Dear Editor,

Re: Nov. 30 Fire department hiccups

This article is so misleading to the public as there are no “hiccups”, rather a serious breakdown and threat to public safety. Over the last year, the fire department has lost a fire chief, assistant fire chief and numerous other paid staff members. Why do you think the fire chief abandoned the department, because the board of commissioners were too difficult to deal with and would not let him manage the department.

Last on, an experienced firefighter came forward and explained why he left the MVFD with a long list of serious issues within the department. The Mineral County Fire Department is seriously broken, mismanaged and failing. Every time someone tries to fix it, they get slapped down by the county board. The sad part is, someone is going to have to die and the state will have to come in and force fix the severely broken department. So now the residents are sitting ducks and we have to wait for something major to happen before the beyond broken department is fixed.

Making the excuse of “hiccups” is simple a cover up and its too bad the residents and taxpayer are buying it.

Christine Smith

via the Independent-News website

Dear Editor,

With your Nov. 30 Fire Department Hiccups article in mind…

There is a difference between sour grapes and reporting accurately on conditions. I am not complaining because I wasn’t hired as long as you realize that the hiring authority can hire anyone they want. But that doesn’t make the hiring decision legal or ethical. More about that point shortly.

I am the second out of state person who applied for the fire chief position with Mineral County. Of course by now you know I did not get a job offer. Perhaps you have since watched a video tape all the interviews. As you don’t normally do HR interviews I wouldn’t expect you to know how to evaluate someone (experience, education, and training) for suitability for any position.

Elected officials don’t usually have the expertise to do hiring either but they do well appointing people they like and that is why governmental agencies are supposed to have Human Resources/Personnel department staff. Yet, even if you don’t have HR expertise you might still have a good feeling who was best qualified for the job as long you knowingly did not hire or appoint someone you liked over their merit or qualifications for the position.

Mind you when it comes to hiring the definition of the word qualified means whatever the hiring agency wants it to mean. That is where discrimination and bias in the hiring process can rear its ugly head. And that is exactly how the person with less merit (experience, education and training) gets the job. If they like you, or they want you, it doesn’t what you do have. If they don’t like you, or don’t want you, it doesn’t matter what you do have. The interview panel and hiring authority only gives points for what they want to give points for. Nowadays, hiring discrimination and bias is disguised in the non-hire letter you get in the mail or your e mail in box as we have selected another applicant who better meets our needs.

Unto that end you must remember that across the nation the hiring/appointment of a fire chief is a political decision. And you already have seen just how crazy politics can be when combined with hiring.  The sad part is that merit has no part in the hiring of a fire chief unless merit is the deciding factor in the selection of the person to be hired. When the latter happens the citizens get short changed.

I just learned that at another fire department that I applied for the fire chief position with the powers that be hired a 27 year volunteer firefighter to be their new full-time fire chief. That new chief was a full-time school teacher. I did not even get an invitation for an interview with that agency. Therefore, the powers that be preselected the school teacher to be their next fire chief even before the job announcement was created. I think the Mineral County Commissioners did the same thing and their behavior leads me in that conclusion. Oh, I have done fire investigations so I can back up that claim but I am not the person or agency to investigate or validate that claim. And that leads right back to the statement that the hiring authority can hire or appoint anyone they want to but it doesn’t make that hiring decision legal or ethical.

Something else to remember that with volunteer or mostly volunteer fire departments (combo), and other volunteer organizations is that they tend to be volunteer eccentric. That is the culture of the organization is focused on the volunteers; most anything and everything revolves around the firefighters and not the public which they are supposed to be serving. Add to that volunteer firefighters tend to lack experience (more than just doing time), education and effective training. In other words, they don’t know what they don’t know.

Because I have strong background (full-time and volunteer) experience, five degrees (3 AS, 1 BS and 1 MS) as well as numerous professional certifications (aka wallpaper) the powers that be tend to fear me. I make informed decisions mostly and can back them up while volunteers and people at the minimum qualifications level tend to make emotional uneducated decisions. If you think about it that is spooky thought.  My education has taught me that I know what I don’t know and I am not afraid to say that. On the other hand I do know where to go to learn what I don’t know.

In any event some people have no business being a fire chief managing fire/life safety and EMS. Just being a firefighter for any length of time alone doesn’t make you qualified to be a leader and a manager of a fire department. Otherwise, people get promoted just for doing time. Oh yeah, that statement also applies to both volunteer and career firefighters too.

Thank you

Tom Dominguez