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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

County Fire Department in disarray

Monday, March 14, 2011

For now, the town of Poland is still without the majority of its volunteer firefighters.

Recently, Stan Frank, who had served as Poland Fire Territory Fire Chief for six years, resigned from the post.

Frank left the position in protest after the Poland Fire Protection Territory Board re-instated a former firefighter who had been removed for conduct unbecoming.

Frank, who had been with the department for 10 years total, said he had been informed by the territory board the person would not be brought back. In February, during a board meeting, it was requested the former firefighter be removed from the organization.

"(The firefighter) was asked to resign, and did," Frank said.

However, Frank said the person was re-instated this month against the wishes of the remaining firefighters.

As a result, 22 other firefighters resigned from their positions.

"I did not fathom that everyone would follow me," Frank said.

Frank told The Brazil Times the firefighters gathered with members of the community Sunday in a sign of solidarity hoping to find resolution from the situation.

"The way it's looking, I don't look for it to be resolved," Frank said. "We were hoping that something would come about. You're giving up 22 well-trained firefighters for one. You've got to weigh the differences."

The Poland Fire Territory Volunteer Fire Department covers Cass Township in Clay County and Jackson Township in Owen County. Frank said the department covers roughly 36-square miles.

According to the department's website, the organization was established in 1959. In 2006, the fire department merged with Jackson Township in Owen County to form the Poland Fire Territory.

Clay County Emergency Management Director Bryan Husband said he's not surprised by the firefighter's actions.

"I know Stan personally," Husband said. "I know the situation they're in. You hate to see it come to this type of action."

Husband said the issue is now one of trust.

"From a leader standpoint, they did not believe in the chief that they put into office," Husband said.

In a press release sent out by volunteer firefighters, the department is now "appealing to the public for their assistance."

"This is a sad situation for the firefighters and for the community," the release stated. "The firefighters are volunteers who sacrifice their time and efforts, often at the expense of their own families and money.

"The firefighters will return if the former member that the territory put back into the director's position is removed permanently. If not, there will be no firefighters left."

Husband said the situation could end badly and the possibility of the fire territory being dissolved is possible.

"I don't think it will (end) the way they want it," Husband said. "But I think there will be something that will happen. It's a bad deal for the people in the area."

Since the crisis began, Frank said he has received lots of support from the community.

"I've had multiple calls," he said. "People are in support. They are behind all of us."

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Why would the volunteers walk out on the community they protect? One would think that there is better solution to this problem.

-- Posted by okelly38 on Mon, Mar 14, 2011, at 10:52 AM

My biggest question is why would the firefighter removed for misconduct care more about himself than the community. While I am sad for the community to loose the firefighters, I am proud of them for standing up for what is morally right! This one bad apple needs to step down!

-- Posted by dana67 on Mon, Mar 14, 2011, at 10:59 AM

The needs of one do not outweigh the needs of many .. the firefighter they brought back should step down IMO.

-- Posted by Emmes on Mon, Mar 14, 2011, at 11:09 AM

It is sad in deed.The community is truly the one suffering. The firefighter that was reinstated onto the director's board is power hungry and doesn't care about anything else. I know the situation from a different standpoint and the misconduct that this firefighter was asked to resign for is a little more serious than things sound. The department put up with it for far to long as it was and for the board to only get rid of this person for one month is like a slap in the face. I believe the other firefighters made the right decision and now it is up to the board to do the same unfortunately unless we the community all make a stand things will probably never get resolved the way it should. It is sad that they are standing behind their decision of 1 being more important than 22 and the community. Because choosing one puts the community at more risk and they know it.

-- Posted by nickolcia on Mon, Mar 14, 2011, at 11:25 AM

Where is the accountability in this situation?

-- Posted by Hugh Lovett on Mon, Mar 14, 2011, at 12:04 PM

That's become the way of our society. If you don't like it, just quit and walk away. We have legislaters who are avoiding the issues. Why not these guys?

