To make a long story short I am considering leaving the fire service. Its not under my free will, I love the job and still get that feeling from helping people. However, lately one of our members has been making it hard for me to do my duties at Lt.
On Sunday morning aroung 3:30am we had a house fire. Upon arival to the station I hoped out and there were 2 guys out front getting their gear on. One of them was running his mouth. He was yelling that we were taking to long to get there and get ready. He went on to yell that he was glad it wasn't his house and that we are a joke. I asked him to quiet down two times and he continued to yell. At this point I am tring to hear the size up from a unit that just went on location and I am ready to call our engine in service (I was driving). In order to get some quiet I yelled at the man to shut his f&$king mouth so we could hear the radio and each other. (I knew it was wrong but it worked, he was quiet at this point and I got the needed info). The next day he went to the police chief and fire chief and made a complant on it. (I knew he would). Today I was given 30 days out and striped of Lt.
This guy and I have had a few run-ins before. He likes to say that its a race issue. (he pulls this every time he has a problem). I would like to say this, I am not a raceist person...I can prove this due to my job. I am a shop Foreman. I have people of ALL colors working for me and we all get along just fine. There has never been a problem like this with anyone else.
All this said, He has been gunning for me for the two years he has been around this station. I get no backing from the rest of the dept because they all want to stay clear of the guy. They are afraid of him. What are your thoughts on this? I'm lost here. thanks -Matt

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the chief ordered the 30 days and removal of Lt. He is on this guys side due to legal issues based on race. I hate to put it in that manner but that how this small town works. Thanks
If your chief will not back you. You might want to take to the board of directors if in a volunteer dept. Or go to the city council. But you should not quit because of one knot head who is looking to try to get your spot. Or you could talk to him with a third person there to keep things from getting out of hand like your fire captain.
first, get firecom, for the truck, 2nd, don't lower yourself to his standers, 3rd start a list of every little thing he does, 4th, read your sop/sog's, 5th fight fires!
Grab a 2 x 4 and knock him the f@ck out next time. At least then you'd be justified getting 30 days. Seriously you were justified telling him to shut his f@ucking mouth. I've had it said to me, and I've said it to people too, no big deal, it's part of the job, your just trying to get acurate information. If they can't handle it, F@uck 'em.
Can you grieve this decision (are you represented)? 30 does not sound like discipline that suits your actions. I would think a counter complaint is also in order. The way I see it, you have two choices, lay down and let some asshole with an axe to grind hand you your job, or fight for your position. You can do this without causing additional issues. State your case and keep your chin up. Is this his job/name or yours?
I've dealt with this before myself as a Lt. and as a Capt.. Your course of action should of been to tell this individual to not bother getting on the truck and that he can stay back,and to deal with it after the call, as for arguing, never bring yourself down to that level, the posisti0n of fire officer is hard enough to do without becoming the enemy. Also most every department has a Code of Conduct or Ethics, in this it states what is required of individuals to belong to the organization. In there is a section usually stating something about " conduct unbecoming of a member", these rules are there to use as officers to place members on suspension if needed. And your other members hopefully should be supportive of you as an officer. Maybe 30 days will be good for you to sit back and watch this individual and see if he affects others in the same manner. But dont quit, it sounds like you do it for all the right reasons, don't let this individual win!!!
Uff da! At 74 years old one would expect he would know better. He should have been driving the rig. Or was he yelling at you because you were?? :o)
I hate scanner commando types. sometimes you step back and think "why in the heck is this guy here, or rather who is he here for?" . Guys like that get under my skin, and it makes me pissed. I say you should stay in the dept. definitely, because it is people like you who make the department a proactive organization, and are those firefighters who care for the people they are helping, yet do not care if they are not front page material.

Trust me, the knucklehead will screw up big time soon enough. Imagine if they give him stripes, do you think he will be an effective officer? Doubtful, and maybe thats why he hadn't earned them to this point.

Keep your head up, and in the meantime enjoy the anonymity of being "just a firefighter". Do your job, be good at it, care about the people you care for and don't give the time of day to those who don't, and I think it'll ease a lot of the burden off your mind
Matt, Keep your chin up, talk to the chief sticking only to the facts that can be documented (nothing personal) and express your concerns. This is absolutely a case where the facts need to take precedence over any perceived racism. Facts are facts and this person needs to be called on his actions not his skin color. If this guy is called on his actions and if the race card is played, he simply needs to be asked to document this purported racism and see how far he can get with it. Not far from the sounds! It appears this is what you are trying to do w/o much admin. support. Your chief needs to grow a spine and deal w/ this issue before it gets worse. In my experience these situations do not get better by themselves. The other part of this is that this very well may grow into a more serious safety issue if not dealt w/ ASAP! You should'nt leave just because this other guy is still there but you also need to make sure you and others are safe. Your safety has to be your 1st concern and if this guy stands in the way of that and it is not dealt with then you need to reevaluate your participation in that FD. Remain professional and the results will follow. Good luck and stand tall!
I won't debate who is right and who is wrong in this situation, which like all situations, I'm sure it has more than one side to it.

