One of the things that I really like about the Roanoke Fire-EMS Department is the use of committees within the department to have buy-in by our members. This provides sense of ownership over decisions made which effect our health, safety, and operations while doing our job. The use of committees has been effective in getting us the tools, equipment, uniforms, and vehicles which we rely on to do our jobs effectively, safely, and efficiently.
While there is still a veto power by the Chief over the committee decision, this veto power is not used all the time. Usually the biggest issue that creates a need for veto is budget constraints. All in all, veto over committee decision has not been detrimental in our health, safety, and operations. The one veto that comes to mind as being an outright catastrophe is when a former Chief overruled the apparatus committee on the purchase of two ladder trucks. His decision to purchase vehicles that the committee could not entirely stand behind ended up being cheaper for the City originally. However, over time with the increase in maintenance, out of service time, and repair has cost the City well over the cost of the trucks originally. The firefighters saw up front that it was a bad decision, and have had to live with it since. Ultimately, it will cost the City more money because the trucks will not make it as long as ladder trucks should. The trucks longevity was cut short because of its poor design.
Other committees have made breakthroughs in testing which ultimately had the manufacturers change the design. Our turnout gear and airpack committees did really hard work in finding equipment and gear suitable for us. In doing so, they found flaws which were pointed out (some were even fixed due to our recommendations).
These committees are formed by members of our department who want to make change. These members should be commended for the time they put in and the hard work and dedication they have to their fellow firefighters.
Currently, committee members are testing leather fire boots as well as various turnout gear. To me it is a no brainer to go with leather fire boots. We will see what comes of it. Below, you will see why rubber fire boots are a poor decision and a waste of City money. This is what can bee seen above the gear lockers at Station 13.