-- Posted by Jed on Mon, Mar 14, 2011, at 12:45 PM

The dedication it takes to be a volunteer on a fire department is significant. Unlike the old days where guys in the community could grab a coat and run to the fire to spray water, these firefighters spend many, many hours in training. Then add to that all the first repsonder duties that many department now do. Frankly, it's a huge obligation and it will take Poland years to recover from what they lost with those 22 leaving.

-- Posted by brazilian on Mon, Mar 14, 2011, at 12:48 PM

What did the firefighter do that warranted him to be punished in the first place?

-- Posted by PutGrad06 on Mon, Mar 14, 2011, at 1:51 PM

How long should the rest of the department ignore his sexual harassing just to serve their community? It is not fair to the woman in the department to have to put up with his harassment and they probably didn't want the bad publicity for the department. So they got him removed and then the board goes and lets him come back as a director. So why now do some people think that the rest of the firefighters are doing wrong for the community when they don't have a good environment to work under. They are volunteers I bet they didn't volunteer to be sexual harassed on a regular basis.

-- Posted by nickolcia on Mon, Mar 14, 2011, at 2:28 PM

The female firefighter should contact the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Maybe contact an attorney.

-- Posted by Hugh Lovett on Mon, Mar 14, 2011, at 4:50 PM

We hope the decision of the firefighters territory was worth the cost, the firefighters should have been backed by the territory on the issue of this one person not opposed. these guys did a great job for our community at the cost of family time and money for no profit to them, we think our community should back the firefighters all the way for their decision on this matter. Hopefully it will get resolved soon we need our firefighters back!

JIm and Anita Williams

-- Posted by anitamarie on Mon, Mar 14, 2011, at 6:01 PM

What is the community doing for fire protection? I think i would be contacting my Township Trustee and to find out.

-- Posted by okelly38 on Mon, Mar 14, 2011, at 9:26 PM

I know Stan Frank and he wouldn't have taken this action if there wasn't a good reason. These firefighters volunteer to put their lives at risk and they shouldn't be forced to work with somebody that they can't trust.

Jed, I don't think this can be compared with the situation involving our State Representatives. These firefighters did things the right way and had a problem removed from the department so they could provide proper protection to the people in their territory. It's not the firefighter's fault that the board pulled a back door move and brought him onto the fire territory board. If he wasn't fit to be a firefighter, how can he be fit to serve on the board of directors? I darn sure wouldn't volunteer my time on a department that was now being ran by a person I couldn't trust.

I think the territory fire board needs to be replaced. It seems that they are using their "power" to force their own agenda on the firefighters. Best of luck to all the men and women of the Poland Fire Department.

-- Posted by snow on Mon, Mar 14, 2011, at 11:12 PM

If I understand this correctly, the fire territory board of directors has essentially acted in agreement with the Fire Chief in removing the accused firefighter from the department, but then later negated that in a certain way by placing him as a member of the Fire Territory Board. Does the action of the board solve the issue of the accused firefighter working with the female firefighter? Do Fire Territory Board members respond to emergencies? What are the main responsibilities of a fire territory board? Just wondering, not trying to take sides at all. I'm also curious on how the appointment of fire territory board members is regulated. Maybe the members of the department should assist the female firefighter in contacting the EEOC and get legal advice on what actions should be taken. Possibly discuss this with an attorney to find out the proper steps to end this strange situation. The dilemma the firefighters are in is evident, they seem like a close knit group. The ability they have to resign their positions in unison as a symbol of protest is unusual in the workplace. What is it that gives these twenty-two firefighters such a unique arrangement where their personal obligations can be set aside, and the duties to the public that they have had such a noble calling for can be placed on hold to protest a single decision in this manner? I hope for the best for the community.

-- Posted by Hugh Lovett on Tue, Mar 15, 2011, at 9:32 AM

The long and the short of it are:

1. The former member seems to be have removed for what is an violation of Federal Workplace Law.

2. The Department took steps to have the person removed.

3. There are many rules and laws that can be used I would think to keep the removed person from having any sort of interactions dealing with the FD. Does the departments response area cover and federal highways? then the No Fear act may be useable ...

The laws and the loopholes go both ways and I do not know anything about the board of directors for this agency, if they are voted in or what....but I personally would advise the chief and the resigning firefighters to talk with a civil rights attorney in their state and see what rights they may have...

