Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by TOP NOTCH LAWN CARE, Feb 10, 2001.


    TOP NOTCH LAWN CARE LawnSite Member
    Messages: 9

    Hi, I paid a guy salary money 25,000 a year with health and dental ins and we worked fairly long hours during the summer and then when winter came around from Dec. 24 til March 1 or the last week in Feb, he got a pay check and did'nt even have to come to work except fri, to pick up his pay check. The only work that we did between dec and march was some plowing.(he is in the vol. fire dept) The first day back to work I sent my nephew and him to cut some low limbs at a contract and chip them up, well he was on my tractor going to the job and the fire whistle rang as he was going by and pulled in there on my tractor while he was on the clock and went on the fire call. About 2 hours later he finally shows up at the job and my nephew had most of the cutting done and when i got there nothing hsd been chipped. So I asked him what was wrong and he told me. I told him that he can not be doing that on my time. And he is lucky and I did'nt fire him right there but that same day after i had talked to him, he is talking my tractor back to the shop and the fire whistle rings again. What does he do pull back in there on my tractor again.
    My nephew and i were waiting for him and he did'nt show up for about 1 hour. Finally when he got there i asked him where he had been i he told me that he went on another fire call. And i told him that he cannot be doing that and he told me that his was going to quit because the vol. fire dept was more important then his job. Sorry something vol. does not pay the bills.
    Please respond and tell me what you think of that.
    thanks alot
    Top Notch
  2. dmk395

    dmk395 LawnSite Bronze Member
    from Ma
    Messages: 1,006

    Wow i guess he really likes to help people and put out fires
  3. thelawnguy

    thelawnguy LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,411

    Im not even going to start laying into you about volunterr firefighters and the sacrifices they make, Ill let the firefighters on the board here do that.

    We have a problem in the volunteer squad in my town, and that is, there is an acute shortage of guys willing or able to respond during the day. Local businesses are more than happy to let the guys and gals respond when the horn sounds. But more and more folks work too far away to be able to respond in a timely manner.

    I think you can forgive the 12.50 an hour you pay this guy so he may save somebody or someones property (maybe yours someday). Im sure it would cost you much more than that if your town has to raise taxes to go with a paid department.
  4. kutnkru

    kutnkru LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,662

    As a volunteer firefighter I do not agree with the fact that he held up production. I however, would side with him had he been driving his personal response vehicle to the scene/department.

    I must admit, that during the workday if pagers go off; we DO NOT respond. Unfortunately in this business I feel that most clients would object to that even if it was their home, others may not.

    Our business is one that occupies the times of our employees from 715 in the morning until at least 5 that evening. If someone decides that a call is more important I can respect them for their beliefs. I do however have a business to run, so I expect them to respect mine as an employer.

    On the flip side I think that it is also for Departments to try and recruit enough volunteers so that there are sufficent numbers for emergencies during the daytime. This is of course not the easiest task to be done. It is also not out of the question.

    Just my thoughts.
  5. thelawnguy

    thelawnguy LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,411

    I assume he was a member when you hired him; if he joined the dept afterwards my stance will probably change.
  6. cantoo

    cantoo LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,910

    At the factory where I work we have a few firefighters. We also have a program in place to deal with fire calls. If the employee gets a page when he is working he still has to notify supervisor before leaving jobsite. The key word here is communication, he knows he is a fireman and he knows he will gets calls. This should have been discussed before he started work or when he joined up. On his way to the call he could have called you on his cell phone to inform you of where he was. Our guys call their fire dept dispatch before they leave the jobsite to make sure they are needed and it's not another cat in the tree call.
  7. guntruck

    guntruck LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 527

    I too am a Maryland firefighter (volunteer) and i know how important it is to respond during the day. I have to say though, if it were my job vs responding i would have to go with the job. Here we have the problem of responding too but we usually always get the piece out the door at time of responce check. I would not tolerate this from one of my employees........but thats me!! =)
  8. GeoffDiamond

    GeoffDiamond LawnSite Bronze Member
    from Maine
    Messages: 1,651

    Ok, I will say this out right now before I start. I am not a landscaper, I am a utility contractor, that reads the snowplowing forum, and sometimes ends up over hear. I bought my new lawn mower based on the post I read in the lawn mowing forum, so thanks for the info.

