1. #1
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    Default New Volunteer- Many Questions

    I was hired a a local volunteer fire department that runs about 250 calls per year. When I was hired, they did't explain their expectations of me. They gave me my gear and a pager. Everything else I have been having to figure out on my own. So far, the weekly training has been everyone standing around talking or working on the trucks. I'm all about taking the initiative and doing what needs to be done, but I am surprised that I am aloud to go to calls without any training. They seem more worried about getting everyone's help doing projects and fixing things around the station than training and practicing.

    I joined this department to help people and to gain experience to help me someday being a career firefighter.

    Any thoughts?

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    Does the dept. have a training officer? Are you required to obtain FF1? When and where does that training take place? Are you assigned to a truck , engine or company yet? If so who is the capt or lt? Ask them about training. How long are you required to be a probie? Are you allowed on the first due?

    Our probies keep their gear at the station and must report there for alarms. They can go on first due only if there is room. Our probies must attend and finish ff1 within a year at there own pace and the counties academy scedhule. In addition they must attend training set up by our dept. training officer. Our dept. meets every monday night. One Monday is truck or company drill, one is truck and pack reports, one is dept drill and the last one is county fire acadmey drill.

    250 calls a year is not alot. Do you run ems also? In that case become an E, you'll get satisfaction out of that. Good luck. Keep your mouth shut, ears open and put up with the b.s.

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    Yes, we do medical to. I haven't been assigned to a truck, just a shift.
    I already got my EMT-B last year. Haven't worked as an EMT yet.
    I'll start asking around more about the training and if I am on probation or not...

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    As a suggestion, I would go through your chain of command and request a meeting with the appropriate personnel (your training officer, Chief, Chief of Operations....???) whoever is responsible for training you. Explain your concerns to them directly. Also advise them that until you receive proper orientation and training, that you will not be responding to emergencies as you are more of a liability than a help.
    "Loyalty Above all Else. Except Honor."

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    Are you a vollie or paid? Around here we dont do shifts. Bigger depts. that run alot of overnight calls do duty crews. Again where will you get ff1?

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    If nothing else, find (or see if an officer will assign you) a mentor. Someone you can hang around with at the station, who will tell you how things work, who will show you where things are and what they're used for, and so on. Hell, find two or three people that can teach you about different things.

    From there, start learning the equipment and where it is on the trucks. Also, start to learn your response area; the main roads, main intersections, landmarks, and the sort.

    Depending on the size of your department and how things work there, they may not have a formal training program for new guys. I know of a lot of departments (including ours in the past) where you learned by watching on calls. The chief would assign you to help someone on fires, or on medicals you'd stand back and watch. As an EMT, the medical call situation may not be such an issue if you're experienced.

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    Thanks for all of your responses. We did some good training last night and I learned alot. There is no formal training for new people, kind of a learn as you go.

    We are paid per call. We work ABC shifts and staying at the station is optional.

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    tulsa,

    If you have wishes to become a career FF I would recommend staying at the station as much as possible. Not only will you gain better experience but you'll experience what it's like to "live" at the FD. Being part of the first out truck will allow you to see incidents at the beginning and see how they evolve. Also if the department will pay for any fire schooling, jump on it and get your basic certs asap. Most FFI and FFII programs are geared towards newbies anyway so you'll learn a lot but shouldn't be too overwhelmed. And always ASK QUESTIONS!! Also if your an EMT, try to work for an ambulance service. The best experience for any EMT/Medic is being in the back of a rig, not driving or sitting back on calls.

    my 2 cents

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    Let me get this straight. There is No Mandatory FF1 training. You just become an interior when you think your ready. Are there any SOG or SOP's or does everyone just freelance?

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    Welcome to the south. I know a former chief in CT whose annual budget for his volunteer company was twice what my towns combo budget is. Funding is short and in some areas volunteers are not prevalent. The most recent LODD report from NIOSH for the firefighter killed in AL is a good example of what goes on in the rural south. Most states in the south do not have mandatory training of any kind. TN recently tried to pass a minimum training program (16 hrs initial, basic FF with in 3 yrs) but it didn't pass the house vote.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rescuedawg View Post
    Let me get this straight. There is No Mandatory FF1 training. You just become an interior when you think your ready. Are there any SOG or SOP's or does everyone just freelance?
    You sound surprised. Particularly with small departments in the midwest, there may not be any standard training, or SOG/SOP's.