Just some thoughts from a fellow firefighter....

-- Posted by jmyerffemt on Tue, Mar 15, 2011, at 10:13 AM

Ask the Cass Township Trustee why she put him back on the board and why she will not reverse her decision! Smells funny to me!!!!

-- Posted by Proud of My Country on Tue, Mar 15, 2011, at 11:16 AM

It is shocking that the board of directors would continue to include this particular individual in the workings of the department with this liability present. I'm concerned with what standards are being used to remove this person from the department and/or place him on the board. I see a systematic idea used to remove the accused, but then when things aren't in order with that system, instead of following a legal method, a different direction is chosen. Did this particular individual admit his guilt? Was evidence presented to the board of directors? If this system was followed properly, and his guilt was proven, or presumed in some form, why would he be allowed to be a board member? It is strange indeed, but I don't know all the details of the situation. It seems from the article that the Chief feels his actions have been diluted. He resigns. Completely understandable from any point of view. He has probably exhausted his efforts as a supervisor and feels he has done the proper thing. Whether or not he should leave the department completely isn't as clear. That is a personal decision though, not one that should be speculated on. He is one man, with certain responsibilities and seems to have acted in the direction of majority of his subordinates. He used a method to achieve what he thought was proper based on his opinion and hopefully other forms of proof. That method and system worked to a degree. Objectively speaking, why would members then abandon this proper system of proof and examination in this official capacity and resort to an erratic choice to leave the community without protection. I understand a point must be made, but what if the entire field of public safety had this attitude, this shortened tolerance for mishandling of situations? What if something similar happened to a public safety official in a different entity, and in the blink of an eye the entire force of a police department, fire department, or even a sheriff's department walked away from their posts. Jailers, dispatchers, deputies..gone. Leaving the community they once served with dedication without any protection. That type of unity isn't a bad quality for a group. Although, in the realm of public safety there should be limits to actions in that respect.

What limits us from saying I quit? What stops us from saying, "this is my last day of doing this job!" because a friend or co-worker has been mistreated by "the powers that be". Why don't deputies, jailers, police officers dramatically throw their badges in the air and watch them bounce and dent the desk of their superiors in resignation more frequently? I ask you, what obligates YOU at your job? At any job. Why don't you leave it on a bad day? When poor decisions are made, why don't we in the traditional workforce stop our production and stop our service to those that rely on us?

If something illegal is going on here take the proper path, follow that method that we all must have faith in, take legal action. Determine from a reputable outside source versed in this subject that those township executives who sit on the board have done something improper. When it comes to the safety of their community the firefighters must understand the gravity of their own need as well as the board. I ask them to consider both sets of principles and devotion in this situation. The undermined Chief, and the protection of their community.

-- Posted by Hugh Lovett on Tue, Mar 15, 2011, at 12:43 PM

only problem i see with all this is where is the other side of the story because i all i see is one side and in my life time i have learned there are always 2 sides to a story and the truth is right about the middle of it

-- Posted by liljohnny on Tue, Mar 15, 2011, at 12:54 PM

Never been a firefighter, but I do know something about having to trust the members of the team to do the right thing at the right time because your life depends upon it. There is no place in the Marines for a person who cannot be trusted with your very life and I don't think there is in firefighting or law enforcement, either.

I served with both men and women and the women did their duty the same as the guys. Today, when someone yells "perimeter breach" or whatever is the current alert signal, everyone grabs a weapon regardless of gender.

The firefighter that was removed and then reinstated was so far in the wrong I have to wonder about the decision to reinstate him. Just what was the reasoning? Sounds awful fishy to me, but obviously was not made by a person who is at risk when the chips are down and sparks are flying.

-- Posted by Leo L. Southworth on Tue, Mar 15, 2011, at 6:25 PM

One asked what keeps other public service employees from doing the same thing on a bad day/ Probably the paycheck, as you will note they were all volunteers. Sometimes volunteers get taken for granted by the community at large.