    When did this happen? I read your post, and right now it is Feb, your off season correct? I think you said your season was December 2X- March 1. So was the tree job just something that came up? It sounds like you had nothing to do till this job started, so if it went an extra day it wouldn't be a big deal, correct?

    Here is my take.

    Almost all of my employees are Fire Fighters. The summer time is our busy season, just like you landscapers. We also travel all over the state for our utility jobs. So if an employee is 5 hours away, he won't be much help. However if the employee is working in the town they are a Fire Fighter in or the a town next door, I will let them leave for a call. However I tell them, they can decide which calls they want to leave for. My guys only leave for big calls, large woods fires or confirmed house fires. Thats all they said they need to leave for.

    In the winter if we are not plowing snow, they can't leave when they are plowing. I tell them they can go on any call they want. That and the Fire station is 600 feet up the road from my shop.

    By letting my employees leave for any call during the winter, when we are not plowing, or when needed in the summer. I get good PR in the town, if I ever needed the fire department to my shop I will get a full turn out of guys. To this date I have yet to go into the red by letting guys run on calls. Infact I am even giving them a truck this spring.

    Just my take.

    The amount of training the federal goverment makes them go through a year is amazing. Most are not paid for their training, and they have to go though it to fight fire for free. It isn't like you can just show up off the street, and start right in. Some of my employees have trained 300 a year hours for free. These guys train on weekends, and after they get out of work, not on my time.

    One more thing to think about. It sounds like you pissed off this guy, I would call him up and talk to him. I don't think it was a big deal that he went on that second call. It was the end of the day and he was on his way back to your shop right? So does it matter if the tractor gets back at 4PM or 6Pm? As long as your not paying for his time on the call.

    I deal with about 10 utility companies, and they could all care less if I let me guys leave for fire calls. However you probably have a lot of residential home owener customers, correct? If you fire this guy, and he tells his 40 ( just picking a number) or so fellow fire fighters, they are a tough nit group. That is 40 people you have just pissed off, they have neighbors and friends, who may be your customers, or may become your customer. People talk, if you get bad PR from all of thse fire fighters and their neighbors and friends, it may impact your biz. Just one more thing to think about.

    Here is my advice, feel free to e-mail me, seeing I deal with this subject a lot.

    That and it is easier to keep an existing employee that you know is a good employee, than to try to find a new one. The employement market is tight, so think about that too.

    Try to come to an agreement on what type of calls he can leave for and when. The little bit of money it will cost you is far less than the tax increase you will recieve, if the town if forced to higher full time fire fighters.


    [Edited by GeoffDiamond on 02-10-2001 at 08:51 PM]
  9. smburgess

    smburgess LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 467

    This is a no brainer, he's fired.

    TOP NOTCH LAWN CARE LawnSite Member
    Messages: 9

    thank you for all of your replies. However I don't think that i went into enough detail. this worker had worked for me for two years, i had continually discussed with him about leaving for calls. i could understand him leaving if it was a bad call or important as long as we were near by. but this guy was addicted, it did'nt matter what kind of call or when it was he would try to leave the job and if he did'nt leave he was pissed off. many times i allowed him to leave when there was still alot of work to be done, then when i would ask him to stay a little longer or work later for lost time then he was also pissed. in the two year period at least five times he never got to work until lunch time do to leaving for a call instead of coming to work.sometimes i did not even get a phone call .how can i run a business with this happening .when this would happen other employees would ask what would happen if i did not show up for work or not call. i cannot understand how someone can constantly do this to an employer. to the comment about all residentials that is not so we do about 65% commercial and 35% residential. when jobs are to be done they are to be done.if i have limbs down on a property they need to be cleaned up not left til the next day because my worker left to go on a call to help a guy get his keys out of his car. he had eight weeks to go on every call they had during the off don"t come back to work and leave your bosses $30,000.00 tractor sitting unlocked for two hours with the keys in it. the two calls he went on his last day ammounted to nothing and he knew it before he left. i'am sorry but geoff if you think that this is a good employee and like letting people go on calls let me know. i will give you his phone number.
    thanks alot
    top notch

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