Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Letter From An Insider

This is a letter that I just received from an Observer inside the Arlington Fire Department.  It was too good to post in the comments section so I want you to read it in total in as a completely separate post.

Observer has left a new comment on your post "Ridiculous":

Mr Parker, District 1 and all city residents,

I'm an insider, I know very well both sides of the argument. I, like many, in the department have previous civil service experience. Mr Lengthy Anonymous and other proponents will never change their opinion. I personally believe they have been misled by their ignorant, bias and malicious association (union) leadership, have been disciplined before by our Fire Administration, or lost overtime. Its that simple. That has always been their beef (they would also love to see our chiefs replaced).

If you want to put them on their heels, ask for a public debate on why civil service would be beneficial or detrimental. Demand it. When you see how they react and/or participate, one will know their true motivations.

I've asked, many times for their argument and in their meetings or behind the scenes its because their current executive board cant get along with the chiefs. Many on the eboard have limited or no public management experience, have been disciplined for poor performance or judgement, or have personal vendettas because they cant articulate an proper argument in labor management meetings or in meet and confer meetings.

They think they will get all the benefits, pay, and processes back after a successful election. And what you see happening now with this online debate between Mr Parker and the proponents is what will happen if they win - lengthy debates, arguments and negotiations and law suits to get all the good perks we have now BACK; they want to take local rule away from our locally elected officials and accountable public managers. Why do we need yet another layer of governance (i.e. a commission)? Demand the union to prove their points on unfair disciplines, promotions, and hiring!!! It doesn't exist.

Chapter 143 was first drafted in 1947! It has taken decades for many civil service cities to get where Arlington has been since the 1980s!

Its not about higher standards and no new taxes. Its about local union thugs taken control and taking the department back to the dark ages.

I look forward to your blog on promotions and hiring, ours are state of the art practices and principles that have built our department to be the best around. Just demand and read the department's approval ratings and the annual reports!Its all public info.

Lets debate this openly, bring it one union!

Vote No on Prop 2.


  1. Ask why the union president gets city paid time off to lobby against the city?
    Ask why the same president or his officers represent employees that have been arrested for horrible crimes or broke serious city policies on harassment, retaliation, failure to supervise, and conduct unbecoming. Ask what the outcomes were.
    Ask why this current president is screaming about the city enforcing sick leave policies. Demand the records of leave abuse.
    Ask the union why they want civil service and to justify this in open debate. Where is the proof?
    Compare the city open records to the union rhetoric and the truth lies there.

    Vote no on Prop 2.

  2. Go back to the basics, the Fire Fighter Union needs to revisit their core values and reevaluate their management team. They seem to want to be held less accountable by local tax payers and authority to scapegoat they answer to the state. The tax payers will tell the union how it is, and that is revisit your core values and find a motivated leader, rather than one who has no ground to stand on his argument. Where is the documentation of incidents for their argument since moral as they put it is important to them. Surely there is documentation of incidents. Its is insulting to the fireman, and tax payers that huffing and puffing from a union with no argument to debate is silly behavior, don't insult our intelligence.

  3. You are misguided. The APFF membership voted to do this. City management is onerous and draconian. We are willing to give up benefits for a fair work environment. Council sure liked UPS bringing good paying UNION jobs to the city. Parker sure liked the benefits and working conditions the pilots union earned him for his career. We have no problem being held accountable, and are everyday. Just want management to be held accountable too.


  4. The following was taken directly from the "Vote Yes" website FAQ’s. The information in red/yellow, publicly available, has been included to complete the story…
    What are the EXACT measures for Prop 2?
    "Adoption of the fire fighters' civil service law."
    What is Civil Service?
    The purpose of Civil Service is to secure professional fire departments composed of qualified personnel who are free from political influence. From Chapter 143: “ The purpose of this chapter is to secure efficient fire and police departments composed of capable personnel who are free from political influence; and The text in yellow was omitted by proponents in the purpose statement; and who have permanent employment tenure as public servants”. Its convenient they left the" permanent employment "provision out. In puts in place objective, measurable standard for hiring and promotions. Hiring and promotions will be based upon WHAT you know, not WHO you know.
    Current AFD Hiring starts with a validated written test from a certified consultant group. From there the top 250 candidates with the highest scores proceed to a timed 1.5 mile run. If a candidate passes the run portion, they continue to a “work sample” physical ability test. If the candidate successfully completes the physical ability test, they are then interviewed and rated by panels of Arlington Fire Department members. Based on ratings from these panels, top candidates are selected for the Fire Command Staff interview panel. From this group, the Fire Command Staff interviews and selects the most qualified individuals and then extends conditional job offers pending final employment checks. Those “conditional” candidates undergo additional evaluation, including reference and criminal background checks, health and physical assessments, a drug and alcohol test, and driving record review. If the candidates successfully pass all final employment checks, they begin probationary recruit training at the Arlington Fire Training Center. “Who you know or what you look like”, a quote from President of the firefighters association to his membership in a recent communication has nothing to do with promotions in the AFD.