-- Posted by exhoosier2 on Wed, Mar 16, 2011, at 7:13 AM

I agree with EXHOOSIER2 and LEO .. as a person who has proudly served, you MUST be able to completely trust other members of the "team".

The decision to reinstate this "ousted" fire fighter dissolves the cohesiveness and trust in the team.

From MY perspective, it would be akin to working alongside someone who drinks or abuses drugs on the job. Would you put your life in their hands?

Before we criticize their decision, spend a little time volunteering for an (often) thankless job.

-- Posted by Emmes on Thu, Mar 17, 2011, at 12:03 PM

We seem to be getting off track from the subject, but in every job field there are those that are taken for granted or at least feel that way, that isn't uncommon. Being a public servant may make you more vulnerable to that thanklessness. In a broader sense, there are obvious obligations in employment that are connected in the truest form to the compensation you receive for your labor. Without proper compensation "dedication" can eventually become a fair-weather feeling.

-- Posted by Hugh Lovett on Thu, Mar 17, 2011, at 12:44 PM

There goes Southworth again. Seems he knows it all about everything. Probably getting a job would help keep him busy.....

-- Posted by Diana on Thu, Mar 17, 2011, at 5:10 PM

DIANA, I'm glad we agree on LEO's level of intellect, and he's obviously led an interesting life. When his memoirs are published, he may honor you with one of the first autographed copies!

That said .. the topic is the Poland Fire Department. Try to keep up.

-- Posted by Emmes on Sun, Mar 20, 2011, at 8:40 PM

Ther have been alot of questions asked on this topic,here are a few answers. This was a decision that was very hard to make for all of the firefighters, they had tried to go thru the proper channels to get this resolved. The board had told them this person would leave and not come back. 6 weeks later he was put right back in his former position. Unlike paid public employees, they do not have unions or representation of any type to hear their disputes, THE TERRITORY BOARD is the only place for them to go.This Board made it clear, that they don't want to do the job they had been appointed to.

The Firefighters give not only time to the community, they give a part of themselves. They train on their own time,sacrifice family and even income to do a job without asking for anything. When you are sleeping at 3 in the morning they are responding to a scene because a drunk decided to drive and crashed into another car filled with kids coming home from a dance. They put their lives on the line when your house catches on fire, not knowing if they will be going home.

This what THEY DO. All they want is a place to do the job they have chosen that is free from the constant harrasment and degrading remarks constantly being forced on them by one individual. If you think this is just a political stunt, you should hang out at the station when this person is there, then you would understand. The Firefighters have lost not only a way to help the people of the community,but feel they have been betrayed by THE BOARD that is supposed to be looking out for them and you.The Firefighters haven't turned their backs on YOU, the BOARD did. The BOARD heard all of the individuals speak of the problems they were facing,the females involved came forward and told the BOARD, face to face, what was going on.It seems to me that the BOARD feels this one individual is more important than the safe working environment for the Firefighters and PROTECTING YOU. What do they have to hide? By the way there is a BOARD meeting on the 23rd of this month at 7pm at the POLAND FIRE DEPT.This is aPUBLIC meeting, if you want answers, I urge you to attend.

-- Posted by peacemaker1 on Mon, Mar 21, 2011, at 9:05 AM

I am the former Chief of Poland Fire. And I can assure you that I havent turned my back on anyone. My phone number is available to anyone who wants to speak about these matters. I have made arrangements with local fire chiefs to assure the community has coverage. I have also given my number to the Cunot Senior apartments so they can contact me direct. I have served this community for ten years now, not only as a Firefighter and Fire Chief, but as a public servant in several different agencies. I hope that this issue can be resolved so we as public servants can get back to doing what we love and that is serving the community. At the current time I havent heard anything from the board or township trustees. It is in the hands of the board and the community to stand up and tell the board what they truly want.

Stan Frank

-- Posted by poland900 on Mon, Mar 21, 2011, at 9:58 AM

Good Luck Stan and the rest of the firefighters. I hope you get the resolution that would serve the community best so we can lay this to rest and start to regain the faith and trust in "The Board", along with your Madame Trustee.

-- Posted by Proud of My Country on Tue, Mar 22, 2011, at 8:51 AM

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