Hey Brother thanks for the welcome , how close are you to Shreveport , my sister and family live there. I am trying to find out how th join the Irish association of firefighters , or the Emerald Society , if you have any clue on how to join these I would appreciate so info
You and the chief discussed taking the rescue unit to all rescue calls, regardless of its seriousness. That in itself is a good idea, but obviously, it had not been communicated to the entire department. I firmly believe that responding in POVs is wrong, wrong, wrong. It sets up the potential for too many bad things to happen. Go to the station; bring a rig.
So, on Point #1, you and the chief had this private pow-wow on taking the rescue rig, didn’t communicate it and someone got upset because, in his mind, policy hadn’t changed. That put him on the defensive. I don’t agree with it; but that is human nature.
You told him that the chief wanted his people in full turn out gear for insurance reasons. You should have said “for safety reasons”. There is a reason that reflective stripes are on turnout gear. Again; a policy was changed and he wasn’t notified. Poor communication. And unless your firefighters are carrying their gear in their POVs, then it will hang at the station, unused, if they are allowed to respond in their POVs. Still a bad idea.
He cancelled the rescue rig and felt you violated his direct order by showing up with it anyway. He was not aware of the policy change, so he got upset when you rolled up with it after he had called it off. Who is the officer in charge at your incidents? The highest ranking officer or the most senior person? What is your chain of command? Because having established that would eliminate confrontations between peers.
How can you not turn on the emergency lights correctly? It’s a friggin’ switch. He was really nit-picking if there is a set procedure in his mind for turning on E-lights. However; apparently this has been covered in training and you were doing it wrong? Just asking. At this point, I have to believe that this dude felt that he was in charge and when you were invoking the “chief”, he felt that you were “threatening” in some way.
Instead of allowing him to leave the scene in an agitated state, you should have asked him to return to the station so that you and him could “debrief” on the incident. This is when all of the hostilities are put on the table and discussed and hopefully, resolved. Is this a person that you have had problems with in the past? If not, this should have been easily fixed.
When the dude called and interrupted the chief’s good time, now you had TWO pissed off people. I hope that you don’t have a chief who picks and chooses when he is ON and when he is OFF duty. I was a chief for 14 years and trust me; it is 24/7/365 when there are issues to resolve. That is; when something comes up, you deal with it then and there. Of course, this is squeezed in between your real job and the fire department, but I managed with success in doing just that. When the chief allowed him to write his report, it put you at a distinct disadvantage, because now the chief will make his decisions based on only one side of the story. And since this dude has been on longer than you, guess who’s version the chief is going to take? That doesn’t make it right, but again, human nature says that the longer you know someone, the more trust develops. Unless the chief had this guy pegged as a pathological liar, he was going to believe him, even without your version of the events.
How can anyone be on a fire department and not know who the officers are? Is this kind of information kept a secret or on a need to know basis? How is it that he is an LT. and no one knows or at least you? Chain of command should be very clear to everyone. Who the officers are is kind of central to the idea that officers help run a fire department.
Regardless of what your disciplinary process is, EVERYONE has a right to due process. You have a right to know what you are being charged with, why you are being charged and what the level of discipline for that charge is. This act by your chief raises a lot of questions and red flags in my mind. Plus, if you were written up, you have a right to an appeal. Your rights have been violated, even if you don’t have a written disciplinary procedure for your department. These are FEDERAL rights. You have a right to request that it be removed from your records; then you have the right to inspect your records; you know, just to make sure that something that wasn’t suppose to be in there was still in there.
Who’s fired the next time? Your partner or the LT? That wasn’t real clear to me. But again, the chief cannot resolve this incident by being a tough guy. It has to be analyzed and proper corrective actions put into place, because if he doesn’t, it will definitely come up again. He cannot run away like his ass is on fire. He is the chief. He needs to act like one.
I think that the chief is trying to sort this out in his head and if he sees you, it will only muddy it more. Ask to speak with him in private. I don’t know that I would do it at the station. You will more and likely be interrupted there. Do it over coffee. If you have only worked with him and your partner, then you should have already established a relationship with him. I think he just needs to think this through. I don’t see you getting fired, unless the other dude is saying something like “it’s either him or me”. Don’t take it too personally. Keep asking to respond. He can’t fault you for that. But whatever he says, accept it and move on.
This entire episode stems from very poor communication. In this case, the lack of communication created a situation where one firefighter felt embarrassed by a less senior person.
And that rests with the chief. Maybe instead of arguing at the scene, you should have said something like “hey; let’s get done here and go back and discuss it.” If this dude was not interested in doing that, then you have won your case by default. Anyone who doesn’t want to sit down and resolve a problem isn’t interested in FIXING a problem; only, adding to it.
Stroke this LT a little. By that, I mean; approach HIM. Don’t wait for him. If the chief is going to be chickenshit and not broker a meeting between you and the LT, then YOU have to take the initiative. Do it in a respectful manner. Keep plenty of room between you. Do not raise your voice. Tell him that he makes good points and state your side, even if you have to read from notes.
But, the bigger problem will be improving communications within your department, because as you have discovered first hand, it SUCKS.
Let me know how it goes.
I have copied and pasted your remarks to a Word document so that I can read it again and reply to your every concern. I will reply tomorrow. Please bear with me. Keep your head up. I don't think it is as bad as it appears.