Helmets and My Stupid Idiotic Chief

Today’s burning questions (yes its plural): Part I: My chief is a complete and total stupid idiot. He refuses to issue me and the other guys that came on with me in my training academy new helmets despite the fact that (1) we have been on the job for 11 years; (2) we have never been issued replacement helmets; (3) NFPA standards require that the helmets be replaced after 10 years; and best of all (4) we know that he knows he is supposed to replace the helmets at the 10 year mark because the moron replaced our turnout gear (coats and pants) just before our 10th anniversary. What can we do?

Part II: My chief is a complete and total stupid idiot. He is insisting that we replace perfectly good fire helmets – helmets that there is absolutely nothing wrong with – just because they are 10 years old. Like everyone else we are struggling for funding and this moron wants to squander money replacing helmets. What can we do?

Answer: I’m staying out of this one. By the way, did you hear what’s going on in FDNY?

About Curt Varone

Curt Varone has over 40 years of fire service experience and 30 as a practicing attorney licensed in both Rhode Island and Maine. His background includes 29 years as a career firefighter in Providence (retiring as a Deputy Assistant Chief), as well as volunteer and paid on call experience. He is the author of two books: Legal Considerations for Fire and Emergency Services, (2006, 2nd ed. 2011, 3rd ed. 2014) and Fire Officer's Legal Handbook (2007), and is a contributing editor for Firehouse Magazine writing the Fire Law column.
  • Andrew

    Don’t blame you at all!

    Maybe one chief has a financial interest in a uniform & equipment supplier, and the other is concerned about the taxpayers?

  • Andrew… of course there must be some ulterior motive… because its the stupid idiotic chief…

  • John W. Varone

    Gee…sounds likes a locker room before roll call. Glad to see the same storyline on the fire side of the house, as it is with us and our vests, leather gear and weapons.

  • Andrew

    Well, I have to admit, MY chief is neither stupid nor idiotic. Nor, for that matter, are any of the other chiefs I know. Our chief, in particular, will buy new gear when needed, or when required, but not just for the halibut. I think my original comment was more the result of 37 years emergency service, both PD and FD/EMS.

    Either way, you were smart enough to stay out of it, and I wasn’t.

  • Andrew – just kidding… don’t take it personally.

    • Andrew

      Oh, I know that.

      Just sorta-kinda like the retirement party scene in “Backdraft”: “you ever wonder why you’re stuck as a permanent lieutenant?”

      ” No”

  • Andrew – you have your finger on a very important problem: there are an awful lot of good/great fire service leaders who don’t want to advance beyond the company level.

    • Andrew

      Not just fire service, but police, EMS and — of course — the private sector. A lot of us have the desire to do the best job possible, and we have the ability (or can acquire it through training or education). What we don’t have is the stomach to sit through some of the political BS that arises as one moves into managerial (or sometimes even supervisory) slots. When I was on the PD, I never wanted a sergeant slot, and after I entered the private sector, I realized it was just as bad there. Now I have a private training company (NOT the one in Florida you wrote about), and work for myself. Yes, my boss can be “stupid” and “idiotic” but now at least I can anticipate when that’s gonna happen.

  • Bob

    If NFPA recommends replacement after 10 years, then it should be replaced. If someone gets injured and the helmet is determined to be the cause, a lawyer will reference NFPA and have a slam-dunk lawsuit that will cost way more than the cost of a new helmet.

  • FOR THE RECORD “complete and total stupid idiot” is a verbatim quote from an email question I received about this very issue. I did receive 2 questions – one pro changing helmets at 10 years, one anti-changing helmets at 10 years. I did paraphrase the rest of the questions.


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