Persistence, drive make change possible 
By Captain Jim Williams 

In my first article I discussed riding positions. Now I'll cover the changes we made in the department as a whole. 

In the end of 1991 we sat down and decided it was time to change the structure of our companies. All three companies decided it was time to specialize and also to take a look at  the set up of our company’s officers. 

Each company had to decide what services it wanted to provide.  After several meetings a system, still in current use, was developed.  The Lawrence Hose Company and Eagle McClure both opted to be engine companies, while Hose and Engine chose to concentrate on ladder company operations. 
 

Once the company's role was established, they went to work training very diligently and doing their specific duties on the fire ground.  Now some people will say that a firefigher needs to be trained in everything, and that’s true. But we feel that as long as that firefighter knows the basics in each area,  there is no problem with training harder in a desired field. 

Every other week for over a year we went out to practice pulling  hose, advancing hose, and racking hose.  We accomplished everything an engine company was suppose to cover on first and second due assignments.  As we improved and attended more calls we felt more confident on the fire ground. 

The next thing  to be accomplished was our method of electing a Fire Chief, his Assistant Chiefs, and each individual companies officer’s.  We set up  an advisory board of outside people which interviewed the candidates.  They would then make their  recommendation to the council  of who should fill the Chief’s and his two Assistants' positions. 

The advisory board was comprised of two people involved in the fire service, while the third was a business person from the borough. The qualifications were derived by the three companies with years of experience, certain training mandates, and years being a resident in the borough.  The minimum time spent as a member for these offices was four years.  Then the borough had the option to renew this term for 3 more terms before it would be reopened.  The Chief was to set Operating Procedures for the Fire ground. 

Once this step was completed each Department decided to elect a Captain and two Lieutenants.  These positions are responsible for the day-to-day operations of each company.  Each department set their operating procedures which covered their first and second due assignments, and qualifications in rating their members by levels of firefighting. 
 
The most controversial issue raised in Lackawanna County at the time was setting up a box alarm.  We decided to consolidate resources with Company 98 from Moosic Borough. 

We wanted to have three engines, a ladder, and rescue on all first due assignments pertaining to structure boxes. 

Greenwood also did this in their  borough.  We received much criticism for this with comments ranging from “you can’t handle your own town”, to “you’ve turned into a big parade”. But we knew this was the right direction to take and it was the best for both towns.  Avoca also added into the mix and things were running very smooth.  It’s funny know to look back and see the resistance we were getting and now over three quarters of the County run multiply companies. 

In my final segment I will cover how we set up the cab in the Engine for how we respond on Engine Companies Assignments and as the FAS Team.  I just want to end by saying again  that we did not invent any of this.  We searched all over the country for ideas, trained constantly, and listened to the firefighters on how to make the system work.  One has to be able to change and adapt, realizing he can always learn something from everything he sees. 

Related:

Read the first article in the series
 
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