Volunteer Leadership Roundtable

Volunteer fire-rescue leaders share their views on funding, staffing, training, health and safety, and other key topics.


Firehouse® Magazine is proud to present our first “Volunteer Leadership Roundtable,” featuring the views of a cross-section of leaders from the volunteer fire-rescue service. These are people who have stepped forward to take on demanding roles and responsibilities at a challenging time for...


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Turno: Yes. We have agreements with all the agencies surrounding us and they do work and have worked quite well. We try very hard to keep these agreements and review them on an annual basis.

MUTUAL AID
Does your department respond more on mutual or does that aid come to you more often?

Borry:

Devonshire: I would say our mutual aid is about even both ways. Our alarm assignments call for automatic mutual aid on any structure fire, hazardous material response or technical rescue. The same can be said for my neighboring departments as well.

Jackson: Our mutual aid is a fairly even split between receiving and giving.

Turno: We have been fortunate in that we tend to supply aid more than we request it. However, we do not let this affect our attitude toward others or ourselves.

HEALTH & FITNESS
Are your members required to take physical examinations? If so, at what timetable?

Borry:

Devonshire: We have not required our members to have a physical at this time. We have begun to take a harder look at firefighter safety and have been stepping through this process one step at a time and have not gotten to this subject as of yet. I would assume that it is only a matter of time.

Jackson: Our volunteer members take a complete physical provided by our department at the time of joining and then repeat the complete physical every two years by the department physician. When a member reaches the age of 40, physicals are given annually. In addition to physicals, each member completes an SCBA (self-contained breathing apparatus) work-rate drill that monitors air consumption as well as pre- and post-drill vitals with results submitted to the department physician with a completed health questionnaire.

Turno: Yes, we have annual physicals. As a result of these tests, we have seen a need to develop some type of physical fitness program. We are also in the process of reinstituting a stress test and looking into some form of annual agility test.

FEDERAL GRANTS
Have you applied for a federal FIRE Act grant? If so, what was the grant to be used for?

Borry:

Devonshire: Yes, each year we have applied for a grant. We received a grant the second year for personal facepieces, some additional SCBA units, respirators, Tyvek suits, nitrile gloves and some other smaller hazmat response PPE (personal protective equipment). This year, we are applying for fire police equipment so that we can be more effective in preventing firefighters and fire police from being struck on the roadways; after all, they are our first line of defense.

Jackson: Our most recent grant application and award was for fiscal year 2004 in the area of firefighter safety. The funding provided from the grant will be used for acquisition of a thermal imaging camera to augment our current early-model camera that has become well used and less reliable. Additionally, funds will be used to obtain 10 additional sets of turnout gear to help equip our growing numbers of volunteers.

We have also submitted a grant application for the prevention-specific grant program for an all-hazard education trailer. Our FIRE Act grant application for this fiscal year will be aimed toward better equipping our department for response to confined-space and trench-collapse rescue situations.

Confined-space and collapse-rescue situations are a significant concern for our community due to our proximity with the Cascadia Subduction Zone and local earthquake potential.

Turno: We purchased monitoring equipment, protective suits and decon equipment.

APPARATUS PURCHASING
What is the average age of your fleet? Are you increasing the fleet or downsizing?

Borry:

We also need a vehicle to help with our work as a WMD decontamination response team.

Devonshire: 11.25 years old. We are currently looking at replacing our oldest piece in 2009. This is our oldest pumper and would be 27 years old at the time it would be replaced. This would also fall into our long-term plan that will allow us to replace apparatus every 21 years. While this is outside of the 21-year plan by six years, it will place us on a timeline that will be financially feasible for us. At this time, we are not looking to increase our fleet beyond its current capacity.