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Tuesday, June 03, 2008

The direction the Blog is going

Apparently, some people do not like the blog anymore. Some of these people are the subject of a lot of the posts recently. I apologize. Not for the posts, but for the need for them. However, this isn't my fault. I am not the one who openly admits (and has to many firefighters) that he said what he had to say on camera and to the Roanoke City Council to keep his job. The words he spoke came from another's mouth, but it was his job to say them. Or what? Or he would be retaliated against? Perhaps retribution for telling the truth (if it is possible)? Maybe even fired if he did not tell them what he was told to say.

I remember in a Council meeting several years back the Nelson Harris said that Roanoke City would not stand for Retaliation. The comments were spurred by Rodney Jordan telling City Council about the retaliation that is ever present in the department. He promised us. After all, Roanoke City Council is supposed to be the Decision Makers in the City. They are supposed to have complete control and the City Manager and subsequent team under the CM is to carry out those decisions. So if the Mayor said it, it must be true (remember that little ditty).

Apparently, the web is tangled, that web which was woven several years ago. Now the City has Department Heads afraid for their job. So very afraid that one might actually put the Citizens and City Employees at risk instead of telling the truth. Those very employees which are "our most important resource" and " residents and visitors of Roanoke are our customers" (link).

There are so many other things to discuss. Like the Captains wasting their time on evaluations. Nobody cares about getting an 80, 90, or 100. It is nearly impossible to get 100. even if you get above a 90 what have you got. Nothing. Sure, last year there was more of a raise if you got above a 91. They were on the right track to a point. Other than having some Captains who did not want to take the time to justify a high mark, or want to fight with the Chiefs over why they gave the score. After all, the Captains should know and should be trusted to give fair evaluations. If not, then why are they Captains.

Mediocrity is the word of the day. Nobody cares about evaluations. Nobody wants to do any extra. Nobody wants to keep getting walked all over.

The sad thing is that I wasn't always this way. You can look back right here on the blog and see how I used to be. This department was the best department in the World. I have helped recruit many to the job. Candidates from all over the Nation pop in to see what is going on. I have always offered a no bullshit approach to it. I don't care who they are, just that they are interested and I pass on the information they need. Ask around, people know who we are and they liked what they saw. The tides have turned.

The only reason why I post these rants as I do is because it gives so many a voice. Too many people are scared of retaliation, and they are able to comment and add to my thoughts anonymously. I would much rather be working on something else and talking about all the good in the department.

34 comments:

Anonymous said...

You couldn't have hit the nail more on the head when you said that the guys are tired of doing more just to get walked on. Before even the slightest hint of all of these budget cuts I had plans of trying to get into as many classes as I could to receive a higher number on my eval. But now why should I, a 2% raise? With the cost of food, gas, & utilities on a rise, what is that 2% going to do for us. Not to mention the rising cost of health insurance. Thanks alot for a slap in the face admin!

Anonymous said...

To this, I say ditto!

Anonymous said...

retaliation is rampant here. FF's have promotional chances crushed, are given punishment assignments, have merit reviews lowered by downtown, are labeled as disgruntled and are projected in a bad light whenever possible just for disagreeing with
administration. they typically punish and discredit anyone that disagrees with them. none of this is fair, but grigsby started it when he came here and encouraged/allowed others to do it. we all complain about ralphs heavy-handed retaliation habits, but they let him do it. they don't stop it. they join in.
so maybe hoback is right to fear retaliation from grigsby and red. but if he had any nads, if he cared about us or the department, he would have stood up. we do, and we take the retaliation. we complain even though it falls on deaf ears, but we stand up.
91 FF's went to council over the cuts. others were on duty or had family obligations. clearly the majority of the department is appalled by the cuts and the utter disregard for our safety exhibited by burcham/grigsby/hoback.
most of us had no respect for hoback from the start. now it would be hard to find anyone that does.
and for those of you that sucked up to grigs to get your promotion, you contributed to this debacle.
now look at the mess we're in. you rolled over as long as it was someone else getting screwed. it gets worse here every day. what are you going to do now?

