The MAIN LINE is the official publication of the San Francisco Fire Fighters’ Local 798. Opinions expressed in this publication are not necessarily those of Local 798 or the San Francisco Fire Department. Members are welcome to submit Letters or Articles for publication; however the Editorial Board reserves the right to review/edit any submitted material.
The Usual Self Righteous Rhetoric
By Mark Sikora
“I have found some of the best reasons I ever had for remaining at the bottom simply by looking at the men at the top.” – Frank Kolby, The Kolby Essays 1926

Second Street Shuffle?

Just when we were ready to break into a chorus of “…meet the new boss, same as the old boss…” the Chief throws us a little curve. It seems that Chief Trevino is trying to make some changes in the hierarchy of the SFFD. We hope that it is not a case of too little too late. We will wait and see if the new faces can make some significant changes or if they will just work on padding their own resumes for their next chiefs job or federal appointment as seems to be the case now.

Administrative Yoga or How Do You Get Your Head Up There?

Enough with the butt kissing, let’s get on with the complaining. Just who made those provisional appointment decisions? The buck has to stop at the top with Chief Trevino. We will give him the benefit of the doubt and assume he got some bum advice from some other Chiefs though. Since the Chief has not been here long enough to know all the players (and with frequent trips out of town to teach or attend seminars making it harder still to get to know the home team) he must of looked somewhere for the bum advice.

Before everyone gets all huffy—many people who received provisional appointments were qualified for the move up. Some actually earned the promotion years ago but were passed over. (Earning a promotion being a foreign concept today with no tests, constant threat of lawsuits, etc.) On the other hand, others had no business being offered a promotion. (As of this date rumor has it several people turned down the provisional appointments for varied reasons.)

Offering a promotion to a firefighter who has not reached top step (five years on the job), or who has never gone out at the higher rank, or has minimal firefighting experience, jeopardizes everyone that they will work with, including themselves. Handing someone bugles does not instill them with the skills, knowledge, proficiency, or experience needed to safely lead people into fires, onto roofs, help sick people, or train other firefighters.

Many firefighters from busy companies who have been going out at a higher rank for years were passed over for less experienced firefighters. Why?? Political correctness. What other reason could there be?

Taboo Territory

Let’s get this out in the open now. Ninety nine percent of us don’t give a rats ass what race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, etc. our boss is, the person pulling hose with us down the hallway is, the person cutting a hole in the roof is, etc. (As an aside, amazingly enough, 99% of us actually get along too.) All we care about is that firefighter’s ability to do the damn job. When the Chief promotes anyone for reasons other than being the best qualified candidate, he does a disservice to the entire department, and to the person who is promoted.

Martin Gross, in his book, The End of Sanity, writes that “leadership must flow from individuals, not genders or races, or ethnic groups.” Only when race and gender are thrown out as factors for promotion will everyone be shown the respect that their rank deserves. Until then, we will constantly wonder if our boss earned their higher rank and is capable of doing the job, or was just part of somebody’s political agenda. (Before anyone gets too huffy and starts to label us as sexist, racist, homophobic, anti-Semitic, or whatever other –ist or –ic there is) Plenty of “white males” have taken jobs out of order or that they did not earn also. There, is everyone equally offended and p.o.’d now? (We try to be equal opportunity complainers.)

The Chief’s want more respect from the firefighters?

Simple, show us the respect we deserve. Give us quality leaders, leaders who earn their promotions, leaders with experience, leaders with the skills and knowledge to keep their crews safe. This administration has the power to end much of the bull and pull us out of the quagmire we are in. Please, Chief(s) stay at home and take care of the SFFD. (Maybe the minutes from the Chief’s meeting will stop reading like a third grade conversation, full of I, I, I and me, me, me. I’m starting this committee, I’m in charge of rewriting this, I’m in charge of whatever. Last we checked firefighting was a TEAM job that required bosses who could lead the team, not just pad their own stats. (We apologize for the bad sports analogy.))

H-2’s, Who Needs ‘Em?

We’ve all heard the announcement in the morning. The City is over firefighters, who wants to go home? Weird how when the city is over H-3’s, they just slide them over to a firefighter spot on an engine company instead of sending them home. Better yet, wouldn’t it make sense to put that H-3 in a “one and one” ambulance and put the firefighter from that ambulance onto the engine company that is short?