    AFD Promotions: The goal of the Fire Department's promotional procedure is to provide an equitable and competitive process for members of the Department based on qualifications, personal development, job knowledge, skills, and demonstrated performance. The promotional process provides opportunity to all members who wish to achieve their potential and therefore, provide the Fire Department with the best leadership and service possible.
    Competitive Process: Promotions in the AFD are achieved through a competitive process. All promotions require time in grade, specific certifications and training per rank, along with a satisfactory annual performance evaluation and updated criminal background check. College education points are added to overall test scores. “Who you know or what you look like”, a quote from President of the firefighters association to his membership in a recent communication has nothing to do with promotions in the AFD. FD documents/policies pertaining to hiring, promotions and discipline can be found at within the banner story pertaining to the May election and "prop 2". Read them carefully, especially the policies page 11 in the promotional packet really is NOT about "who you know".

  5. “Tactical” Response: Apparatus Operators, Lieutenants, and Captains
    Candidates for these ranks participate in written tests and assessment center exercises in order to achieve promotion. The promotional process ensures candidates know required information and demonstrate the “ability to do the job.” The focus at these levels: Technical Skills and Knowledge.
    •A written test, the first process step for the ranks of Apparatus Operator (100 questions), Lieutenant (150 questions), and Captain (200 questions), is to determine if candidates have “obtained the necessary knowledge” for promotion. A passing written test score of 70% is required to proceed to the assessment center portion of the promotional process.
    •An assessment process is used to measure Apparatus Operator, Lieutenant, and Captain Candidates’ “ability to do the job.” A passing assessment center sore of 70% is required to be considered for promotion.
    “Strategic” Management: Deputy Chiefs and Assistant Chiefs
    Candidates for selection to Chief level “management” positions participate in administrative exercises, stakeholder interview panels and skill set evaluations. History of performance and organizational contribution are also considered. Promotions to these ranks also require an updated criminal background check. These candidates have already proven themselves as successful emergency scene leaders. The focus at this level: Administrative Management, Planning, and Preparedness.
    The purpose of the “chief officer” selection process is to find the best qualified
    candidates with appropriate administrative abilities and skills sets to meet
    existing and future community challenges, while ensuring safe and effective
    Fire Department operations. Chief Officers are responsible for the management
    of emergencies, personnel, resources, and the efficient use of taxpayer funds.

    Civil Service bases hiring and promotions strictly off a written test (and pass/fail hiring exercises such as physical ability tests, background check, etc.). Assuming a candidate passes all “pass/fail” elements , hiring and all promotions are done strictly based on their written test score with no ability to look at anything else pertaining to the candidate, including the desired skill set and their abilities to actually demonstrate basic competency for the desired promoted position. Civil Service rules PROHIBIT the use of any other prerequisites for promotions such as training classes, certifications, or formal education beyond a GED in order to promote, except a requirement of 2 years on the job or 2 years in the previous rank.

  6. Will my taxes increase?
    No. There is no tax impact by passing Civil Service. It is important to understand that Civil Service provides no additional benefits to firefighters. Although the City has reduced overtime pay (resulting in on most days, additional firefighters on duty for the same cost as hiring fewer full-time firefighters and relying more heavily on overtime to cover unscheduled leave vacancies) and eliminated health benefits to spouses (that have access to health insurance through their employer…this occurred after the association president demanded a higher raise than 4%. They ultimately were given a 5.5% raise with the additional funding coming at the expense of spouses who have insurance through their employer), Civil Service has no impact on these recent cuts to firefighters.
    Civil Service has nothing to do with taxes; however, it will cost the City of Arlington millions of dollars over the next decade to fund the required “Civil Service Commission”, adding an additional and expensive layer of bureaucracy. Firefighters will likely “pay” for this cost through the loss of current generous benefits currently provided but not required by Civil Service. If “we” want Civil Service, it has been clearly stated that that is exactly what we will get….and nothing more than CS requires. Many firefighters are being falsely assured the association will be able to negotiate anything that is lost, back. Civil Service has NO provision for negotiating what is and what is not included with the rules. In addition, costs for disciplinary decisions upheld by the civil service commission but not acceptable to the employee can be taken to District Court. This is where the really big costs come in.
    Can unqualified firefighters be fired?
    Absolutely, they can and will be fired. And more importantly, most unqualified firefighters will never be hired in the first place. Hiring based solely off a written test score does little to ensure a candidate is “qualified”. For firefighters, serving alongside an unqualified firefighter is not just an inconvenience; it is a safety risk that could cost a life. Civil Service does allow a fired firefighter to appeal his or her firing to court, but this is extremely rare and rarely successful when tried. Currently firefighters can appeal a proposed suspension, demotion or termination to the issuing supervisor, the Fire Chief and either the City Manager or an independent arbitrator. Association members pay nothing out of pocket towards the arbitration costs which are split between the firefighters association and the city. Under Civil Service, an employee would appeal a proposed suspension, demotion or dismissal to the CS Commission. Written Reprimands, currently an option in progressive discipline would no longer exist under Civil Service. The only formal discipline options available under Civil Service are suspension, demotion and “indefinite suspensions”. Firefighters who may have previously received a written reprimand, will now receive a proposed suspension under Civil Service IF it passes. Civil Service totally removes discipline from Department and City officials (including independent arbitrators) whose responsibility includes evaluating proposed suspensions, demotions and dismissals.
    Is this a union thing?
    No. This gives no additional power to a labor union. Civil Service removes politics from the process of hiring and firing, and provides an objective, data driven standard. There are no “politics” involved in the hiring, promotional and termination processes of the City. We believe promotions should be based on what you know, not who you know. Promotions in the AFD have nothing to do with who you know (see AFD Promotions) . Hiring also has nothing to do with “who you know or what you look like”, an assertion of the association president and everything to do with what you know and what you bring to the table as a potential Arlington firefighter (the total package).

