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tbs222 t1_j7itcp1 wrote

Found this interesting:

>On Friday, Kavanagh read a biting statement to the 20 or so top department chiefs gathered, suggesting she was highly dissatisfied with department leadership in recent weeks.

>“Over the last eight weeks, since we’ve made some changes, many requests have made it to my office,” the commissioner said. “Requests for vehicles, requests for promotions, requests for something that served the bottom line of a single person here in the room.

>“What has not come to my desk is a plan to make our members safer,” Kavanagh fumed. “What has not come to my desk is a plan to reduce fire deaths in the Bronx, which are spiking.

>What has not come to my desk is a plan to purchase our next [self-contained breathing apparatuses]. What has not come to my desk with a list of things our members could use to get their jobs done better,” she said.

>“What has not come to my desk is a list of things to bring into bargaining to pay our members more. Not a single idea of what would help the membership and the citizens of New York has made it to my desk.”


felixrojo t1_j7j3aoa wrote

There was a since deleted comment asking about her ability to serve as Fire Commissioner given her lack of firefighting experience.

This has come up quite a bit in light of this story and I think some of this rhetoric is because she is a woman with leadership and governmental experience who is now in charge of a department that, at least on the fire suppression side, is predominantly male. This wasn't a broad based concern when either Howard Safir or Nicholas Scopetta served as Fire Commissioners (neither of them was a firefighter either).

Also, she didn't just come in off of the street and become the commissioner, she's been working for the department for almost 9 years in management roles.


Prime_Exposures t1_j7sd0al wrote

It has nothing to with her being female, nor is is it solely about her lack of experience as a firefighter. It is possible to be an effective manager without having the same experience as those you lead. But a good leader would rely on the experience and input of their staff (the Chief of Department and other chiefs in this case). What a good leader would NOT do is is go behind their staff’s back and make changes to the personnel who work directly for that staff. It’s leadership 101, which she obviously missed.


FormerKarmaKing t1_j7k6ai2 wrote

No doubt there is some sexism at play in the response.

But if her credentials are solely being a professional managers - and not being “one of us” - then unexpectedly demoting three top members of the in-group at once and also publicly painting them as uncaring about their subordinates at the same time is terrible professional management / internal politics.

As much as anything, firing (or demoting people) is as much about how everyone left perceives you as a leader. When it must be done, it should be evident to everyone that it had to happen. Coming off as capricious when playing with other peoples careers / cash flow is going to cause big problems, as it has here.

Edit: lol at downvotes for suggesting that publicly humiliating people is bad management. Might be good politics but it’s bad bad management.


lovelyangelgirl t1_j7jnf1q wrote

But I think that’s valid though. You should have some firefighting experience as commissioner.

Imagine the Chief of Defense but with no military background. Makes no sense.

It’s not about gender, it’s about experience.

I feel like she’s projecting on to others.


ChrisFromLongIsland t1_j7k5rkf wrote

The secretary of defense of the US many times has not served in the military.


Prime_Exposures t1_j7sdz6g wrote

But what would happen if the Secretary of Defense arbitrarily removed senior army generals without conferring with the Sec of Army or the Chief of Staff of the Army?? There’s a chain of command and it works both ways.


lovelyangelgirl t1_j7kitnq wrote

Shouldn’t that be a prerequisite though?


hjablowme919 t1_j7kmvxe wrote

Not really. In positions like that, it's about decision making. The people who work for you provide you all of the information they can about a particular issue, or issues, and you use that information to make decisions.

If she was in management in the NYFD for almost a decade, she knows what the problems are and what needs to be addressed. What she needs from the people who work for her and suggestions as to how best to address those issues. From her speech, it doesn't look like she is getting that support.


Slggyqo t1_j7k4nf3 wrote

The President of the United States is the Commander in Chief of the US armed forces. He is not required to be a veteran.

Franklin’s D Roosevelt, one of Americas most famous wartime presidents, did not serve. Most Presidents who did serve were not senior positions, i.e. anything remotely close to being commander in chief.

Biden, Trump, Obama, and Clinton did not serve.

