1. #1
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    Default What to do with volunteer firefighters?

    We are a some what combination department. Actually we only have 2 maybe 3 volunteers. The problem is we don't use them and nobody really wants to mess with it. Well I have been given the job of getting a program started to use them to our full advantage. I have about 6 other guys wnating to get on but need a direction. I want this to truly work so they (the Volunteer) benefits the same as us. We are a 24/48 career department and the extra guys would benefit us greatly. We only staff 31 guys and one of those is the Chief. Any Ideas or plans already in place would be greatly appreciated.

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    Primarily volunteer combo department.

    Our vollies have minimum standards but requirements do not mirror what is required of paid staff. In our case, the volunteers are the primary response force and the career force is designed to support them, both administratively and on the fireground.

    System works very well.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LaFireEducator View Post
    Primarily volunteer combo department.

    Our vollies have minimum standards but requirements do not mirror what is required of paid staff. In our case, the volunteers are the primary response force and the career force is designed to support them, both administratively and on the fireground.

    System works very well.
    great....that doesn't help out with his question
    Originally Posted by madden01
    "and everyone is encouraged to use Plain, Spelled Out English. I thought this was covered in NIMS training."

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    i've been in discussion with our chiefs with a very simular process in my department. We have 5 in the day and 4 at night (2 FT'ers and filled in with PT'ers). 2 guys are strictly volly.

    It is a hard spot. You need to start communications with the upper echelon and will likely need to step up and offer your help and time to the task.

    Contact the chief and see what there thoughts are? The chiefs are responsive here but we are in the very infancy of talks now.

    We would likely get them to level 1 now and get a future plan to have them become emt-b's and level 2 ff'sin 3 years.
    Originally Posted by madden01
    "and everyone is encouraged to use Plain, Spelled Out English. I thought this was covered in NIMS training."

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    A department nearby has a combination roster. 1 captain and 2 FF's are assigned to each apparatus. The volunteers are required to put in 12 hours per month of "ride time". They are assigned an apparatus upon arrival for the respective shifts they signed up for (no set hours are established, whatever they sign up for they are expected to work). The catch is that being a volunteer on this dept. is the only way to get hired full time. It is considered a promotion from vol to career. This causes many volunteer interested in a job to work several hours past the minimum. And for the department it is a great way to get quality career people. The dept. will get to see first hand the capabilities, strengths, and weaknesses of each individual before they even apply for a career job.

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    I left out in my last post that the volleys carry pagers and can also be called in to respond to their stations should all of the career personnel be utilized and nobody is left to call in for OT.

    The bad side to all of this is that it could very likely cost more full time job openings during a period of growth or through attrition.

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    Ours is a combination FD and the role and training of the volunteer members is very difficult to manage.

    Because of the more more stringent minimum standards placed on hiring fulltimers, the call FFer's (vol./paid call) are often viewed as "second string". It's not completely off base in that even an equally qualified call FFer does not benefit from working with a shift 24 hrs at a time, every third day. But this is not answering your question.

    Our call (vollies) FFers are trained to do anything their capable of. Some are only driver/operators and we have two unstaffed pieces they respond with as well as filling empty seats (trained for interior) on career staffed apparatus when their inhouse. Most of them are at least FFI, with many FFII and still a few EMS licensed as well. The hard part is understanding why they do it? If you're not in house for 99% of the calls, you'll see none of the "excitement" and end up being a master at overhaul and loading hose.

    Our issues stem from our career FFer's feeling like the call fire division has out lived its usefulness and they're not well enough tuned to operate as a firefighter shoulder to shoulder with the career staff. For the most part this is an exaggeration of minor issues. My comment to the Union in this case is that as we're the only career staffed FD in the area (a small one at that) we rely on volunteers for most fires that are over second alarm, at which time they'll be relying on volunteer firefighters. So which volunteers would you rather have first due our own or another town's whom we have far less appreciation for their abilities?

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    In such a situation, I would not use them as call firefighters on any first due rigs, but rather as straight supplemental staffing and on-call staffing for support apparatus, ie. Light and Air, Canteen, etc. Look at how Fairfax Fire and Rescue use volunteers. Set a minimum stand-by requirement per month or year.
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    Default Thanks

    I appreciate all the ideas. I am in the process of getting this going, I was going to talk with the chief today but he is on vac. imagine that. I will try to implement as much as I think they can handle . I will keep you informed.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JB1997 View Post
    A department nearby has a combination roster. 1 captain and 2 FF's are assigned to each apparatus. The volunteers are required to put in 12 hours per month of "ride time". They are assigned an apparatus upon arrival for the respective shifts they signed up for (no set hours are established, whatever they sign up for they are expected to work). The catch is that being a volunteer on this dept. is the only way to get hired full time. It is considered a promotion from vol to career. This causes many volunteer interested in a job to work several hours past the minimum. And for the department it is a great way to get quality career people. The dept. will get to see first hand the capabilities, strengths, and weaknesses of each individual before they even apply for a career job.
    I would guess PFT

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    I am not trying to be demeaning when I say this, but run it the same way as a Jr. FF program would be run. Someone would be ultimately responsible for them, give them direction, do their training, keep with their training, etc. Kind of a Liasion between them and the department, someone that can speak up for them when there are issues, etc.
    Just an opinion.
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    Exclamation Be Careful...

    stonecold16, I read this thread and ask myself, "If he dose a great job, could he get himself promoted to ...unemployment?"

    I've heard of cities laying off their entire full time staff because the politicians decided they had enough volunteers to do the job. I hope you have some guarantees here!
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    Bikefire,

    YOU GOT THAT RIGHT BROTHER!!! I came from a volly dept to where I am now which is a full time paid career dept. I have not forgotten where I came from and considering like 3/4 of the nation is volly, I have just as much respect for most of them as I do most of the full timers.

    HOWEVER, we also have about 6 call guys. They only get toned out on what we call a "still box" for a structure fire. They are great guys, but we dont need them here. We recently laid off a few full timers due to the budget and the call force was eliminated also. Then they were asked by the town to come back on a volunteer basis with FULL TIME UNION MEMBERS still laid off. Thats wrong. These town administrator ***holes would have us ALL volunteering if they could. You are right, I would tread very lightly on this issue...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bikefire View Post
    stonecold16, I read this thread and ask myself, "If he dose a great job, could he get himself promoted to ...unemployment?"

    I've heard of cities laying off their entire full time staff because the politicians decided they had enough volunteers to do the job. I hope you have some guarantees here!
    It happend to me. I worked my way up from volunteer to contract FF, part-time city FF and then full time City FF. One day the Mayor looks at the budget and decides that he can lay off those of us working full time and just keep some of us on as part time and let the vollies pick up the slack. I had another job lined up and was told I'd be kept on parttime. Two weeks later I had not been put on the schedule. I finally get a hold of the Chief and he tells me that he's not scheduleing anyone for parttime either. Six months later the chief gets a call from the Mayor saying the budget is fixed and to hire back the fulltimers. I was told that I had to completely reapply for my old postion. WTF?!? So I went through everything all over again but within a few months had gotten fed up with our small town BS, had ****ed off the Chief and most of the department and quit without notice.
    Steve
    EMT/Security Officer

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    Just spray them with Raid, or Black Flag. They'll get confused and wander off.
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