I recently had a new city council member come to me and demand to see my fire reports and my meeting roster forms. This council man told me that he is going to see who has not been to a fire or a fire meeting in three months and kick them off the department. He said it will not matter if they missed because of work or family issues. As chief I consider both of these to be an excused absence. This council member informed me that the city is paying too much in workers comp coverage and retirement and pension and he is going to eliminate this problem. I tried to explain that because of where we are everyone works in a different area. I had to schedule our meetings to get 8 to 9 of our 12 volunteers to be at the meetings. I also tried to explain that they do not pay retirement and pension on all of the guys. I have three volunteers that do not get retirement and pension. Two are too old and one is a full time firefighter for a paid department.
We are just a small volunteer department that protect a town of 500 people. We are not paid or compensated in any way. All of my guys are there when i need them when they can be.
But my number one rule here is family comes first. In my area we dont get allot of applicants for the fire department probably one or two every two years, so I value what I have.
My guys also see the way the council treats me so this further discourages them from putting out allot of effort.
I dont know what I can argue to try and convince these people to leave my people alone.
As far as i know there are not any complaints against us or any bad raps.
Just like everybody else we spend allot of time trying to keep equipment running.
I am just not sure how to protect what i have.

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How about going to every council meeting and having your say in Department reports....Maybe not every councilor has the "I am the axe" mentality....or maybe invite the ass to join the Department and see first hand what is entailed in being a Firefighter....the time demands placed on members and falilies....might open some eyes.....Stay safe Brother......Paul
I'm with Paul - hand an application to this hero and invite him to join. It might also be useful to diplomatically review the facts of life with this person and stress these words: volunteer; small town; life safety; understaffed.

I am compelled, though, to ask these questions:
Is this a small town surrounded by or adjacent to a larger urban area?
Is this person a former member who had been thrown out or otherwise left the department in a huff?
Is there any other information that may be relevant, i.e. you stole his girl friend 20 years ago and he's trying to get even?

Just looking for some additional background information...
Last I knew a single councilor or selectman can't fire anyone. Politics, ahhh got to love it. You need to talk to the town or city manager and yes, lobby the other councilors to understand your hardship.

I like the application part, make him to walk in your members shoes and then he will probably see that a volunteer makes many sacrafices to be a committed member protecting their community, none the which he can understand unless he truly volunteers.

Does he realize the savings on reducing 3 members is pennies?
I'm not sure how cities run, but with our fire commissioners, they are NOT operations. They approve and oversee the budget. Its not their job nor their place to be involved in in the daily running of the department. Hiring and firing are nowhere near anything they should be concerned with. This new guy who wants to make a name for himself needs to be sat down and made to understand that its not his job, and certainly not his place, to be concerned with things like this. Idiot politicians need to shut the hell up and sit down. I think he's been watching too many hours of idiot congressmen in D.C trying to do the same thing to the military. Go make yourself look cool by either a) putting on some bunker gear and earning your place, or b) go bug the PUD guys, I'm sure they could use some help from an experienced horse manure handler
I feel your pain brother!! We have a hard time with our small town council members as well -- not all, just one or two that seem to have a grudge against the fire department and want to find any nit-picking thing they can to make our lives miserable. If you can figure out a way to get a leash put on your guy to tame him down, please let me know! Stay safe, and keep your head up.
Start going to council meetings and request information on things like ordinances, bills, water department reports such as hydrant flushing. Question this person's committee reports. They like questions.
Also, so it doesn't appear as though you are singling this one council person out, offer department applications to ALL of the council members. Then, maybe, they might leave you alone. If not, then better prepare yourself and don't go defensive. Go aggressive offense. Eventually, the mope will find another hobby.
If he stays on your ass, then charge him for the ride.
TCSS.
Art
you've obviously been around the block a couple of times... very insightful questions.
Denton, I would forget inviting this guy onto the department. Don't ever think someone's going to change just because your inviting him into your world. He doesn't appreciate it now and he won't have a clue if he's a part of your department. it's probably a more of the same kind of thing if you had to work with this guy, and you've pretty much had it with his throwing his weight around for some unknown reason...

Does this guy work somewhere?
Own a business?
Coming up for re-election?

What's your relationship with the other council members?
When are they up for re-election?

You need to play politics against politics. It would be seriously worth your while to take a very close look at this clown. Sure sounds like a long range plan where you strongly campaign against him next time around.

Finally, considering that you work for a volunteer fire department, what would happen if the councilman's actions were so egregious that the membership was swayed away from continuing their involvement as volunteer firefighters.

From what I've read on many of the FFN posts, volunteer departments are suffering a lot of hits from many sides. Does this guy want to see your department go away? The last thing we need is to reduce the numbers of trained firefighters for our communities. Sure sounds like there is a hidden agenda to me.

A frank discussion with the Mayor, City Manager and Police Chief as well as your legal folks need to identify this guy as a rogue that could have some monetary impact on your community. Insurance rates for one may be impacted if there weren't folks available and trained for emergency responses. Is this what the new council member wants? Is he supported by all the other council members?

Use the media to your advantage and brainstorm your plan. There are plenty of examples out there for you to boilerplate your strategy. For example, the Spokane Firefighters had to deal with some problems akin to yours... just a thought...


You have a problem that can go away, you just have to do your homework, be patient and come up with a plan. Business owners and local residents want a fire department. If your department is involved with your community, then this battle should be a lot easier. It's time for some good ol' fashion public relations to deal with this problem... and please remember, this guy was voted in and can certainly be voted out...

CB
Thank you for the help. I actually go to all of the city meetings. Not like it helps any and yes all three council members seem to have this same frame of mind right now.
I did actually tell this person that if he wanted to get rid of one of my guys that HE WOULD have to take their place. You know what his first words to me were? No I cant I am to old to get retirement and pension. I told him that does not mean krap i have three guys that dont recieve retirement. His next excuse was he is just to old.
i again told him that i have had older.
Thanks again for the info.
That is all that i knew to do si to try to arm myself with the facts and hope for the best.
Be careful and hope you and your family have a safe and happy forth.

Denton W. Ervin
Fire Chief
Mountain Park Volunteer fire department
Oklahoma
Tell his ass to get on the department, and see how many meetings he gets to. Screw them who cares, your the chief, he probaly have some damn excuse, i had to have lunch with my damn therapist or some shit like that. I agree with ya brotha, they need to back off of you a little, and let you run your dept
Thanks for the help,
If you red my response to paul that will answer some of your questions.
No this guy is late 60s i thinkI dont know for sure.
Me i am just 32.
My community is about 500 people in southwest oklahoma we are close to another small department that protects 2,000 or 2,500 i think. Volunteers also.
i dont think this guy has any ideal about what volunteers do or go threw.
Anything else just ask.
Like i told Paul I am trying to gather all of the artillery that I can and keep my cool and argue intelligently.
I just hope that it works.
Thanks again
Stay safe
Denton W. Ervin
MTPVFD
Thanks for the help.
When this person first dropped this bomb on me i spent about an hour arguing these facts and many more.
It was like talking to a fence post.
I told him if we loose to many firefighters that we would go up on our fire rating and everyone would see a increase on their insurance.
His words It would not increase at all.
I am going to push the statement that whoever they get rid of they will take their place.
I can already hear their excuses.

I appreciate the advice and help.
All of you guys are helping me and i appreciate it allot.
Thanks again,
Denton W. Ervin
MTPVFD

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