Our VFD optimally has 15 responders made up of 1 Chief, 2 Deputies, and 12 Firefighters.
I joined up at 16, we had 8 responders. Due to a lot of turnover in our department, by the time I was 18 and had my NFPA 1001 Level 1 and a number of other course, I had nearly the highest number of training hours, and nearly the most hotzone experience. One of the existing DC's decided he need to step down as the demands of his day job (he operated his own garage and bodyshop) and personal life need more attention. The Chief asked the other experienced firefighters if they'd be willing to take the position, starting with the most experienced, but they were all too busy or didn't want the added responsibility.
Eventually it came down to me, and I agreed but on the condition that the firefighters would have a secret ballot to affirm my appointment. At the time (late 2005) I was 19, and all of the other firefighters were older than me, most quite a bit older than me, and I wanted to make sure that they were mostly okay we me being in command. The vote passed with a majority of yays, one or two abstentions, and zero nays.
I assumed the post and commanded a crew for a number of incidents, and assumed the IC position on a few occasions as well. I attended additional training (including NFPA 1001 Level 2) during this period, and continued to hold the rank for a couple of years. In early 2006 I got a new job and moved half an hour away, but by this time some of the guys who were newbies in 2004 were now experienced Level 1's, and we had more than one option for me to pass command to. I stepped back down to Firefighter rank and let somebody else do the paperwork for a while.
As I mentioned, my new job and home are about half an hour away from the hall (in very good traffic and driving conditions), so I don't carry a pager. I do consider myself "on call" via my cell if they need extra manpower for a long engagement, though most of my contribution these days is providing training (I'm a Level 1 Instructor now), equipment maintenance, and Public Ed.
In addition to what Baxter said, my former department also demoted officers who weren't active enough in calls, training, meetings etc. They were generally given a warning and if they didn't sort themselves out they were removed and replaced by another member.
There is also cases of people getting demoted because of the old boys club. My old department went through this last year. For a while they had a good group of officers who were very active members with experience and training mixed with the odd old boys. Last election they chose to demote the two Deputy Chiefs, almost all of the Captains and replaced them with a bunch of their friends.
we have recently gone from volunteers with good intentions, to paid on call and a new chief who really stresses staying current, in the past most guys only lose rank by stepping down ,but now with some younger guys being alot more experienced and keen we will have caps replaced im sure of it because there are a few who do no training what so ever.
then if they retire they get regular ff du's and honorary member status.
During my tenure the long serving Chief stepped down, we had a new Chief for about 5 years, and then he was defeated in the yearly elections. The current Chief of that department has been in place since 1999. The Deputy Chief and Assistant Chief positions were both long tenured, however the Captains and Lieutenants could change on a yearly basis I believe they may have changed to a two year interval between elections, but I stand to be corrected.
As far as uniforms went, we never had dress uniforms, so the uniform question was a moot point. Our uniform consisted of a blue shirt, which we had to supply ourselves. The department supplied the shoulder flashes. I believe that they have upgraded to full uniforms issued by the department, and some have dress uniforms.
Stay safe !!
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