Anonymous said...

merit reviews are a joke. there is no reward for going above and beyond. raises and benefits are pitiful. there is no budget problem, we are simply being slashed. the city just gave 3.4 million to the redevelopement housing authority.
they ought to be ashamed of how they treat us.

Anonymous said...

More lies, Roanoke has no money last month, this month they give another $3.4 million to the South Jefferson st. redevelopment project. http://www.roanoke.com/news/roanoke/wb/164325

Anonymous said...

Hey Rhett, Ralph say's not to listen to you! He said your facts and numbers are all wrong and you don't know what your talking about. Ha! Ha! You got there attention now! Should'nt they be deciding wich truck to do away with next insted of reading this?

Anonymous said...

Rhett, buddy i'm sure admin. isn't a fan of this site, but coming from a guy in company this place is great. It is our voice!! You can only be so honest before you are retaliated against! The Chiefs can get on here and see the monster that they have created. The bitterness, the unhappiness, it's all on display and they can see just what they have done to this department. So keep up the good work and the interesting posts! They sure are great to read!

Anonymous said...

Hoback's fear of losing his job is justified. Look what happened to Chip Snead just a few years ago when he didn't just follow Burcham blindly. She told him to get packing and promoted a hatchet man who would do her bidding.

Anonymous said...

Rhett,

Just an idea, the city currently has been rated a 2 from ISO, that was before the Engines at 7 and 13 were taken out of service, not to mention the Engine that will be placed out of service during the new 5/9 merger. I believe that you should challenge city council to ask ISO to come in and re-evaluate the city's fire protection, you as a group of firefighters are not allowed to request this but your city can, so I suggest that you challenge council to request another eval of their fire protection. The ISO standards help dictate what commercial and home fire insurance rates will be for a certain locality, oh, by the way the eval is free so there should not be an excuse for lack of money. There is a large section for manpower and equipment in this rating and I would not be surprised that the city's rating would drop to a 3, this would get the citizens and business owners attention by raising their insurance rates, just an idea,might be worth looking into. Keep on keeping on brothers.--Ridge St. Express

Anonymous said...

The rumor from the staff meeting is "don't pay attention to the blog, Rhett has it all wrong, and only 2% of the department is disgruntled." I knew the white shirts had lost touch with reality, but are they really that ignorant? Yes, they are.

How else could you be running a fine fire department into the ground without a care in the world, while giving out the impression that you are being used as a puppet?
If they think only 2% of the department is disgruntled, who do they think is doing all of the posting on here? It is time we all stood up and let them know how pissed we are. Rhett and Rodney have been sticking their necks out for a long time, it is time we all do the same.We need to all fill out mileage reimbursements when we travel to other stations.Anyone in EMT-I class should be submitting lunch receipts and mileage forms. Voice your opinion at every turn. They truly believe that the majority of us are happy, so we have to prove them wrong. The times are tough right now, but by sticking TOGETHER we can ride it out and turn the tide. Start proving them wrong today.

Anonymous said...

Rhett, I love the site. Its a voice for us and easy to keep up on whats going on when your on 4 day. I cant belive the shape oud department is in right now?! Its sad. Look at the door at 13. Thats par for the course. Cant even put back the same color!! WTF

Anonymous said...

Hell ya Rhett your doing a great job the truth hurts. Hoback is a joke. I heard he said that only 2 or 3 percent of the department is unhappy, is he F##kin stupiddd or does he believe that BS.  The truth is  he had every chance to tell council the truth. ON his hire to the job of chief RED and Grisbo made it clear that the only way he could have the chief job was if he did what he was told. Anybody with a brain can see this.  How does a man that has never done the job and has no education until last minute get to be the chief of a paid fire department, that's the question that the news needs to ask. It simply does not make any sense unless something underhanded is    going on. Nobody can tell me David Hoback was the most qualified for this job. He has some very good skills in the tech area, but in no way was he ready for chief. What I can not get by is the fact he has let his ambition override our safety and the public. Any man like that need not be in charge of peoples lives.    PLATO REPUBLIC

Anonymous said...

you know I wish that we could talk to admin and tell them how they have messed up. Let them know that I and many others loved this job but more and more it is just that a job to keep food on the table. With the 2% raise and the cost of living going up it is getting harder to do that. The problem is no one in admin see any problem and even if they do they know they have us by the balls. Because we will do our job and if we don't there is always someone out there that will. Sure if they lose one or two along the way while running the dept. into the ground so be it. "Cann't make an omlet with out breaking a few eggs." They know the rest will dig in and get it done like we always do. So as long as they have the upper hand there is nothing we can do. In the end anything we do short of something very darmatic is pointless. Last thing if they think only a few of us are unhappy about the direction the dept seems to be going, maybe they should count us. Cheif count me as number 1.