The secretary of defense—basically next in responsibility under the President—must be out of military service for at least seven years to be appointed to the position.

This system of civilian control over the military is the global standard.

“On the ground” experience as a management official in a large organization is just a merit badge to make someone a more appealing candidate. It has little bearing on their actual job, because no senior official can actually have a useful working knowledge of everything their organization does.

It’s not completely pointless—your public image being a pretty important part of being a public figure—but it’s not a critical requirement.


Dont_mute_me_bro t1_j7k7ov2 wrote

A school principal who hasn't taught in a classroom has to overcome suspicions of being out of touch from the rank and file. The same is true for a lieutenant in the military. There's a culture in departments. You may not like the fact or the culture in general, but it's true.


Slggyqo t1_j7l065p wrote

There is a culture, but I agree with everything you said but it’s not particularly relevant.

A school principal or lieutenant in the military is a MUCH more tactical role than that of a department commissioner. They are themselves boots on the ground personnel.

The commissioner of the NYFD (and the NYPD) is a civilian administrator, deliberately separate from the department, whose job is set strategic priorities with the advice of their senior officers.

Regarding culture, there are as many reasons to have leadership from outside of the culture as there are to have leadership beholding to the existing culture.


Dont_mute_me_bro t1_j7lmc5k wrote

They're about to have no leadership. Top dogs are stepping down and there's no one keen in replacing them according to the article. How is that helping anyone but the egomaniac Commissioner?


[deleted] t1_j7j9ft2 wrote

You know why it’s predominantly male? Because 99% of women cannot carry a 200 lbs person in a fire. Let the women pass the same physical test and we are cool! Also most girls don’t say they want to be a fireman when they grow up.

Fire doesn’t discriminate based on genders


AgainstMedicalAdvice t1_j7kvuui wrote

So why can't a woman work in a managerial role? Very likely her job will not entail moving people.

Also, I wonder if more women could be firefighters if Americans weren't such fatties :(


FastFingersDude t1_j7k9n3b wrote

Good. We need more straight talk to keep these departments working properly, for citizens.


yasth t1_j7kpb4b wrote

I mean do people have a lot of complaints about the fire department? Other than parking issues (which seems nowhere near as bad as the PD), I don't see much.


FastFingersDude t1_j7kuadj wrote

Tons of racism and misogyny reported (not an expert, just what I’ve seen in headlines).

Also, pretty clear lack of strategic thinking? (At least from what is converted in the article).


Die-Nacht t1_j7m005v wrote

As a street safety advocate, my main complaint with the FDNY (besides the placard abuse) is their trucks. They're too large. We've seen that fire trucks do not need to be that large, look at fire trucks in Tokyo, for example. Other cities around the world have already switched to smaller, cheaper fire trucks.

Why do I care about that? Because we end up having to make a lot of our streets way wider than they have to be, which encourages speeding and makes it more dangerous. And every time we bring this up to DOT, they tell us "we can't do that, because a fire truck needs to be able to make that turn".

Additionally, those massive trucks are made on special chassis. This means they are WAY more expensive than they need to be.


In_fact_its_me t1_j7m1ljm wrote

Sounds like possible financial abuse to. Leaving people on medical leave for years etc


AlarmedCoffee7422 t1_j7n1ayx wrote

incredibly likely, one of the departments I know of would keep known alcoholics on the job but just shove them in office jobs, where they’d be useless drunks and rot for the rest of the years taking up taxpayers dollars.


This27that t1_j7r0bso wrote

Can’t speak specifically about Japanese fire trucks, but European fire trucks are similarly small. They are small because they were restricted to fit their pre-existing tighter streets.

European ladder trucks are much smaller than American trucks, but they don’t have the same ability to flow water that American trucks do.

American streets, including most of New York City’s, are typically at least a little wider, which is why our trucks have been able to grow to the sizes they have. Our trucks have grown and gained certain capabilities as a result.

The ability to flow water from aerial and tower ladders, due to their reach and capabilities, has saved countless buildings throughout the city and the country. These ladders can put a significant volume of water where humans can’t reach and when it’s not safe to put humans in the building.

