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signal30

The Fire Company and the Department

26 posts in this topic

I understand the dynamics of municipal departments and how they generally run when they are career staffed.

Could any of you provide insight as to how it works within your organizations in regards to the dynamics of the Fire Company and the Department itself? I'm mainly curious about a municipal volunteer department and how it works with the fire company, although insight on fire districts would be great too!

The Hose Company provides the man power for the department, correct? The department (fire chief) is in charge during calls and the company (company president) is in charge of the inner workings of the building such as fundraising, elections?

How do you guys operate and are there any good items to read about the subject? Any specific laws? I know this is a wide range of questions, just wondering how your organizations operate and differentiate things between the chief being in charge and the president being charge.

x635 likes this

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The Hose Company provides the man power for the department, correct? The department (fire chief) is in charge during calls and the company (company president) is in charge of the inner workings of the building such as fundraising, elections?

That's basically it. The chiefs, captains, and any other officers the department has are line officers and handle any operations related situations such as drills and calls. Officers such as president are civil officers and handle any of the non-operational aspects of the department such as fund raising and running meetings.

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Don't forget pissing away moneys on parades and tee shirts and beer.

If they are non-operational why do they even exist?

Because in places like Yorktown, the main firehouse is actually a private building, and it, including the land in the back property is owned by the Engine Company, not the tax district. The board of directors is responsible for the upkeep of it. Buildings and grounds, recruitment, ect, that are not run by the district and must be taken care of some how. The fundraising money that our Company uses goes directly towards electricity, oil, gas, and other such expendatures that the taxes do not pay. Our firefighters actually pay $12 a year in membership dues to be firemen to help offset the cost.

We have been trying as much as possible in the recent years to inform the public of our two seperate and distinct organizations, and how the operate, but our efforts can only go so far because the general public just doesnt care. When we fundraise, it bears the name of the Engine Company, not the fire district for this reason.

Edited by Morningjoe

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Don't forget pissing away moneys on parades and tee shirts and beer.

If they are non-operational why do they even exist?

Because most of these fire companies were probably incorporated in the late 1800's and early 1900's. To be a corporation you needed "directors" to apply and then corporation officers... President, Vice, Secretary etc....

firemoose827 and markmets415 like this

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Because in places like Yorktown, the main firehouse is actually a private building, and it, including the land in the back property is owned by the Engine Company, not the tax district. The board of directors is responsible for the upkeep of it. Buildings and grounds, recruitment, ect, that are not run by the district and must be taken care of some how. The fundraising money that our Company uses goes directly towards electricity, oil, gas, and other such expendatures that the taxes do not pay. Our firefighters actually pay $12 a year in membership dues to be firemen to help offset the cost.

We have been trying as much as possible in the recent years to inform the public of our two seperate and distinct organizations, and how the operate, but our efforts can only go so far because the general public just doesnt care. When we fundraise, it bears the name of the Engine Company, not the fire district for this reason.

Why? What's the point of separate organizations?

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I would guess that the reason for separate organization is because the fire company/department was formed first. They were probably a group of citizens who got together in response to a need and operated as a single organization for many years. At some point a fire district was formed for the purposes of taxation. That new entity, instead of reinventing the wheel simply collected taxes and then contracted with the existing company/department to provide services.

As for why there are administrative officers and line officers, that is partially due to the requirement to have certain titles represented when forming a company and probably also to divide the work between multiple people who are doing this part time. Could the Chief also be the President, sure it is possible, but sometimes you have members with very different skill sets. This is no different than having staff chiefs and line chiefs in a large career department. As a matter of fact, I have often thought that many volunteer departments do not have enough officers, because they are based on outdated formulas or average responses as opposed to total membership.

Oh and as for wasting money on parades, yesterday I saw a nice new career engine in a parade, as well as the various antiques. It looked good and has some interesting new markings on it. I am not sure that it cost much to put it in the parade, but in my city it is fairly common for the newest career rig to be in local parades. In a way I think it is a shame that after all the work put in by the design committee that career departments don't send rigs to more competitions, as some of them have nice features built in to them.

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So who would handle a disciplinary action? Say there is a pizza night fundraiser where two members have an argument, no fists, just yelling in front of patrons. Clearly, it's not okay to do so. The head of the "company" decides no action should be taken, the "department" head disagrees, who has final say?

I am not going to go through every possible scenario or anything like that, but this is a pretty good example of a possible scenario.