To young in my career to post my name. Young but not dumb.

Anonymous said...

Normally I think you are an idiot Rhett but this time I have to agree with what you've said. Ill give you one thing....you certainly have the cojones' to voice your opinion and let everyone know its you. Kudos.
Sol Rosenberg

Anonymous said...

Rhett, Here is an idea. if Admin thinks only 2% of us are unhappy. Would you list your next post as "UNhappy" about the direction our Department has turned. and get everyone that is unhappy to sign there true name to the post that way they can see how we all feel.
Scott Mutter

Anonymous said...

Rhett, if I am correct, we have 240 employees, 2% would be 5 employees. Let me be the first to sign my name to UNHAPPY list.

BARON GIBSON

Mike Rose said...

Well, I too will add my name. I know of several Firefighters and Officers that are looking elsewhere for a way out. Medics are leaving because of the problems and shifts, good leaders are leaving or looking to leave because of what they are subjected to in the Department. Hiding in alleyways watching for mistakes, looking for ways to "get" the employees is not the way to run a business.

Four years and counting for me, if I can financially make it work, I will be gone as soon as I can. I came to this department planning on staying here forever, but that has changed. We are no longer valued employees that are cared for and respected. We are now throw away employees, to be used up and replaced. May 01, 2012..

Some things that can be done to make the Department better ??

Talk to the men and find out what they think of the current events.

Stop looking at the "reports" to see if we are sitting around doing nothing. Sure, we have a ton of free time if we are not on calls, doing pre-fire plans, hydrants, public events, child safety seats and oh yeah, trying to study and go to school so we can better ourselves and get a little better raise, or by the off chance to get promoted, but you must be in the right group to get that.

Stop trying to micro manage the day to day operations. Why in the world do we need to call anyone other than the garage in order to get a piece of apparatus fixed? I have no problem with calling the Bat. Chief and letting them know and then going to the garage, after the fact, we can, or the BC can let Admin know we had to get something fixed. But why do we need to call an Admin Chief in order to get a light bulb replaced.

How about letting the employees wash their cars again? I know it got to the point of major vehicle repair and pulling apparatus out to detail cars, but deal with those problems directly, and don't punish everyone for the mistakes of a few.

Let the officers command the fires. Why do we need Captains and BCs if the office is just going to show up and take command? And if the story is correct, when the call went south, turn it back over to the BC. Admin is just that Administration. There is no need for them to respond to calls emergency. There is no need for them to take command. Let the people that are in the position to be in Command stay in command.

Let the office feel some of the burden of the cuts. Take away some of the cars. Sure, the Chief should have a car, but the 3, 4, 5, 7 or whatever of the others do not need to be taken home. How much gas are we using for that? Let everyone else but the Chief drive their own cars, just like we do, and if they HAVE to come in for some reason, they can drive in their personal vehicle and pick up their company car.

How about honoring transfer requests? I understand the need to make sure there are qualified people assigned to the stations, but if someone wants to work for a particular Officer or at a particular station or shift, why not let them move? It is definitely not because they need people that know the area, look at the plan for E13. From what I understand, there will be people transferring in there each day we have "enough" to take the 4th person off of another piece of apparatus and send them to man E13. I do not think there will be enough people assigned to L13 to keep E13 staffed in house, but I could be wrong.

Retaliation, we all know it happens, it has happened to me. Put a STOP to that immediately, do not encourage it by letting it go and sweeping it under the rug.

Get the "Contracts" (Strange choice of words for a right to work State) under one umbrella. Make the people required to be an EMT-I become one. Don't let anyone slip by. There are guys who met their requirement and have been doing the job for a couple of years, while others in their class have still not met that requirement. Fix it and make everyone play on the same field or make it a viable consequence if they do not. Saying they will not get promoted is not the answer. Heck, I know several medics that would gladly drop their medic and stay a firefighter for the rest of their career.

