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  1. #1
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    Default Pa City keeps.......Fire Dept? afloat. Or is it a Social Club?

    Yup. This was a wise investment. 15 members, only ONE can wear an SCBA, all the meanwhile they have a paid FD who has NO oversight of the VFD.
    Whiskey Tango Foxtrot......

    Meadville Volunteer Fire & Rescue Co. got something of a new lease on life Wednesday when Meadville City Council agreed to add $5,000 in monetary support for the company to the city's 2010 budget.

    However, the resolution adding the contribution also tasked the head of the city's paid fire department with something Chief Larndo (Tunie) Hedrick said he absolutely cannot do: establish specific goals and objectives -- and verify that they are being met -- for a fire company over which he has no direct control.

    "How can I set goals for people who will not work under me?," Hedrick wanted to know immediately after Council member LeRoy Stearns introduced the resolution.

    Leaders of the volunteer company had already made it plain that Meadville's only non-paid fire department couldn't survive without the city's cash support -- even if the city continued to provide insurance coverage, maintain the company's building and vehicle, and cover expenses such as motor fuel, gas and electricity.

    According to Hedrick's estimate, total city support for the volunteer company is in the neighborhood of $20,000 per year, including the cash contribution. The volunteers estimate that they raise an additional $3,000 per year through various fundraising efforts.

    In the end, councilmembers Jason Amory and LeRoy Stearns supported making the contribution. Cheryl Burkey and Christopher Soff disagreed, but Mayor Richard Friedberg cast the deciding vote and the $5,000 was restored.

    Throughout the discussion leading up to the vote, council members made it very clear that if the volunteers received funding, the company had to show improvement in its fire-fighting capabilities in order for the support to continue. A central issue has been the number of "mask-qualified" volunteers -- those authorized to enter burning buildings -- in the company. Although current membership is somewhere in the vicinity of 15, the mask-qualified membership totals one.

    "We have hundreds of hours of training every month," said Don Shea, the retired firefighter who is in charge of training the volunteers. "We don't have the most select people, either. ... We try to do the best with what we've got."

    "My instructor said four (volunteers) took the basic course," Hedrick said. "Two completed it, but he would only trust one."

    During the discussion leading up to the vote, councilmember-elect Nancy Mangilo-Bittner, who will be taking her seat in January, spotted a failure to communicate between the paid and volunteer fire companies. "It was not clear what was expected," she said, speaking of the seven-year-long effort to create a functional volunteer company. "Volunteers may be important if we have to lay off paid firefighters."

    As talk turned to how Hedrick could assist in training the volunteers to meet his own specifications, "(Shea) is a career firefighter in (Meadville Central Fire Department) for 31 years who raised to the level of battalion chief -- and he can't do it," Hedrick said. "What do you want me to do?"

    Without response, council voted 3-2 to restore the funding.

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    During the discussion leading up to the vote, councilmember-elect Nancy Mangilo-Bittner, who will be taking her seat in January, spotted a failure to communicate between the paid and volunteer fire companies. "It was not clear what was expected," she said, speaking of the seven-year-long effort to create a functional volunteer company. "Volunteers may be important if we have to lay off paid firefighters."
    I love this quote. I'm thinking finding volunteers during a recession is even more difficult. People are more worried about finding a job or keeping one than community service.

    I don't know any of these people making the decision to throw good money after bad, but they clearly have no clue.
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    Sounds like a dept in LA that I know.

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    During the discussion leading up to the vote, councilmember-elect Nancy Mangilo-Bittner, who will be taking her seat in January, spotted a failure to communicate between the paid and volunteer fire companies. "It was not clear what was expected," she said, speaking of the seven-year-long effort to create a functional volunteer company. "Volunteers may be important if we have to lay off paid firefighters."
    Of course, taking the funding spent on the volunteers and putting it into the payroll of the career FD doens;t make any sense, does it..
    ‎"The education of a firefighter and the continued education of a firefighter is what makes "real" firefighters. Continuous skill development is the core of progressive firefighting. We learn by doing and doing it again and again, both on the training ground and the fireground."
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    Quote Originally Posted by CaptainGonzo View Post
    Of course, taking the funding spent on the volunteers and putting it into the payroll of the career FD doens;t make any sense, does it..
    See post #3
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    To me this screams social club and the elected officials are doing really nothing but supporting that club at the disservice and the expense of the taxpayers who's safety is jeopardized. I see NO professionalism in an organization that has ONE SCBA qualified person. It shouldn't matter if they can only work with those who choose to volunteer, if the person can't fulfill the requirements of the job, all they are doing is hurting themselves and compromising safety of residents who probably don't know any better. Seems like if there is already a career dept, the "smart" thing to do is have them take over, have something to provide fire service because the "social club" doesn't appear to be doing so.

    And then this clueless one:
    councilmember-elect Nancy Mangilo-Bittner, "It was not clear what was expected," she said, speaking of the seven-year-long effort to create a functional volunteer company. "Volunteers may be important if we have to lay off paid firefighters."

