Is it possible to report on volunteers during events?

Hello, This season our team encountered some very non-professional treatment from some volunteers in the events we participated.
For example:

  1. Head Referee refuses to give our team time-out after our motor damaged during match but gives time-out to other team because of small problem fixed in one minute.
  2. Lead Robot Inspectors change versions of bumper rules - At our event we had two LRIs and at inspections, the LRIs changed their version of bumper rules, which cost our team a lot of time and frustration.
    I know that volunteers at events should treat teams with “Gracious Professionalism” and unfortunately, for us that wasn’t the case, so my question is there is any way we could report on those volunteers at events?

You can file NMIRs here.

Can you be a bit more specific on both incidents? Had you already used your timout? When did you try to use the timeout?

What specific rules did the LRI’s switch between?


Just because this wasn’t common knowledge for me: you must submit your time out card within a certain window after the end of the previous match (in elims). Not sure if this was the case, but perhaps this is what happened when the HR granted a time out to one alliance and not the other?

T3. If an ALLIANCE wishes to use their TIMEOUT, the ALLIANCE CAPTAIN must submit their
TIMEOUT coupon to the Head REFEREE within two (2) minutes of the ARENA reset signal
preceding their MATCH. If there is no preceding MATCH, the TIMEOUT coupon must be submitted no later than two (2) minutes before the scheduled MATCH time. The TIMEOUT will begin two (2) minutes after the ARENA reset signal (i.e. at the end of the TEAM TIMEOUT Coupon Window depicted in Figure 12-4)

notmattlythgoe’s link to the NMIR is the way to go, though, if you do have anything you want to report. I believe they keep copies at pit admin if you want to fill it out in person at the event.

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Also to note, the MUST BE SUBMITTED WITHIN 48 HOURS at the top of the form is a requirement for the event staff not the reporter. Do not let this deter you from submitting.


I would also note that if you have an issue with a volunteer that requires more immediate action (safety concerns, inappropriate behavior, etc), you can always speak to your events Volunteer Coordinator or Event Coordinator about it.

In the case of your specific examples though, the NMIR form is probably the best way to go.

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Yeah sure,
We were the alliance captains and after our first QF match, our alliance captain went to the head referee and asked for timeout and he refused. We haven’t used timeout before in this event.
In general they both agreed that our bumpers are breaking the rules but they couldn’t agree on what bumper rule (bumper numbers, structure of the bumpers etc.).

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That wasn’t the case, we were the alliance captain and after our first QF match, our alliance captain went to ask timeout from the head referee.

In my experience, it’s almost best to not even rely on the timeout cards. There’s just too much inconsistency in how it’s called and many head refs do a poor job of handling them. My policy has become “assume you won’t get to play your time out card and do what you can in the time you have, if they do let you play it, you get a few extra minutes as a bonus”.

In regards to the bumpers, do you know how they asked you to remedy the issue? What did they want you to change about them? I assume at some point they must have OKed them or else you wouldn’t have been allowed to compete.

They asked to change the structure of the bumpers: new numbers, cut noodles, cut wood…
Eventually I asked other inspector to inspect us, and then we got OK.

Btw guys, the NMIR form is available also for international teams, right?

Interesting. I’d be curious to see how your bumpers were constructed myself, that sounds like a rather unusual case and I’d be interested to know what made them think you needed a total rebuild.

The NMIR form goes straight to FIRST HQ so location shouldn’t matter. That said, your district (FIRST Israel) may also have a form of their own on their website you may want to fill out in addition to the NMIR.

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Knowing the staff at FIRST Israel, I’m sure that they would love to hear your story and do what they can to help. The team experience is very important to the staff and volunteers at FIRST Israel, and I imagine they would want to know if any teams feel they didn’t get the best experience possible. If you don’t know how to contact them, you can send me a PM and I should be able to put you in contact with them.

That being said, I also know the volunteers in question here. I’m sure that they followed the rules to the best of their ability and weren’t unduly preferential to any team. I expect that this was likely a misunderstanding and at worst a miscommunication. In the heat of the moment it can be hard for a head ref or LRI to explain the intricacies of their decisions. I would assume that is the source of this confusion.

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Most Head Referees I’ve interacted with will not accept the time out card until after the match right before your match. So if you played QF1-1, you’d have to submit the card after QF4-1, right before QF1-2. Maybe that was the case then? Regardless, I think the Head Ref should have been more clear as to why he didn’t accept the time out.


This is a bad way of viewing things. Timeouts should be consistently implemented. I’ve needed and used timeouts before, and I try to have my coach request the timeout at the earliest time we think we’d need it.