Bottom line is 2% disgruntled is BS, looked like 91 or about 33% looked unhappy with the way the department is going. And that is just the ones that could make the Council Meeting.

We can make this department better, but it HAS TO START at the top.

Mike Rose

Anonymous said...

Us young guys have too much to lose to post our names. Fear of never being promoted, transferred to a bad assignment, etc.....

Unfortunately, thats how the game is played. Im not sure that Hoback knows what is going on and he probably doesnt really care. Smart guy who has no spine.

Anonymous said...

Mike Rose is right everything he said is dead on. We will lose more and more people because of all the BS. You Medics better get out the KY because more medics will be out of here and the ones that remain will be running all the calls.

To young to post my name

Anonymous said...

One more thing I forgot to say all the ALS providers should be riding the Box at least once a month. What I am saying is that if you have ALS and a bar or two or three even five you should be on a medic truck at some point each month for 24. And RS1 dosen't count. One it will help the ALS with no bars out and keep the ALS somewhat up to date and knock some rust off as well. Also I think anyone grading someone on there job should see you do it. So Capt's should be riding with there medics some days.

To young

Anonymous said...

Obviously City Council and the administration aren't going to pay a bit of attention to what the backbone of the department (the firefighters) have to say about this situation. They hide under the umbrella of "disgruntled employees". So who can we turn to to get results? The citizens of Roanoke. I mean let's face it we're going to do what we always have done, we are going to respond in the quickest and most efficient manner possible. We are going to be aggressive and professional on the scene and get the job done. So who is going to suffer when we fall short? Once again the citizens! I propose we (local 1132) take out a full page ad in the paper to make the citizens aware of what is really going on.

The article should highlight such points as:

1. The fact that the Fire Chief and one Dep. Chief have never been firefighter, so what qualifies them to command a fire scene at your house or business since they have never done the job to understand what's going on. On a side note, as far as Ch2 is concerned I'm pretty sure he wasn't much of a Fireman in his day, if he was he's forgotten everything he learned! (it's evident by the way he runs a fire scene!)

2. I believe the City admin and Fire admin. are prejudiced, reason being, they continue to take Engines and manpower out of the NW quadrant of the city which is predominately minority based. You don't see any Engines leaving south Roanoke do you?

3. Another point to illustrate is the true number of employees who are dissatisfied. we should have an independent survey done that way no one sees the names of the employees. This way we'll get real results and publish them as well.

4. There should also be a link to this blog so the citizens can "check up" on the department's status.

I could go on but you get the jist of where I'm going here.

Things are bad guys, lets' stick together and maybe we can eventually get our heads back above water.

Anonymous said...

Ok, Its time you stopped bashing Hoback. Down here at the Read Mountain Fire Department he is a great member and helps out a lot. Just the other day he drove a fire truck to a call with an uncertified FF riding the seat just so we would not miss the call. I don't understand why you are all talking about his leadership skills because I don't know what we would do without him.

Anonymous said...

yeah, we keep losing medics & they keep adding medic units to new places. when are the capt's & LT's that are medics gonne be required to ride again to cover those units?
-we can't rely on anyone downtown, we have to rely on each other. take care of the people you work with day after day. thats all we have these days boys. dont let your brothers down...keep your chin up & have faith..here in another year, they get to go on the news again & make the same rhetorical "nothing will change with the closing of ANOTHER station". a 4th engine lost...back on the news again, fighting the good fight....more stink to be caused...
unfortunately people don't learn until it's too late. too late will be when this 5/9 merger is done. oh well, 15 years to go....

en2fire said...

Its not my fault!!! They made me say it!!!! I might loose my job!!!!
Seriously?
Seriously!!!!! YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME!!!!

CRY ME A RIVER!!!

Hoback saved his own job by sacrificing 12 others.... Here is a budget saving measure.. Since Big Jim is still running the show how about they cut Hoback... That will save the city six figures.. We sure as hell dont need a PUPPET CHIEF...

If Hoback had been the Man and Chief we all had hoped for, he would have done the right thing.

