of membership and requires Driver/Operator to be an MPO.

This is not uncommon in MY area.  Their are social aspects of these departments.  But neither of my FDs allow booze in the station and more and more are following that same path. 

My personal opinion on training standards is simple and clear.  If you want to be a firefighter then meet our standards or we simply don't need you.  We can't afford having incompletely trained peronnel on the emergency scene.  I would rather run with fewer members that are highly trained and skilled than more members whose qualifications are they can breath.

Look at a recent post on recruiting and retaining members: supply TV, video games, wireless access, awards, recognition (attaboys), twitter, facebook, websites, etc.  Basically striving to get new members into the club.  It would seem that firefighting is still secondary to just getting new members.

Nope, you are loooking at that ALL WRONG.  We are looking at buying an XBox or something similar and a big screen tv, not to get people to join, but to get them to hang out at the FD to help us get rigs out the door faster.  The local ems services have wireless access, and tv, so that the on duty crews sitting in quarters they have something to do after station duties are done.  It is far better to have crews in quarters than responding from home.

So, let me ask you this...Are you opposed to Tv, video games, and internet access in career houses?  Because my career FD has all of those in the stations.  As for awards and recognition (attaboys) ever hear of the FDNY Medal Day Ceremony, Boston Fire Department Medal Day, and the many other career FDs that have annual events to hand out awards for bravery, rescues, and more.  Maybe that is only an issue in volunteer FDs...

What about auxiliaries?  Why such an anachronistic organ in 2012?  It was always a "Ladies Auxiliary" because women couldn't be firefighters.  That's changed (somewhat) so why continue it?  Social club mentality.

Auxiliaries in my area have 2 purposes.  1) Assist in fundraising.  2)  Assist in rehab by supplying food and water, gatorade, coffee, or hot chocolate at extended incidents.  You see jack, in the rural we generally don't have buff run or FD run canteen units.  The auxiliary IS the canteen unit.

I could be wrong about the reasons members quit their VFD but I would be surprised if some (or all) of the reasons I listed in my first response weren't at play.  At least I made some effort to comment on the discussion, you simply like to attack and challenge.

You see my countering your baseless posts as attacks.  You like so many people think that you can speak for the entire nation about the volunteer fire service.  I speak about MY area, where I am VERY knowledgeable. 

I have spent my entire adult life as a Paid on Call firefighter, about 2/3 of that time as a career firefighter, and about 7/8 of that time as a fire service instructor.  I have been a Paid on Call FF with 3 different FDs, a part-time relief officer at another, a CFR FF for the WiANG, and a have been a municipal FF.  So I have been around this business and seen for myself how departments work.

Not looking for a fight.  Just tired of the same old bull shit broad stroke brush being used to paint all volly/Paid on Call FDs as less than professional in their actions.

Don, WTH?

 

"Just tired of the same old bull shit broad stroke brush being used to paint all volly/Paid on Call FDs as less than professional in their actions."

 

I did no such thing.  You just assumed that I did. 

 

My comments were specific about the community and department in question.  They pay their new chief and assistant chief...and that's about all they appear to be getting.

 

You are reading waaaaaaaaayyyy more into my response than anything I actually said.

You are partially right about my post.  I mixed yours and jack/dt's post together.  So I apologize for hitting you as hard as I did.

Thanks, brother.

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