So Japan and Europe may have smaller fire trucks, but they do not have the same capabilities American fire trucks do.

Bigger fire trucks therefore offer superior fire protection. Furthermore, European buildings are typically made of more non combustible materials (possibly why they get by without ladders designed to flow water), while combustible buildings are prolific throughout New York City and the rest of the country.


Die-Nacht t1_j7rc8dc wrote

Europe and Asia have massive cities with massive buildings just like NYC (in fact, even bigger). And they're doing just fine. In fact, they are doing better than fine. Not only can they afford more equipment since their trucks are cheaper, but their streets are also safer and more livable (which saves money on healthcare costs).

Cities in the US are already starting to wake up to this. DC is already testing way smaller fire trucks and many small municipalities around the country (due to budget issues) just started using modified pickup trucks.

The reason our fire trucks are so damn large is that we let them. They were originally based on military vehicles, which makes no sense. I heard a rumor that NYC may start to look at the smaller trucks (as well as no use the massive ones for every single little thing) but I haven't heard much news on that front.

We currently live in an era where fire departments are closed due to budget cuts, as well as a traffic safety crisis that's pretty much only happening in the US. We can get two birds with one stone by getting smaller (and cheaper) fire trucks and shrinking our streets.


This27that t1_j7rxbls wrote

The size of the buildings isn’t the problem (in fact once they’re over ~100’ ladders are just about worthless). The problem is what the buildings are made of. European buildings are typically made of non combustible materials like concrete and steel, which means firefighters can rely on the building to protect them while they are inside and fight the fire. The building isn’t on fire, just the contents inside.

NYC also has a ton of very tall noncombustible buildings, but that’s not why it needs large ladder trucks. NYC needs larger ladder trucks because it also has an enormous stock of combustible buildings that don’t offer the same protection. Once the fire gets to a certain size and the structure itself is burning (and the fire is burning in concealed combustible spaces), it can become unsafe for firefighters to stay in the building to fight it. You can let the building burn down at that point or attack it with large-volume streams. Nothing does that better than a tower ladder. European trucks simply can’t do this (and they don’t often have to!).

DC has a similar building stock to NYC, so I’ll believe that they’re switching to smaller trucks when I see it. What they may do is switch to electric vehicles, but I doubt they are ever going to give up large order trucks. The truck in that link is a fire engine, which is different than a ladder truck.

And I would like to see a source on the departments that are starting to use modified pick up trucks. They may be using them for non-structural fire responses like brush fires, medical calls, etc, to save on fuel, while leaving the bigger trucks back at the station. But when a structure fire hits, I’d bet they still roll out the bigger trucks.

NYC may start using smaller trucks for non-fire responses as well, but the streets will still have to accommodate the bigger trucks because they will still be needed for fires.

Lastly, fire trucks are not originally based on military vehicles. You can trace their origins all the way back to the mid-1800s and see them slowly evolve, getting bigger and bigger as capabilities and available tools expanded.


Prime_Exposures t1_j7sp3dt wrote

I would say that the size of the building does in fact matter, especially of non-fireproof construction. A fire in a 3 story wood frame, rescues can be facilitated from portable extension ladders (and you typically see such in the more “residential” outer boroughs.). Once you exceed 4 stories though, portable ladders are ineffective for the roof and upper floors.
Then let’s downsize the trucks in those areas of the city,easy enough right? Not so much. The fire department is built on redundancy and the ability to interchange units throughout the city. A truck in Queens could quite easily wind up responding to a fire in the South Bronx.


This27that t1_j80li1a wrote

Yes size of the building does matter. I was trying to explain that my point was that we have differently built buildings, not taller buildings


Die-Nacht t1_j7s79yu wrote

You keep really trying to drive this "building materials" point. Do you have any source that Europe and Asia just build their stuff from better materials and that that's the reason we need bigger trucks?

I've researched this topic a bit and I've never heard that excuse. The only excuse I've found for why they are so big in the US is just that the streets are wide, and since they are wide, there's no reason to make them smaller. Now, with cities having budget issues, there may be a financial incentive to go smaller.

