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.
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
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
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
the first article in the series