It does seem that this doesn't seem to be a major issue as I don't really see it popping up on here, but I'm really only trying to understand how it works. My question isn't by any means meant to stir up the "waste money, me vs. them" conversations, as it's meant for a better understanding as to how these organizations are set up, and how they run.

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What is the feeling on fire district commissioners serving as fire company officers ( captain, president, etc). Although not illegal I think it is wrong and is a conflict of interest especially if you have a power hungry person who wants to run everything.

markmets415 likes this

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Alrighty then, message received, just a big waste of time, thanks!

So...for those of you who are still members of organizations wasting your time... how do they go about wasting your time? Basically the inner workings of such wasting of times?

How does the president/director work with the Chief?

Anyone have a little further insight on how the municipal departments and how they go about it?

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I only have experience in one department and during most of my time the executive officers were little more than placeholders letting the line officers run the show. That changed with two executive officers who actually knew what their job descriptions were, one of whom was a former line officer. In the (somewhat) modern fire service I have seen a tendency to downplay the importance of these staff positions and in doing so put people in them who really can do nothing to further the interests of the company. I remember hearing about one nearby company that did not file some paperwork for a few years, yet they had a secretary who should have. Allot of times they pick some young guy to be secretary who has never done anything like that job and nobody bothers to show him the ropes. If you did this with a line office, you would be laughed out of the fire service.

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FASNY had a class on this a few years back. Why dont you contact them.

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Alrighty then, message received, just a big waste of time, thanks!

So...for those of you who are still members of organizations wasting your time... how do they go about wasting your time? Basically the inner workings of such wasting of times?

How does the president/director work with the Chief?

Anyone have a little further insight on how the municipal departments and how they go about it?

Every department is different. Go down to your local vol. department and find out for yourself.

Edited by mscimia4

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We are a fire company that is within a fire district, the fire company was established first and own the building and property that the building sits on, the fire district provides us rent for the bay and office space with the building as a line item in their budget.

We have 9 members within the fire company that are the board of directors which oversee the daily operations that the fire company handles, i.e, fundraising, building and ground maintenance issues, sponsoring the civic organizations such as the boy and girl scouts, we provide a space for these groups to meet monthly as well as the senior citizens and assist in functions that these organizations put on. The members of the fire company elect all officers both civil and Firematic on the annual meeting and the District Chief and Deputy Chief are nominations to the Fire Commissioners subject to their approval. All new members voted into the fire company or rescue squad are all subject to approval by the Fire District Commissioners

The fire district pays for all fuel for the apparatus and ambulance, equipment, workman's compensation, payments for the apparatus, repairs on the apparatus, approves all functions that the fire company members may partake in such as parades, drills and so on. The fire district has the power to set forth rules and regulations to governing the fire company and shall have the power to enforce the disciplinary actions (NYS Town Law Section 176 subsection 11.)

In short we have a fire company President that is the chairman of the board of directors that deals with the fire company issues, The line officers deal with all things Firematic and rescue squad related

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In many towns around the country the fire house was and still is a meeting place. Dances and other town functions were held there. The office of president for the company and its board members would handle the social side of things and the line officers are in charge of the firematic side of things.

I know this is so hard for some career firefighter who to them being a firefighter is JUST their job, but to thousands of fire fighters around the country being a member of a fire company is a lot more.

markmets415 likes this

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I appreciate the responses.

I do understand that everyone is different, I won't disagree with that. I just figured that there would be some sort of commonality that most organizations would have so that's what I'm trying to learn more about. This would pertain to not just volunteers, but career firefighters as well, as some districts are combination agencies.

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Where individual differences come in would be in the specific duties each officer has in the By-Laws. Some of the executive officers are fairly standard out of Robert's Rules and others may be different. Some departments might have a Sergeant-at-arms and others do not. Some have separate Directors or trustees that see to the department property and in others this is part of the function of President or Vice President. In my old department it was very clear who could and could not sign contracts or other legal documents on behalf of the department. It is often confusing dealing with government officials when this comes up as most people just assume that they should be dealing with the Chief of any given department/company.

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My department has two identities. First is the "department" which is managed by the Chief . The town government only recognizes the Chief as the leader of the FD. The town funds basically 100% of any firefighting and rescue related expense. The Chief is also responsible for discipline that is needed for incidents that happen during the course of operations, drills, in the firehouse (town owned property) and in the public that reflect badly the department or town . The Chief acts as an ex-officio member of the Board of Directors. The chief is responsible for the town funded operations. The Chief has 2 assistants, 2 captains and 5 lieutenants to run the operations of the department.