This article goes over the differences:

They mention the "aerial trucks" and make the point that one difference between the US and Europe is the methodology. Over there, they focus on rescues, not so much on fighting the fires. I could see that being a major difference.

Regardless of the reason, we need to find a way to make them smaller. We can't keep our streets as wide as they currently are, too many ppl are getting hurt.


This27that t1_j814wke wrote

No source necessarily. Just anecdotal discussions I’ve had.

Regardless of the building materials issue, our trucks are more versatile than theirs are. This is probably because they have been restricted (by their narrow roads) to smaller trucks that therefore have less capabilities. If they had room for our trucks, I’m sure they’d be using them.

Other than the safety issue you mention, there is no reason for us to go backwards and start using less capable, smaller trucks.

And in terms of that “methodology,” I don’t think European departments are more focused on rescues, just that they can only use their ladder trucks for rescue and not for fighting fire. They are restricted to using the trucks only for rescue—it’s not a choice.

As for the safety issue on the streets, there are plenty of options to make them safer other than making them smaller. The city can add speed bumps; they can use roundabouts; they can add speed cameras. Reducing the size of fire trucks is not the only option.


AlarmedCoffee7422 t1_j7mzxxm wrote

I can promise you that if people actually investigated the FDNY, your main complaint wouldn’t be parking. All fire departments need to be investigated— at this point people are ok with overlooking fire departments because they’re not cops, but I can tell you right now firefighters get away with heinous shit because of their close relationship with the police. Firefighters that say “yea fuck the police we’re not them!!!!” still probably get off with a slap on the wrist for issues (i.e. drunk driving) that would put them in serious trouble


Prime_Exposures t1_j7sexjn wrote

What happens as NYC continues to add protected bike lanes throughout the boroughs, especially in areas where there are older non-fireproof buildings?? The ladder trucks are now forced to take a position further from the building, necessitating current or longer ladder lengths. And in a vertical city, where new buildings are regularly increasing in height, larger pumps are required to create enough pressure to supply water to those upper floors.


Die-Nacht t1_j7sg0aq wrote

Somehow this is not an issue in Europe and Asia, where they have even older buildings, and even taller newer ones.


Prime_Exposures t1_j7sjenj wrote

Can you provide a reference for the typical construction type of a six story apartment building in Europe? I am not versed in their standards. I do understand though that an overwhelming number of 6-7 story apartment buildings in NYC are considered class 3 non-fireproof (typically brick exterior with wood structural components). These buildings do not require (and thus often do not have) any sort of interior fire protection such as sprinklers. Additionally the stairways are often open and also non-fireproof. A fire can be on a lower floor, but if the apartment door is left open then the stairway acts as a chimney. People on the floors above are not going to be able to get down those stairs (Jan 2022 fire in the Bronx is a tragic example, and that building was fire-resistant with enclosed stairways). And that’s just discussing smoke, let alone fire spreading via open spaces between wooden floors and beams. If you want smaller fire trucks, then you would need to change code and require all non-fireproof multiple dwelling buildings to install sprinklers, and possibly enclose their stairways. Building owners and their lobbyists would never allow it.

And I emphasize 6-7 story buildings for comparison. A 35 foot aluminum extension ladder would probably suffice at most 2-3 story buildings. But for 6-7 stories you’re going to need something vehicle mounted and hydraulically operated (7 stores = 70’ minimum roofline. Now factor the angle/hypotenuse and it’s easily 100’ ladder required from the curb line.)


Die-Nacht t1_j7sknac wrote

> Can you provide a reference for the typical construction type of a six story apartment building in Europe?

I cannot. Because I'm not a construction expert. All I know is that Europe and Asia has older cities, with older buildings, which I'm sure aren't up to code, as well as newer, taller buildings than what we have. And yet, they managed to figure out how not to use expensive, massive trucks. So I don't buy the whole "old buildings that aren't up to code" or "massive newer towers" are real excuses.