Remember when the Union (still primarily made up of H-2’s) voted overwhelmingly to pay back into our retirement to save the city money? Since then the SFFD has fattened up its middle management ranks and begun to let H-3’s occupy H-2 spots on the engines. (That’s two H-3s on an Engine, the only H-2 being the driver.) If you don’t stand up and call the Union now, you risk losing your spot permanently. Remember, the Union is there for you. Call them when you believe something is affecting your working conditions.

More Merger Madness

When will the Department and the City let the 2532’s work with H-1 and H-3 medics? It is getting ridiculous when three medics are constantly getting out of the ambulance on calls. Wouldn’t the City be better off with the third medic in another ambulance with an H-3 (maybe the second one off an engine company) or even a rescue captain? The people are in place to have more ambulances on the street (one of the merger goals), so do it.

How much money is it costing to staff ambulances with overtime H-3’s while other H-3’s are working on an engine company that day? Or a third “extra” medic is on a 2532 ambulance? This is/was also turning into a common occurrence. Cost neutral merger our butt. How about two engines, an ambulance and a paramedic captain showing up for a routine call? You have to ask “At what cost?”. Our old chief would be the first to point out that this a “four-drupling” of services. The merger bleeds cash.

More medics should be hitting the streets soon as we continually hire experienced laterals (the question is: are they experienced medics or experienced firefighters? While the skills of the original groups of laterals seem up to par, the newer groups seem to be lacking in paramedic experience. Just an observation, we are sure the Presidio made sure they had the requisite skills for the job…. We almost got that out with a straight face.) The latest class from the Presidio is getting out soon also. Let’s hope they get all the fax (sic) right on the National test. Hate to cheat the City out of more paramedics.


The next drive is set for December 18, 19, 20, 2002. Please make an effort to show up and bring a friend. It is great to see all the same faces every time, but we need more bodies to show up. We have 2000 employees and get only 150 donations each time. Outside of the Toy Program, the Blood Drive has a direct impact on more people than any other Fire Department event. Unfortunately, most of us have relatives or friends who have needed blood. If we don’t donate, the blood will not be there when it is needed.

Please come on down, give up an hour (or five hours) of your day this Holiday Season and donate blood. Raul Francisco is all set to supply more of his outstanding homemade barley and hops recovery fluid for all who come down. It’s great, don’t miss it.

Prop H Passes

We want to give a hearty THANK YOU to the executive board, to Dan Dunningan, and to all who helped out during the campaign for Prop H. Thanks everyone, especially people like Frank Kelly, who worked tirelessly, but does not get to enjoy the reward. It’s that kind of selflessness that makes the SFFD a great place to work.

On the other hand a few people thought it would be a great time to spout off to the Independent about alleged problems in the SFFD. You people make us sick. All you care about is yourselves and your own agendas. There are thousands of people over the years that will benefit from Prop H, and you put your personal problems ahead of that. Pathetic.

More Kudos

Thanks also to John Cheung and John Choy for putting a few of the Independent articles in perspective during public forums. They reminded us what we all know, that it is only a few individuals who continually try to wreck things for all of us. Those people need to be exposed for the frauds that they are.

While we are in such a happy mood, thanks also to the High Rise Committee (belatedly) for a great High Rise drill over the Labor Day weekend. Thanks also to the training officers out at Treasure Island for continuing their efforts to make the SFFD a better department and a safer place to work. Thanks to the guys at BOE who make a great effort to keep our equipment in shape and keep us from changing over. Thanks to all you senior firefighters out there who will be retiring soon, for trying to show us the right way to do the job, even if we don’t always listen. Thanks to the Chiefs out there who look out for the men and women. (Yeah, there are still a few.)

Alright, that’s enough. We hope you and yours have a safe and happy Holiday Season.

(Disclaimer: As usual the opinions, complaints, etc. above in no way reflect the opinions of Local 798, the Executive Board, the editor or publisher of the Main Line or any other entity save the authors. Any complaints, threats, corrections, six packs, or anger should be directed only towards the authors, not Local 798. Thank you.)


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