Stood Tall and told BIG JIM and BIG RED NO!!!
No I will not endorse this new budget plan.. It will effect service to our Citizans, It puts lives at risk.. If you want it done, then do it yourself...
I'm standing with the Men and Women of ROANOKE CITY FIRE-EMS!!..

But no, He took the COWARDLY way out.. and now he wants to come out to our stations for Understanding, for Sympathy....

PLEASE... We are in a budget crunch....Save the CITY the fuel money... And Save me from CHOKING on my own VOMIT.. Stay down at Admin.. Nothing you have to say is worth listening to, and you have proved yourself a LIAR... I dont want to hear more...


I Stand with my Brothers and Sisters...

We take Pride in ourselves and the work we do, but we have no Pride for a Figure Head Chief...

I am just 1 of the many on the UNHAPPY LIST...

Kathryn Edwards
Firefighter/EMT
10yr Veteran

Anonymous said...

If you are that young in the Department, i would look for some other place to work.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately 10 years isn't young in our department anymore. These guys that have9, 10, 11, and so forth years of service are the senior guys (& gals) of our department. And even the folks that are 40+ with more than 10 years left to retire are looking for ways out of this never ending hell. But, I can ask one question, Katherine do you really consider yourself a veteran? Nobody fights fire like they used to.

signed:
A man with way too much time left to be happy about it.

Anonymous said...

Chief Hoback may be a good leader at Read Mountain but that is a totally different animal. He's lost the City FF's respect. C'mon, he's not a fire fighter, not a good chief, does play a puppet fairly well, and started out as a secretary for gods sake!!!

We certainly respect volunteers who are willing to do the work that needs to be done but he has no business running a Roanoke City fire scene....there are WAY too many qualified officers/BC's to do that who the FF's have confidence in.

An ad may not be a bad idea which will generate more media attention on the problems. For once, Id like to see my union dues go to something worth while.
Sol Rosenberg

Anonymous said...

"Down here at the Read Mountain Fire Department he is a great member and helps out a lot."

Well that maybe the case, but I bet if the Roanoke County Board of Supervisors wanted to cut volunteers from your precious Company 12 he'd be the first one to slit your throat! Kinda like he's doing in the city!

Anonymous said...

we all are under a budget at home.
-Our personal Income dictates how much we spend at home.
-The FD's income dictates how much they spend. The FD income is a gross amt of money at the July 1 of each year.
-this we all understand.
--My problem is this: come budget time, the sherrif was there before coucil asking not to have her budget cut as it would affect A B & C. Caldwell was ther as the head of the attourneys office, he too did the same thing.
Our "LEADER" however, was on the news days prior defending the cuts saying it was OK. Humorously enough, the Police Chief wasn't there either. Another tidewater person(PUPPET) & they took a bigger hit than us. NO woe is me from him either.
Did anyone notice that?
is that a coincidence?

Anonymous said...

Hey buddy, hey chief, yea chief, here's 29 cups of coffee chief, hey buddy, yea buddy, buddddddddy, buuddddddddy, buuuudddddy, I get so sick of hearing and "C-ing" that crap. The way they kiss his a$$ you'd think he was god?

Anonymous said...

The horror, the horror.....:)

Anonymous said...

Ralphie cakes once said he'd retire when he thought he couldn't do ANYMORE good for the dept. Well buddy It IS TIME FOR YOU TO GO. Captains meeting Chief Hoback stood with the LODD from Prince William and said I don't want this to happen here. Quess what Chief PWC is staffing minimum ladders with 5 men, engine co. with 4 men. And you're cutting. Go cry in Jimbos' office some more like you did after the meeting at 13 B shift the other day. Pathetic.

Anonymous said...

What happened at 13B??? Tell Tell,, What excuses did Noback use??

en2fire said...

To: A man with way too much time left to be happy about it...

Your comment was right on about years of service in this department.. 9,10 years or more of service gives you seniority over half or more of the department..

But when I refered to myself as a VETERAN.. I simply meant someone that has invested too much to walk away...

We all are fighting the same fight brother, and that is not necessarily fires...

Kathryn Edwards
Firefighter/EMT
10yr Veteran