The "company", the legal entity of the fire and ems service is a 501c corporation registered with the Secretary of State. The Leader is the President, who oversees a Board of Directors that include a secretary, treasurer, assistant treasurer , EMS Director and 3 trustees. The president is responsible for the company funded operations. This includes the private property we own (fire museum, land and associated antique apparatus) as well as the owning and funding the two ambulances. The company is also responsible for funding items not funded for by the town. In Connecticut, a municipality cannot own a PSA , thus cannot own an ambulance ( ct municipalities are not required to provide ems transport, but must provide ALS via Paramedic). The fire company also is responsible for paying the EMS personnel. We use a 3rd party EMS manpower company to staff the ambulances. This is done via billing for services. Disciplinary actions of the President covers any infraction of the by-laws. Any line officer ( A/C, Capt or LT) can be a member of the BOD.

There is a separate group that oversees the discipline( suspensions) handed out by the Chief . This is a grievance committee made up of a ex-chiefs and past Presidents. If a member wishes to appeal their suspension, then we review the event and make report and recommendation to the company membership .

Edited by CHIEFPHIL
velcroMedic1987 and signal30 like this

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Our fire department actually has 3 levels

First you have the company level of which there are 4 and each company has civil officers (President, VP, Secretary, Treasurer) and line officers (Captain, 1st Lieutenant, 2nd Lieutenant)

Next you have the department which also has civil officers (Pres., VP, Secretary, Treasurer) and line officers (Chief, 1st Assistant Chief, 2nd Assistant Chief)

Then finally you have the district which has a board of commissioners which oversee the tax district, and own the vehicles, insurance policies and certain other things

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My first department on Long Island had two companies; Engine and Ladder, the Rescue Squad was separate also. Each company had their line officers consisting of Captain, 1st and 2nd Lieutenant. They each had their own meetings with their line officers running each meeting, then their was the department meeting, presided over by the Chief, 1st and 2nd assistant cheifs, president, secretary and Treasurer with all companies present. They had their board of fire commissioners who reviewed the books and handled the administrative stuff, they approved any major purchases as well like trucks or new equipment.

Down their, each new member had to serve a one year term witht the rescue squad as well to help out and learn the EMS side of things, then they could either drop their membership or continue.

My department now is a Fire District, governed by the board of commissioners who have their own meetings monthly, open to the public where they discuss the building and grounds, equipment, any upcoming needs of the department which would affect the tax base, and have open discussion so the taxpayers can bitch I MEAN offer their opinions on things. The chief of department and rescue squad captain are required to attend these meetings to give reports on status of equipment and membership. Then we have our department meetings monthly presided over by a president, who mainly just upholds the by-laws and is the deciding vote in a tie for all department matters. Our president is also on the board of commisioners.

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My department now is a fire department. I work for and get paid by them.

I also belong to a union. We do fundraising, coordinate the honor guard, get members involved in the parades, sponsor a little league team as well as a whole host of other items (including negotiating our contracts.)

Wow, look... We have two separate organizations. Both with similar goals but different functions.

Just because YOU don't get the system, doesn't mean it's stupid or a waste of time and energy. The NY fire system is a little convoluted, but it is also filled with tradition and in many cases, pride.

There are things you just can't get done from the floor. The separate organizations provide a means to get things done in many cases.

WHAT?!?!? I don't believe it. Next you'll be telling me the taxpayers buy you T-Shirts and uniforms too! Unbelievable.

Seriously, thank you for having some common sense. Happy Thanksgiving.

dave0820, STAT213 and AFS1970 like this

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My department now is a fire department. I work for and get paid by them.

I also belong to a union. We do fundraising, coordinate the honor guard, get members involved in the parades, sponsor a little league team as well as a whole host of other items (including negotiating our contracts.)

Wow, look... We have two separate organizations. Both with similar goals but different functions.

Just because YOU don't get the system, doesn't mean it's stupid or a waste of time and energy. The NY fire system is a little convoluted, but it is also filled with tradition and in many cases, pride.

There are things you just can't get done from the floor. The separate organizations provide a means to get things done in many case

Not sure if it was regarding the post where I stated "got it, big waste of time", if it was, I'd like to note that it was stated in a thick layer of sarcasm...

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Either way, I'd like to take a moment for the cheesy "thanks for the response" type of post...

I think it's interesting that there are some similarities between the goals of the Unions and the "Companies"

dave0820 likes this

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