Firefighters are among the last public officials that are still widely respected in the community. Citizens think highly of us and thank us for the work we do. We are trusted with almost unrestricted access to people’s homes, businesses, and lives. Firefighters are more likely to be given the benefit of the doubt by those we serve than any other public servant. It is essential that we preserve the respect and trust of the citizens we serve. This is why the National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) has enacted a Code of Conduct for its members.
Through the Code of Conduct, the NVFC sets forth its ethical expectations for its members and demonstrates how the organization’s values go above and beyond common morality and serve the public good.
By following the Code of Conduct, NVFC members demonstrate that we take our mission to serve the public seriously, and that we are worthy of public support.
The NVFC Code of Conduct will play a part in enhancing the sense professional community among firefighters. It reinforces the mutual benefit of being a part of a voluntary and cooperative professional society.
The NVFC’s Code of Conduct applies to all of its members. It defines accepted behaviors and promotes high standards. It provides a benchmark that members can use for self-evaluation and the evaluation of their local fire and EMS organizations. It is a part of the NVFC’s vocational and cultural identity.
I encourage you to read the Code of Conduct and faithfully adhere to each of its premises. Print a copy and hang it up at your home, office, or station to remind yourself of the high standards and strong values you agree to hold as an NVFC member, a public servant, and a respected and honored member of your community.
By Joe Maruca, NVFC Director (MA)
In Newburgh, ME all 11 members of Newburgh’s volunteer fire department quit their jobs after the town selectmen refused to reinstate the former chief, officials said.
The selectmen met Monday to vote whether to reinstate former Chief Glen Williamson, who officially resigned in August. He worked for the department for more than 20 years, the last 10 as chief earning $4,000 a year, he said. During the meeting, the firefighters presented the selectmen with a list of demands, which were rejected, according to a statement from the town.
That’s when the firefighters and former chief walked out.
“The board was presented with a list of three demands by representatives of the fire department,” the town’s statement said. “These demands were limiting in having a workable relationship with the chief and were rejected. Because of this rejection, the fire department personnel in attendance resigned en masse.”
Town Manager Cynthia Grant said the three-person town selectboard endorsed her pick for new chief, Ralph Shaw, during the meeting.
The firefighters had demanded that Williamson be reinstated, that he get his job back without having to apply for it, and that he be allowed to have a liaison, or witness, whenever he met with selectmen or the town manager, said former firefighter Scott Reglin, who spoke for the department at the meeting and was among those who quit in protest. A petition to reinstate Williamson, which was signed by more than 100 residents, was presented to town leaders two weeks ago, he said.
“They [the selectmen] seemed to be already prepared for a walk out,” Reglin said. “It’s pretty sad.”
The department responds to around 50 to 60 serious fires or accidents annually, the former chief said.
Newburgh officials have “been conferring with neighboring towns and their fire departments in anticipation” of the action, the town’s statement said.
Hampden and Carmel officials said their fire departments would respond if there was a fire or other emergency in Newburgh. Dixmont, Hermon, Levant, Winterport and the Maine National Guard in Bangor also are mutual aid partners who would be called.
“Right now, we have all quit,” Williamson, who said he’d been serving as acting chief without pay even though he resigned Aug. 2, said. “The firefighters gave her [the town manager] and the selectmen an ultimatum to put me back in as chief or they were walking. The board said they didn’t like ultimatums, so we walked.”
Williamson said he had resigned at a selectmen’s meeting after years of disagreement with the town manager, but members of his department asked him to return to the post the following day.
Carmel Fire Chief Ryan Simpson said word of the mass quitting spread quickly among local firefighters. Hampden Public Safety Director Joe Rogers was informed of the mass departure Tuesday morning by the Bangor Daily News.
“Hopefully they can find a solution to this mass walkout,” Rogers said. “Because most of us do this because we want to help.”
Williamson admitted he’s “hard headed” and “hard to work with” but said he’s worked for two decades and that all the work he has done over the last two decades has been for the benefit of the town or the department’s firefighters.
“I feel terrible for the town and I feel terrible for the firemen,” Williamson said. “A couple have already asked for letters of recommendations to work at other department, and one has expressed interested in working with the new chief.”
“I wish him luck,” Williamson said later of Shaw.
Copyright 2017 Bangor Daily News
ADAMS, Mass. — The Adams Alerts Hose Company has a new leader in John Pansecchi, who was elected as chief engineer during the annual Fire District election on May 9.
Pansecchi, who has been on the Fire Department for 30 years, said taking the helm feels like a natural transition.
"It feels no different, and I have been assistant chief for 15 years so this was the next step in line," the new fire chief said. "If the former chief was ever away I would fill in, so I worked pretty closely with the last two chiefs."
Pansecchi replaced Fire Chief Paul Goyette, who officially turned over the department on May 9. Goyette spent nearly 40 years with the company and had been chief since 2011.
Pansecchi said he plans to run the company like it has been run in the past and continue to train hard.
"We have a great bunch of guys and we will continue to train hard and try to advance," he said. "That won't change."
Pansecchi said his biggest concern and charge is recruitment. He said volunteer fire departments have seen decreasing numbers over the past few years and that problem is finally "rearing its ugly head" in Adams.
"Recruitment and retention is a problem across the country and it is no different here and I want to put a big effort into that," Pansecchi said. "We are probably at the lowest number of members since I have been here."
He added that it is hard to replace veteran members like Goyette, who have years of experience.
"It's tough we lost some good firemen the last couple of years. This is volunteer and other commitments come up," he said. "When you lose members, who have 20 to 30 years' experience, it is a hit. They are trained and experienced and it takes a while to get that back, but we have to look forward."
The annual election drew 287 voters from the Fire District. Timothy Ziemba was elected as first assistant engineer, David Lennon Jr. as second assistant engineer, Edward Capeless as third assistant engineer and Mark Therrien as fourth assistant engineer.
Kathleen Fletcher was re-elected as water district clerk and treasurer and Norman Schutz was elected to the Prudential Committee.
Courtesy of iBerkshire.com
On-Call Firefighters & Emergency Medical Technicians
Cities and towns are exempt from charges and paying Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits for individuals working for them as on-call firefighters or on-call emergency medical technicians (EMTs), provided they properly and timely complete the required forms.
NVFC’s Cost Savings Calculator
According to the NFPA, the monetary value of donated time from volunteer firefighters is $139.8 billion annually.
An Act to provide volunteer firefighters (and EMT's) with a local option real estate tax exemption is moving through the Senate.
Bills S.1536 (Gobi), H.1566 (Kulik) and H.1537 (Howitt) were assigned to Joint Committee on Revenue and had a hearing on April 3. The Senate bill was accompanied by the 2 House versions on May 11 and reported favorably out of committee and assigned to Senate Rules.
NFPA Standards Council Acts to Establish a Standard for Community Risk Reduction Plans
The National Fire Protection Association Standards Council has approved a request to establish a standard for Community Risk Assessments and Reduction plans. The standard will provide a process for jurisdictions to follow in developing and implementing a Community Risk Reduction plan, which helps identify a community risk profile and allocate resources to minimize risks. The standard was requested by the Vision 20/20 project. Learn more.