Is there favoritism/discrimination in your fire company or fire district?   Cronyism? Nepotism?

Political corruption? Misconduct & maladministration by fire commissioners?

Inadequate training?  By-laws violations?  Ethics violations?  Safety violations?


I regret to say that I have found all these and more in my own fire district.

Am I the only one?

I find it difficult to believe this is a unique situation.

Let me know.

Maybe together we can get some changes made that will benefit both the responders and the communities we serve.


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welcome to NY state firefighting 200 years of tradition unchanged by Cronyism, Nepotism, Political corruption. Misconduct & maladministration by fire commissioners,Inadequate training, By-laws violations,  Ethics violations, Safety left out tradition and suckieism...but some mange to still get the job done and show up at the FASNY & NY chiefs conventions.

you're also gonna find that outside NY state. my momma has a saying "its not what you know, its who you know"

I take you've found the same sort of thing.

While I understand your frustration, an open social networking forum is probably not the best thing to do. I would suggest you speak to others in your fire district that may feel the way you do and go from there.

Thanks, Olivia.

I've already done that. There's no question about the situation in THIS fire district. Now I'm trying to find out how wide-spread it is.  Can the existing system be fixed? Or does the entire thing need to be overhauled?



You actually answered your own question within your question. Yes it can be fixed by an overhaul if the situattion is as bad as it is sounding.  Unfortunatly when changing proceedures in any dept in any way from paperwork to SOP to work ethic to Command changes some people are going to be vocal about not seeing how this new__________ is better. Its just a bigger hassle or it was a whitch hunt whatever the case may be. If you KNOW that things are wrong the way they are now, then you (in my opinion) are obligated to help put them right, just be ready for any posible backlash.

Thanks, Olivia.

Well, you're right: if you know something is wrong, you can't just walk away from it. At least, I know I can't.  :)

I've been fighting this for several years. (long story) And I may be able to get some changes made here -- but if the same thing is going on elsewhere, we need a bigger fix than that. That's why I'm asking other FF's to step up and speak out if they have the same problems. I think that may be the only way to implement a state-wide solution.

Changing some kinds of procedures, like SOP's, I can understand some reasonable arguments behind that resistance, and I respect them. The burden of proof is on the one who is advocating change to demonstrate the superiority of the proposed change. No problem there.

But there's NO reasonable argument for, and I have no respect for, dishonesty and misconduct by public officials (the fire commissioners). There's just no excuse whatsoever for that. It a betrayal of the public trust, a betrayal of the volunteers, and a downright disgrace.


Thanks again for your thoughts on it.



This has been a fascinating topic for me..


The heritage of the fire service is FAMILY. Are these all common problems in family businesses?


Does everything come with a positive and a negative?


Does the structure of volunteering impact the progress or are the same issues still heavy on the paid departments as well?


Has anyone been doing research on what does work in family businesses and in volunteering organizations - especially those requiring a high degree of commitment and skill ???  Are there ways to adapt some of those and use them in changing / improving the fire service?

Perkins and Benoit did a good little book called "The Future of Volunteer Fire and Rescue Services: Taming the Dragons of Change." Addresses some of these things. But, like most works on the subject, it assumes that, foundationally, everybody involved wants to do the "right thing."

I no longer believe this is true.


I've often heard the fire service referred to as a "family."  I believe that model to be inappropriate for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that it casts the Fire Chief in the Father role, and the rank and file firefighters as the "children."  Doesn't work for me at all. Father doesn't always "know best."

I think a better model is that of an elite sport team. Our job is to "win games." That's what the fans pay for.  (whether WE are getting paid or not). Our coach is the coach only because he/she knows how to win games, and when he starts losing, he's out of there.  Each team member is valuable only to the extent that he/she can help win games. EVERYTHING else is secondary. Earning a place on the team requires work and is measured by results. It's a meritocracy.

I think that's the focus on "winning" we need. Our mission should come first, second and third

People are counting on us a whole lot more than they're counting on their favorite ball club.

Just my opinion.



I think there are many many definitions of what is "doing the right thing"


I will find that book and read it.


I was using FAMILY as the "history of biology" in the fire service - but I see its other use as well... and I think there is some strength in the coaching perspective as well.


I can see the term family as reflective of the system in that:

  • in families the father does not always know best... he just thinks he does...
  • the children grow up... and good parents teach their children how to be strong leaders to raise the next generation...
  • good parents know when to step back and permit their children to succeed - if you never give them the space to learn to walk, they will always crawl - support and encouragement will not only push them to walk but to run and jump
  • a healthy family gets stronger as generations develop - and they accept influence from each other
  • and as the younger generations grow stronger they take more pride and concern in caring for the prior generations
  • everyone volunteers their services in the a family - no one is paid to get along, improve or win
  • the commitment of everyone towards the strength and success of the whole is extremely important - the greater the commitment towards solidarity and teamwork the more the family commonly wins / accomplishes
  • rand the sum of the whole is greater than the individual parts


I REALLY like the sports mindset. I think you are on to something and you are right it seems like a better fit than family. I am wishing you the best with all of this.

Thanks for your post.

Yes. I like your examples of healthy families with good parents.

But what about dysfunctional families? Suppose the father is a violent drunk. What if the mother is a manipulative neurotic?  What if the children have to be focused on day-to-day survival, avoiding arbitrary punishment and escaping the oppressive environment as soon as they can?

Your point about commitment to the success of the whole is a good one. But I measure success by the quality of the service we provide to the community. Solidarity and teamwork, absolutely. As long as "solidarity" doesn't come to mean covering for the fire company no matter what, lying to the public, and keeping quiet about problems. That is to say, the organization itself must not become more important than the mission for which it was created. 


For the record, here's my definition of "doing the right thing:"

1. Tell the truth

2. Keep your word

3. Take responsibility for your actions


I don't think I care to accept any version of "doing the right thing," that includes lying, cheating or scape-goating.

Am I expecting too much to ask that fire commissioners conduct themselves with some integrity?


Thanks for your thoughts.



Thank you, Olivia.  You might be interested in the book "The Combat Position: Achieving Firefighter Readiness" by Chris Brennan. As a life-long martial arts student and teacher, I immediately saw many parallels between FIRE fighting and fighting, in general. Brennan's book goes off in that direction and has, in my opinion, a lot of good stuff in it.


I appreciate your well-wishes. Very kind of you.


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