  7. Why has this not passed before?
    The concept of Civil Service began right here in Tarrant County in Fort Worth, many years ago. The idea was very popular and spread across Texas rapidly and even around the nation. It was seen as a way to create a more professional public safety system and eliminate cronyism and a good-old-boy system that used to dominate the service. Unlike every other city of its size, Arlington did not adopt Civil Service. Perhaps it was a “little brother” effect being so close to Fort Worth or a feeling of being in Fort Worth’s shadow. But with all that Arlington has accomplished and established on its own, the days of being in anyone’s shadow are behind us and should not stop us from having a professional firefighter structure. AFD currently has the “gold standard” when it comes to “professional firefighter structure” and other cities exist in our shadow. The success of our organization is directly impacted by our people and the quality of our people is what sets the AFD apart from other departments. Our professional and scientifically validated hiring and promotional processes are why our “people quality” at all levels within the organization is as high as they are. Service delivery to our citizens is directly impacted by our “people quality”. Do you want our current high standards, or much lower standards at a higher cost? It’s really that simple.
    Is there a problem right now that is causing y'all to do this?
    We believe promotions should be based on what you know, not who you know. Civil Service levels the playing field, awarding earned promotions through merit by an objective display of knowledge. Subjectivity has prevented many well qualified firefighters from receiving the promotion they worked tirelessly to earn. A promotional candidate’s performance on written tests over required areas of knowledge and their performance during the assessment portion of the competitive promotional process, along with any educational points determine the ability to promote for Apparatus Operator through the Captain rank.. You will be hard pressed to find any company who hires or promotes their personnel based solely off a written test with no subjective analysis of the candidates. Again, who someone knows has absolutely no bearing on hiring or promotions in the AFD. The AFD currently has educational standards in place for each rank that are being phased in over a number of years. A GED or HS diploma is required to be hired with each rank having a progressively higher number of college hours and certifications required. Civil Service removes ALL required educational standards other than a HS diploma or GED from initial hiring through the Assistant Chief rank. Our firefighters association pushed for these required educational standards and now proposes adoption of Civil Service which will eliminate them. In fact, the association wanted to require at least 20 hours of college to apply with our department. They also stated that our minimum age of 19 was too young but now endorse civil service that has a minimum age of 18 and a maximum age of 35. Arlington feels the upper limit is discriminatory and has no upper age limit. It is interesting that the association president left a civil service department to come to AFD when he was around 40 years old, which would have made him ineligible under civil service rules, and now wants to adopt a system that would prevent anyone 36 or older from applying to AFD.

  8. Civil Service lays out a set of rules for all to follow that are fair and impartial. Firefighters should feel secure in knowing that the rules they follow today will be the rules they are expected to follow in the future with no favoritism exhibited. Meaning, nothing should ever change throughout your “perpetual employment” with the AFD. Although the world is constantly changing, no change related to hiring, promotions or discipline is allowed within the organization to adapt to our changing environment and service delivery needs. Not exactly a model any successful company would follow. But some of our employees think this is what they and YOU , the citizens they serve, need. AFD and the City has HIGH and equitable professional standards for hiring, promotions and discipline. Civil Service has “standards”, developed more than seventy years ago and designed to prevent anything from changing.
    Bottom Line: Do you want to strip hiring , promotion and discipline decisions from those hired to manage these critical areas and force the City to adopt antiquated state civil service standards, MUCH lower than current standards, and at a much higher price or retain proven high quality processes.
    To see the AFD hiring, promotion and discipline polices, visit, find the banner story regarding the May election and look for prop 2.There are 4 documents, one a FAQ document and the three on hiring ,promotions and discipline.

    Don't be fooled by this attempt to scam the Arlington citizens into voting for state control of our fire department using antiquated and pathetically low standards for hiring, promotion and discipline...and at a much higher cost.. know the facts.


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