I'm no expert, like I said, I'm just a street safety advocate that's annoyed that we have such dangerous streets because we need to keep them do damn wide. So we should be figuring out how to make them smaller, to save lives (not just from fires) and money.


Prime_Exposures t1_j7snml3 wrote

As a cyclist I can understand your sentiment. Unfortunately it can not be realized in NYC until all 5-7 story non-fireproof buildings are razed.


MysteriousHedgehog23 t1_j7m53dz wrote

“When you’re used to privilege you think equality is oppression.”

Just like the military, FDNY has civilian leadership. The reason for that set up is so that the decisions that are made are in the best interest of the civilians they serve, not what’s in the best interest of the uniform forces themselves.

History has proven over and over that this is the correct set up. This situation is more evidence. Good riddance to anyone who thinks them and 3 of their friends leaving means the FDNY will fall apart.


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oy_says_ake t1_j7ls43m wrote

Edit - replied to main post instead of comment.


[deleted] t1_j7kyma8 wrote



oy_says_ake t1_j7lsb4i wrote

You have zero basis for speculation about whether or not gender bias is part of the chiefs’ resistance to kavanaugh’s leadership, but you’re happy to immediately rule it out? Okay sure buddy.


mermie1029 t1_j7n1set wrote

She offered them the option to immediately retire or get demoted. That’s why they chose the demotion


Turbulent_Link1738 t1_j7it14v wrote

What a bunch of babies. “No one wants to be a firefighter” what? That’s one of the most desirable jobs in the city. $100,000 a year with no special training required to get hired and you get to be a literal hero. All the benefits cops get with none of the hate.


Grass8989 t1_j7itvum wrote

You have to score extremely highly on the test to get called and then pass the CPaT to get hired. Then you have to go through and pass the academy which isn’t a cakewalk by any stretch of the imagination. I wouldn’t call that “no special training”.


This27that t1_j7r0t15 wrote

That training comes after you get hired. You need no special training to get hired, at which point you will be given the special training.

Many departments in other parts of the country require you to be fully trained before they even consider you for employment.


Grass8989 t1_j7r4w9i wrote

Right but the cPat is pass or fail, you get one practice and one actual run at it. I’m sure in the departments that require you to have the training before hand you have a lot more chances of passing the required training.


This27that t1_j7rxzqv wrote

In the departments that require you to have training beforehand, they don’t give you any training (other than orientation, etc, that you’d get in any job). I think the OP’s “no special training” just meant no training in firefighting or having to know anything about the job.

The CPAT can be tough but if you’re physically fit, anyone can pass it. You don’t need to know firefighting stuff. They tell you what to do.


Turbulent_Link1738 t1_j7ivqfx wrote

My brother doesn’t have a full college degree and was processing for FDNY. He rescinded his application after passing their physical tests. Scoring high on a test doesn’t require particularly high intelligence it just requires planning and time management


Grass8989 t1_j7j2t0l wrote

If you mess up on 1 question you risk the chance of not scoring high enough on the test to get called.


doodle77 t1_j7kdpfn wrote

That just means it's one of the most desirable jobs, since they call people in score order. It says nothing about the difficulty or appropriateness of the test.


jay5627 t1_j7kh0r5 wrote

The test is a screener. You learn a lot in training. It's not a hard concept to grasp


AgainstMedicalAdvice t1_j7kwepn wrote

Don't you get paid during fire academy?

I think he's saying it requires no special schooling to apply for the job. You don't need a graduate/masters/anything.... And any education/experience people do have is just a result of the applicant pool being so competitive.

In short: he's absolutely right.


doodle77 t1_j7klsur wrote

And if the screener was pass/fail rather than calling people in score order, we'd have more candidates than we could possibly train. It's a very desirable job and it doesn't take any special experience or education to be called for training.


Dont_mute_me_bro t1_j7kna8m wrote

....And you get to run into burning buildings. 343 of them were slaughtered on 9/11. You insult their memory and legacy with such puerile jive.


1600hazenstreet t1_j7irkkz wrote

Can’t say the city isn’t going down in flames.