The Rumor Mill Mentality

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Well the cat is out of the bag. The Roanoke Rumor Mill is no longer a secret. Well not exactly, people have known about it. It wasn’t openly spoken about until now. Some firefighters have told others about it. I kind of figured it was better left alone as an internal site that the firefighters used. After all you cannot control the firefighters and what they say or do.

If the rumor mill was not anonymous, it would be dead. That is a fact. Besides the occasional person getting on there using there real name to defend themselves, everyone is anonymous.

But what purpose does the rumor mill serve. Well it is a place where firefighters can vent. Sure some of it gets personal, but who cares. You think that stuff isn’t said in the firehouse. The rumor mill is the common firefighters way of pointing out flaws in the system, as well as busting balls which is part of the job.

The interesting thing is this. I have now posted almost 650 posts on this blog. Do you know what most of the firemen remember? About 5 posts. The ones where I have shared my opinion as it differed from the majority or was opposing Roanoke Fire-EMS Administration. Nevermind the hard work and dedication I have put into getting Roanoke Fire-EMS on the map. Never mind the posts that have evoked the reminders of pride, brotherhood, and honor. Nevermind the recruiting tool that this site has grown into. Nevermind all of that. When I share my differing opinion, even when it is shared by most Roanoke Firefighters, there are always those coworkers of mine who love to gasp and comment on how stupid it was to say those things.

Realize for a minute that when I stand up for something, which isn’t too often, I do it properly. I am not rude, ignorant, or irreverent. I state the facts. This is what is referred to as being professional. Some of those who might have a brown nose might call it having balls. Be it that I am standing for something, speaking up for something, or just doing the right thing I am doing it.

What about my viewpoint? Some have said that I am a strict Union Man. Well would you want anything else as your Secretary/Treasurer? I wouldn’t.

Why is everything about the Roanoke Fire Fighters Association and not the Roanoke Fire-EMS Department? Well I am not involved in RFEMS activities too much. I serve on a couple of committees and do little things here and there, but I am not a golden child. I figure this has a lot to do with the fact that I am on the ARFF crew right now. Who knows.

It has been interesting serving as the Secretary/Treasurer though. I get to learn a lot very quickly. It is amazing how firefighters up to Battalion Chiefs ask me what we (the Union) are going to do about certain issues. Some of the issues should be solved on the company level between Captains and Battalions Chiefs. Others would be solved if the Captains stood up as a group and demanded a solution. But everything isn’t always so cut and dry.

The Roanoke Firefighters morale has been crippled in the past several years. Maybe if we had been able to sit at the table of the 5 and 10 year planning sessions we might have come out unscathed. Maybe we would have had a chance.

  • If we were able to understand the decisions made on consolidating firehouses, purchasing apparatus, manpower, pay and benefits.
  • If we were able to give our side of the story.
  • If we were able to give input on the need for a salary and benefits overhaul.
  • If we were able to show how a merit raise and a cost of living increase were necessary to stay above the average, or at least meet average pay.
  • If we were able to show how much we give to this department, to the City, and to our citizens outside of our job description.
  • If we were able to show the extra hours and loss of overtime pay.
  • If we were able to show the micro-managing, the unwritten rules, the unfair and unequal treatment.
  • If we were able to have some of the small things back, the things that made it fun and worth while.
  • If only…
Someone explained to me the other day a view that I had not realized. All the things we used to have to de-stress, to wind down, and to cool off are gone. All day long we are supposed to keep busy, train on this, fix that, go here, do this, be here then, eat when you get a chance. Some companies are busier than others, but no one ever plans a 911 call.

Case and point: Several years ago, during the drought, the Chief said we couldn’t wash our vehicles anymore. I do not think there was a firefighter in Roanoke who did not agree with this. The region was in a serious drought, we were doing our part. The problem is that the ban on washing our vehicles was never lifted. Why you might ask? Well that is a good question. I am wondering the same thing myself. Just that little thing, to wash our vehicles on duty would do so much for this department.

Sometimes you just have to take a step back and take a look around. Otherwise the rumor mill runs rampant.

Go ahead 1…2…3… GASP.

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