However, perhaps these words will help guide you as you ponder your decision to stay or go.

It's from my blog at: www.tigerschmittendorf.com.

Don’t ever let anything, or anyone – prevent you from being the firefighter you want to be.

Be honest. Be proud. Be relentless.

Show respect. Show integrity. Show enthusiasm.

Smile. Have fun. Motivate yourself.

Take responsibility. Take ownership. Take control.

It starts now.


–Tiger Schmittendorf
November 22, 2002
Matthew,

No disrespect to you but you are looking for help so I am offering my opinion. I believe you are not a person who is racist. Given the fact of multiple examples and you have had situational concerns with the same individual for over two years, "you definately have history"

First off, not hearing the full version of the incident, it is difficult to determine the entire story but I believe I can fill in the blanks from the post. First you are in a combination department, a volunteer Lieutenant. Not sure if this guy is a firefighter - your subordinate, you called them "guys". So I am writing this reply as if they are both firefighters.

Whether paid, call or volunteer, many in the fire service do not understand the complexity of functioning as an officer. The status whether appointed or voted upon, holds each and everyone of us to certain standards. In your case, the race card was deployed so we have discrimination laws to be concerned with. Most likely "BS" as you put it but it was mishandled at many levels.

First off, a professional officer or supervisor should never loose his or her composure to the point in which we rebut a subordinate's comment with negativity or profanity. This can be extremely difficult to do, but we are the leadership and must maintain our composure and level-headedness even in stressful conditions.

As others have stated, racing to dress out or driving recklessly is dangerous. So next time this occurs, remind the person we will be responding when I "the officer" say we are ready, please be quiet as I am trying to hear the arrival report on the fire." By saying F-U, he has been disrespected in front of others and if his personality is so, he will definately use what he knows will work, in your case the race card.

Upon returning to the fire station post call, you should have written the firefighter up with written documentation to the fire chief for "insubordination" due to the fact that he refused to be quiet when asked him to multiple times and also, "disrespecting an officer" for saying you were too slow, your taking too long, or glad this isn't my house burning, during your response and turnout time. When you stated, you figured he would complain about the incident, you basically knew and allowed it to happen because you didn't act as an officer should have. Now like I said before, no disrespect to you, but without the initial formal compalint from you the officer, to include witnesses, the fire chief has only the complaint from the guy crying foul.

Many on FFN feel this guy has what is coming to him and he will eventually screw up... don't hold your breath FFN believers. Without fire officers who are truly trained on how to be a complete officer, be a leader and handle interpersonal dynamic problems within the organization, then the poor guy is actually working blindly. It is not all about who is a great firefighter or a "get it done guy" who makes a good fireground leader, most problems that arise in an officer's career occur within the station and not at an emergency. Now I know you said you are a foreman at your job and have never had problems before. So you are probably a standup guy, a good person, with good intentions but have never had to deal with a difficult employee, and unfortunately your fire department has not prepared you to handle this situation, heck your chief sounds as if he may have no clue how to handle the situation, and your department definately has at least one problem child.

When you arrive in the office with documentation, the next day it would be clear that the firefighter was using his race card to cover up the underlying issues, lack of respect towards an officer and the safety of others. When the fire chief quivers, your next step would be the personnel HR department, fire ward, commisioners, board of trustees, etc. But when you arrive to defend yourself, at least it is not he said she said...

Here are some tips to make sure you are better prepared next time, (hopefully) you can regain the rank after serving the time off. But DO NOT QUIT!

Cool Down - Effective discipline will not result if tempers / emotions are in charge of the communications.

Get the Facts - In your case, document the facts and submit your complaint to the fire chief.

Be on the Offensive and Not Defensive - Chief's should have the details long before the problem comes knocking.

Always Be Respectful - No matter how hard it is, people are judging you on how you handle your personal actions. You must give respect to gain respect, now it may not be from this problem child but from your peers.

Do it privately - Do not work on the problem in front of other firefighters.

Attack the Offense - NOT THE OFFENDER. Stick to the disrespect and safety issue from the incident not the guy personally. This will reduce the race card issue.

Don't get Emotionally Involved - personal problems should not become fire chief's problems. Find the root of the problem and stick to the root and not personalities. Don't let personal issues ignore behavioral problems.

Avoid throwing rank around - Bullying never works. Use the root cause and justify the situation with a policy, rule and or safety connection.

Explain why and seek agreement (if possible)

TCSS
FETC

www.fetcservices.com
dont quit.. wait out the 30 days and see what happens...they need to get rid of the other guy... u dont have to quit all together....maybe just find another station

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