Regardless of what happened and if they were right or not, if you have an issue with someone that doesn’t require immediate attention then submit a NMIR. If you need to talk to someone right away, get the volunteer coordinator atleast, they’ll usually be in charge of most volunteers or they’ll get you someone to talk to who will help you out

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This is actually the rule.

T3. If an ALLIANCE wishes to use their TIMEOUT, the ALLIANCE CAPTAIN must submit their TIMEOUT coupon to the Head REFEREE within two (2) minutes of the ARENA reset signal preceding their MATCH. If there is no preceding MATCH, the TIMEOUT coupon must be submitted no later than two (2) minutes before the scheduled MATCH time. The TIMEOUT will begin two (2) minutes after the ARENA reset signal (i.e. at the end of the TEAM TIMEOUT Coupon Window depicted in Figure 12-4)

When using a timeout, you should have your alliance captain in the question box as soon as the match before yours ends. Most of the head refs I know will then stand there with the captain right until the 2 minute mark, just to make sure they have as much time as possible for someone to run up and say “we don’t need it!”.

I’m more interested in the bumper issue, as there seems to be more confusion around them. Do you have pictures of what they looked like (on the robot!) before the changes? It’s possible there were multiple issues, or it could have been poor communication (in which case they need to know about it, because communication is 90% of the LRI’s job!), or they were trying to address the issues one at a time (in which case they should have at least explained everything up front and walked through a plan with you!).

I’ve had to make teams rebuild their bumpers from the ground up before, but I really try to avoid it, if at all possible. I look, as much as possible, for the smallest amount of work that will make them, and keep them, legal. The worst part is when an inspector already passed a team with something that shouldn’t have passed, and I have to deliver the bad news that the ref’s noticed something from 20 feet away that my inspector missed with his nose inches away, and because of it the team now has limited time to get it fixed instead of half of the practice day.

We’ve seen everything - wood backing that’s 1"x4", 3 pool noodles stacked, 3.5" pool noodles that were cut on a bandsaw to 2.5" square, pool noodles that were melted when the numbers were ironed on after assembly, corner coverage that’s not sufficient, bumpers that were built too big and have a huge gap between them and the frame, team numbers that don’t meet the spec, team logo used within the team number, reversible bumpers that show huge patches of the wrong color, reversible bumpers that have black “end caps” to avoid showing the wrong color or dealing with reversing around the edge, bumpers with no fabric on the exposed ends, just pool noodles, bumpers that are significantly outside of the zone, bumpers that are modified from the supplied cross section (cut out on the top to allow a mechanism to move, wood backing that goes across a gap between the noodles, bumper cover that spans a gap between the noodles/wood). Many of these issues lead to significant rework by teams that’s just unavoidable at that point.


Unfortunately, it sounds like you tried to submit the timeout coupon during a time when it was not valid. I would recommend doing a thorough reading of the rules before submitting the form.

For the bumper issue, I’m sorry to say I don’t think it will be effective if you only provide as much information as you have in this thread. From what you have told us so far, the inspectors may very way have had a good reason to think that your bumpers were outside of the rules. Another inspector passing them does not invalidate what they other inspectors might have seen. If you can provide a more thorough description in the NMIR, you may be able to get the result you are looking for.

Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely agree with you, it SHOULD be consistently implemented. From a point of practicality though, given that the rules are NOT consistently implemented, it makes more sense for a drive team to just assume going in that you won’t have the extra ~3 minutes and plan accordingly.

If it comes down to a situation where you have the choice of either competing with a robot that mostly works or not competing and subjecting your alliance to a 2 v 3, I’ll take the first option any day.

At the end, I believe the LRIs just tried to do their job, I understand if our bumpers aren’t legal, But the problem is they changed their versions, one LRI told us to change our bumpers while the other said they are fine.
About the timeout - perhaps our team was wrong when we tried to submit the timeout coupon, but the head referee didn’t told us why we don’t get a timeout.

We arrived to the event with illegal bumpers - that’s 100% true.
The only problem was the inspection of the bumpers, in previous event when we had bumper issue we fixed it immediately after the inspector told what to do.
In the event i’m talking about, the LRIs inspected our bumpers, at first they told us that the size of the bumpers wasn’t good, after we fixed it, they told us the number wasn’t good (the same numbers from before) and after we fixed that, they changed their versions of the rules in a few issues, according to them. The LRIs couldn’t agree on what issues and while one told us the bumpers are OK, the other said they weren’t.