John R. Kowalski Integrative Marketing Fusion

Volunteer Fire Department: Internal Crisis

Volunteer Fire Department: Internal Crisis

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As you know, I’ve been with my local fire department for 6 years and a certified firefighter for 4. In that time I’ve seen two Fire Chiefs. The current one has really transformed the department since taking over in 2018. But recently (the past 9 months-ish) there has been a rise in complaints about leadership. Now complains are normal in the fire service, but this is a new level of whining and it’s gotten to personal attacks, emotional abuse and down right nasty. A true internal crisis which is completely unacceptable.

Aren’t we supposed to set an example? To be leaders in the community?

It’s an embarrassment how certain individuals are behaving.

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Some Chief Highlights

  • Developed an Emergency Medical Responder (EMR) program
  • Acquired equipment and gear to ensure compliance (this is HUGE from a safety and liability standpoint)
  • Acquired a new Ford F-350 Quick Response Vehicle
  • Set a regional example of excellence


I’m also on the board as vice president in my second term and second president. The old president had the fire department best interest but it was behind his personal and community center interest. Some sort of strange need for power there.

The new board president seems to have ulterior motives also. Pushing for his buddy, who doesn’t even live on the mountain, to be a member. Though there’s experience, but not seeing a 30 minute response time being helpful.

Internal Conflict

Also, since a handful of members joined (support, mind you, not certified), there has been nothing but trouble. “How come I don’t get full gear?” “I wasn’t issued a radio.” “I don’t like the leadership style.” Those along with several others like it. Also accusations of stealing money by our treasurer and the chief. Several grievances towards our EMR lieutenant also. It’s gotten so bad that in a recent membership survey (which the board president is dragging his feet to review with members) just some flat out rude, unprofessional and downright nasty comments. Passive-aggressive behaviors and too cowardly to address them directly like adults.

I expect more from an organization charged with serving and protecting the community. It is truly disappointing on how these individuals choose to behave. But that’s ok, as they use “good Christian values” as a support system. Sad and not even close to those values.

These people also take to talking gossip, backstabbing and general stirring the pot. Again, great values, jackholes (my combination of jackass and asshole).

And if this wasn’t enough letters to the board and the county commissioner about security cameras in the bays (where the trucks are) and accusations of the chief not being able to do the job due to some recent surgery and an arm in a sling. Mind you, since then, the chief has not done anything physical and is clearly competent to command a fire scene or run a business meeting.

Witch Hunt

Clearly a witch hunt on leadership. Are these whiners really working in the best interest of the community? It certainly doesn’t look like it from my view. These small-minded, power hungry individuals are truly weakening the department and putting the whole community at risk. Instead of all this energy fighting what is, why don’t they get some training and certifications and truly help?

Fuckers. These jackholes piss me off and make me wonder if it’s even worth it. I don’t need this shit as I’m doing it for the community. And this is on top of my body getting beat up. My knee is still messed up from a structure fire a couple months ago.

And the icing on the cake? It’s a VOLUNTEER department. Yes, 100% volunteer for all positions meaning we do this for free. If I were to leave, the community protection is weaker (not because I’ve got an ego, but am 1 of 5 certified firefighters in our department).


I know the chief well and not only is she capable, but has elevated the department in so many ways. She truly cares about the department and community and only has those interests at heart. And based on the bullshit she’s been putting up with, it’s amazing she’s still even here. It’s because she cares that much. That’s why.

My Thoughts

Now I have been around the fire department and fire service long enough to know that this situation is pretty bad. But in my 25+ years’ experience in corporate America, non-profit, broadcast, and consulting, I have never witnessed such destructive and childish behavior. Were you not held enough as a child? Is it the processed food affecting your brains? Is it using the bible as a justification for this hate and downright abuse? Who the fuck knows, and who the fuck cares. If you don’t like it, don’t let the door hit your ass on the way out. Maybe it’s time to clean house and remove these cancerous tumors.

I’m not sure where this will all go yet, but certainly, our community deserves better from these individuals as does the department.

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