    There are a lot of departments out there that can't afford to send their guys to FF I and II, nor can the individuals pay for it themselves. The alternative is to do the best you can in-house.

    Even as of now, my department has no mandatory level of training. When I became chief, I instituted a policy that only guys certified FF I and II (Missouri combines the two, won't do them seperate) could make an interior attack. If a situation arose where certain personnel with a certain amount of training were available, they could make an entry with someone FF I and II certified. Before that, the chief designated who was allowed to make entry and who wasn't.

    The same goes for SOG's. I know of several departments that don't have SOG's, and even more who have outdated ones or something they've adopted from someone else and don't even use them, they're just there to say they have them. I had to spend a LONG freaking time developing ours from scratch, as I had none to work with.

    Then, of course, you have those chiefs that believe what they've been doing for 20+ years has always worked, why change now? Thankfully, those dinosaurs are starting to die out, finally.

    Sadly, this is typical of a lot of small, underfunded, rural departments (even some larger, combo/career) around here.

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    That sucks!

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    TULSA-

    1.) Stick to it. You're going to have to take point on this. Find a mentor, some one to show you the ropes.

    2.) go to amazon.com and buy a recent IFSTA essentials, 5th addition is the latest i think. read it, chapter by chapter, cover to cover. you'll probably be the only one in your dept that has. If your dept has SOGs steal a copy and memorize it, highlight the parts that dont make sense then ask someone who should know.

    3.) practice on your own. go to the station. learn every truck cabinet, every tool, start every motor (saw, vent fan, etc), then practice until you can turnout in less than a minute, then don SCBA in less than a minute. as you go along with this you will learn more and more. firefighting is mental AND physical, it all takes training and training is a perishable skill.

    4.) find someone else in your position, new and ignored, train together, its easier and fun. find someone that does what i described above and meet at the station when they are there and emulate them.

    5.) if you wait around for someone to train you, you might be waiting a while. If you take the initiative, they will notice. If they encourage you and maybe even help you, good. If they discourage you, criticize you or don't support you, resign and find another FD because they're not worthy of you.

    best of luck

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    Reminds me of the Flinstones episode with Joe Rockheads volunteer fire.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tulsa442 View Post
    I was hired a a local volunteer fire department that runs about 250 calls per year. When I was hired, they did't explain their expectations of me. They gave me my gear and a pager. Everything else I have been having to figure out on my own. So far, the weekly training has been everyone standing around talking or working on the trucks. I'm all about taking the initiative and doing what needs to be done, but I am surprised that I am aloud to go to calls without any training. They seem more worried about getting everyone's help doing projects and fixing things around the station than training and practicing.

    I joined this department to help people and to gain experience to help me someday being a career firefighter.

    Any thoughts?
    That pretty much describes every volunteer department I have ever seen.
    FF/Paramedic

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    catch22 where u chief at im from MO

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    Lightbulb Hang in there

    One option is to see if any other vol. departments in your area have formal in-house training. Find a department that you run mutual aid with and see if you can train with them. We do that a lot here in FL. If all else fails you may have to bite the bullet and get your FF1/FF2 on your own. Most community colleges offer such programs. That's what I had to do when I joined my department. Definately listen to, and learn from the senior guys. I would, however, avoid going interior until you're certified to do so. As exciting as it may be, going in before you've learned how is a good way to get hurt.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jtucker1384 View Post
    catch22 where u chief at im from MO
    A little town in SW Missouri called Purdy. Where you from?

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    im from st louis

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    Some solutions that my department (27 person POC department)

    LSU offers a free online FFI course, that is an option for anyone who doesn't have access to other training materials.


    My department requires new firefighters to complete the IFSTA Fire Essentials book, on their own, during their first year. After they turn their answers for each chapter, we give them a chapter test.

    At the end of the year, we give them a written test over the contents of the whole book.

    We use drill nights to cover hands on skills using the skill sheets the State of Idaho uses to test for Firefighter I and II.

    The State of Idaho provided us 10 sets of the Essentials books, and the Instructor guide including test generator, for free, our local Chief Association gave us 2 more sets.

    We make our new fire fighters complete the NIMS-700, ICS-100, ICS-200, S-130 and S-190 courses on the NFA on-line training site during their first year as well. If a firefighter doesn't have online access from home, we have donated computers set up at the station for them to do the courses on.

    We eliminated elections for officers many years ago. Officers are competitively promoted.

    Many of these programs are new for us in the past 5 years. 10-15 years ago, most of our new people would have described our training situation much like yours.

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