Brothers & Sisters
As we enter 2014, the Executive Board of Local 3666 hopes everyone had a joyous holiday season and Happy New Year! The Local has seen many changes occur in DFRS during 2013. Traveling around the county and working in different stations, discussions usually are focused on these changes. In the beginning of the year we were looking at losing several positions because of the limitations from the fire tax districts. Though we lobbied to keep a designated fire tax, the BoCC followed the volunteers request to move everything into the General Fund. The change in budget means we now bring the money generated from the fire taxes into the General Fund. But, we also have to fight other departments for the same money. This just makes it necessary for us to pay closer attention to how the budget is developed.
This year also finally brought the completion of the ordinance process creating a county fire chief. The previous BoCC entertained the process. But weren’t willing to start the process before leaving office. The current BoCC as part of their evaluation of Frederick County Government saw the need for change. Chief Owens worked to create a process which moved the ordinance forward. Unfortunately, during the final stages of the process, Chief O resigned for personal reasons. Chief O as the leader of DFRS made many changes that were positive moving forward the county fire service forward. Last year at this time I joked about being on timeout. But I respected Chief O and thank him for his efforts to better this department.
In June, the BoCC did a nationwide search for a new fire chief. Many felt with an election year coming up not many people would apply because of the uncertainty and election year brings. As a division, we have been used to constant change at the top of the division. As the process was occurring, Commissioner Young asked us to provide a member for the interview board. Our member would not have a vote on the decision, but be a consultant to help with the decision. This was a first for us. The Local has never sat on the fire chief interview board. I asked Chris Mutchler to be our representative. Commissioner Young and County Manager Depies appreciated Brother Mutchlers’ insight during the interview process.
By July, we had a new Chief. Chief Pouget hit the ground running. In preparing for this change Comm. Young and County Manager Depies looked to Local 3666 for our opinion about moving forward. The Local supported giving the new chief the ability to bring in her own team. For months, I spoke about the change effective July 1, 2013. At times, I felt like a broken record. But the statements were true! This Local realized after July 1st a whole new way of doing business was in the works. The “Fire Chief” was now in charge. Creating one service instead of individual services across the county was moving forward. It is better for the service and better for the citizens. Limitations of the Fire Tax Districts were gone. But opportunities being in the “General Fund” would limit the budget issues. It came out the chief would have a “blank check”. This statement wasn’t true. But what is true is that the chief and her executive staff are to develop a plan for this year and future years. The goal was to look at the service, plan for change and work to create a plan to implement the change. This is a huge positive in moving the division forward and serving the citizens.
Like any change not everything has been positive. We are seeing changes that may not be to everyone’s liking. When those changes have occurred, this Local has worked to address them. This did create some tension with the new management. But communication is the key to everything. We are past the shaky start, communication is better. We are still working on changing the negatives to positives. But overall we are building a working a relationship. We didn’t get to this point overnight, so relax better things are coming.
The events above are more of the main events of this past year. We have had other events that were not as major or affected everyone. We were able to bring back the MDA fundraiser “Fill the Boot” and sell T-shirts for the Hurwitz Fund. Both community events are positive PR events. I know there were many small events over the year which I am passing over. But the most significant one for this Local besides the change of management and management structure was the Line of Duty Death of Brother Kevin Jenkins. Kevin fought a long hard battle. In the end our efforts over the last two years of Kevins life, we were able to ensure his family received a paycheck twice a month. Finalize his retirement with the county. Making sure Sam and Ashley receive his pension check. Many of you helped out over the past two years in his fight against cancer. Everyone who stepped up and covered shifts, helped Sam and Ashley in their time of need, or sat by him during his final days. This show of support to Kevin and his family, fueled his desire to fight. This is what a Local does for one of it’s own when they are in need.
Finally, I want to provide some goals I still would like to attain in moving this Local forward:
- Continue to build our history and strengthen the meaning of “Brotherhood and Sisterhood” in regards to the membership of this Local. We have a history. Many of you don’t know it. But every day we create a new history page and/or chapter. Currently, we have a way of recognizing our history:
- Retiree Gala – This will be the third year we are holding this event. As I stated before, I am looking to build our history and “brotherhood” there is no better way than to show our thanks to our retirees. Everyone of them has at some point affected your employment. Yes these interactions could have been good or bad. But you LEARNED something from it. In addition, they are the ones who were apart of DFRS in the early years. They have helped in different ways to build the foundation which started our history. In addition, Chief Owens will be attending. This will be a good opportunity to show our
“Thanks” for what he accomplished as Chief. Please make plans to attend on Saturday, February 8, 2014.
- Improve our communications and website – If you haven’t visited the website it has a new look. There is even a phone app if you view it on your mobile device. We need your help in gaining information and statistics to fight for jobs. Plus have a place to get information out. The new website has some features which will hopefully assist in this process. Brothers Rossomondo and Webb are heading up the website. If you are interested in helping please contact them.
- Purchase our own Union Hall: Over the years we have talked about it. We currently have some opportunities to make this happen. At the September 2013 meeting, a building committee was established. Over the past month we have been looking at properties. I would like to see us pursue this while the current interest rates are low. Stay tuned for an email on our progress.
- Benevolent Fund: As we grow in numbers, unfortunately we will have brothers and sisters who will need our help. That is one of the functions of this Union. We are to look out for each other. This Local has stepped up quietly in different ways to help out our own. Recently, the executive board learned after Brother Jenkins death an issued occurred regarding his life insurance through the county. His wife was going to use those funds to pay for his funeral. Local 3666 executive board designated the money to cover this cost. A bill the family had not expected to pay. This is what a benevolent fund is to do. We are currently getting information from other locals so we can get a fund established. Below is another chance for us all to quietly step up and help out one of our own.
- Brother Rentzell – If you have been visiting our website, you have seen the current health issues his wife and son are having. His home is in need of repairs to make it handicap accessible and build a wheelchair ramp. The Local 3666 executive board has agreed to step up and pay for the supplies to do this. We need some brothers and sisters willing to help make it happen. If you are interested in helping or even leading the project, contact Brother Rossomondo or myself.
- County Executive Election: If you have been paying attention, this year Frederick County switches to Charter Government on December 1st. That also means it is an election year. In the last election, we were successful in getting 3 of our endorsed County Commissioner candidates elected. Currently, the County Executive election is gearing up to be a battle. We became a player in the last election. We need to step up again in this election. The PAC fund is established enough to financially make a difference. But we also need people to help us solidify this difference. It will take every one of us to help get our candidate elected. I realize that many of our members don’t live in the Frederick County. But that doesn’t stop other larger locals with members in the same situation from participating in elections. We live the fire service every shift. We are the best ones to be out there answering the publics questions. You do not need to be a county resident to hand out flyers, put up signs or help with a fundraiser. It takes commitment in making sure a candidate who supports us gets elected. This Local needs everyone to help make this election successful.
THIS IS YOUR UNION! IN ORDER FOR IT TO BE SUCCESSFUL! YOU NEED TO PARTICIPATE!