    Now being newly elected, she probably has no clue, no idea of what is required to provide such a service. Maybe if it is pointed out to her where this dept is seriously lacking, the idea of volunteer filling in for paid guys may go. Hopefully information gets absorbed to the fact the most likely best choice would be to disband the volly dept all together and have the career dept take over and thus absorb that tax base from the volly dept as well. As already mentioned, in these economic times it is easy to think people will step up to a volly role and the paid guys can just be laid off, however, the perpetually clueless have NO idea of what it even takes to be a volly, let alone fix the problems seen here already.

    And no, I'm not bashing volly depts...just this particular social club.
    The thoughts and opinions posted here are mine and mine alone and do not reflect the thoughts and or views of city or dept affiliation.

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    Quote Originally Posted by CaptainGonzo View Post
    Of course, taking the funding spent on the volunteers and putting it into the payroll of the career FD doens;t make any sense, does it..

    Meadville Volunteer Fire & Rescue Co. got something of a new lease on life Wednesday when Meadville City Council agreed to add $5,000 in monetary support for the company to the city's 2010 budget.
    $5,000 is a drop in the bucket and would fund one Salary for maybe a month or two.

    According to Hedrick's estimate, total city support for the volunteer company is in the neighborhood of $20,000 per year, including the cash contribution. The volunteers estimate that they raise an additional $3,000 per year through various fundraising efforts.
    An estimate???? They don't know how much they are paying but just give away some more. Anyway, take the 20,000 and you pay for 1/2 of a firefighters salary.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ScareCrow57 View Post
    $5,000 is a drop in the bucket and would fund one Salary for maybe a month or two.

    An estimate???? They don't know how much they are paying but just give away some more. Anyway, take the 20,000 and you pay for 1/2 of a firefighters salary.
    The real issue here is not about money, it is about safety. Right now this social club so called volly dept has ONE person qualified to wear a mask. You have another 2 members who went through a basic FF course and completed it, yet only one would be trusted???? You don't see a problem here? There is more to this than money and this dept is doing nothing to ensure the safety of citizens, plain and simple. So I wonder who responds with these clowns? My guess is the paid FF, so if they are responding anyway, providing a higher level of service, then the responsible thing to do is disband the volly company who isn't providing anything than a social network.
    The thoughts and opinions posted here are mine and mine alone and do not reflect the thoughts and or views of city or dept affiliation.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jccrabby3084 View Post
    The real issue here is not about money, it is about safety. Right now this social club so called volly dept has ONE person qualified to wear a mask. You have another 2 members who went through a basic FF course and completed it, yet only one would be trusted???? You don't see a problem here? There is more to this than money and this dept is doing nothing to ensure the safety of citizens, plain and simple. So I wonder who responds with these clowns? My guess is the paid FF, so if they are responding anyway, providing a higher level of service, then the responsible thing to do is disband the volly company who isn't providing anything than a social network.
    Without knowing the area, how they operate, or what service they provide I can't make that judgment. How do you know that he fire company "is doing nothing to ensure the safety of citizens"? Do you know their function in the total scheme of things?

    and after further review (I used Google Maps) I find that the city is a small city in the middle of rural PA. The two departments are within 1/2 mile of each other. Sounds like they are using the volunteer department as a training ground and a place for prospective employees to learn the trade without being paid.
    Last edited by ScareCrow57; 12-05-2009 at 03:34 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ScareCrow57 View Post
    The two departments are within 1/2 mile of each other. Sounds like they are using the volunteer department as a training ground and a place for prospective employees to learn the trade without being paid.
    Based on?
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    What a surprise ... Paid guys saying disband the volunteers.

    Of course, taking the funding spent on the volunteers and putting it into the payroll of the career FD doens;t make any sense, does it.


    And that would pay for ... 1/2 of a paid firefighter. Wise investment given that amount could easily support 10 volunteers.

    Without knowing anything about the operation of the departments and how they interact, you really can't say much about this.

    Sounds like it has the potential to be a very good situation if run correctly. And yes .. it is an other manpower optuion if they need to lay off career personnel, which may become necessary in these times.

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    Actually, I am a Part Timer, who was laid off for the season.

    Having ONE SCBA certified "FF" is not providing any level of service, other then ABC City Slab Savers Dept.

    Place the VFD under full municipal control. Cut those that can't or won't do the job requirements.
    Sell off the extra equipment, better the municipal equipment, and the service provided.

    Waste of taxpayer money, this social club is.

    Face it La, who the frack is gonna volunteer their time in this economy?
    I had to stop to pay my bills, and I love this job. Its not worth it. Sorry, but I'm done getting up at 0300 for an AFA when I have to go to work at 0700.
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    Quote Originally Posted by LaFireEducator View Post
    What a surprise ... Paid guys saying disband the volunteers.

    Of course, taking the funding spent on the volunteers and putting it into the payroll of the career FD doens;t make any sense, does it.


    And that would pay for ... 1/2 of a paid firefighter. Wise investment given that amount could easily support 10 volunteers.

    Without knowing anything about the operation of the departments and how they interact, you really can't say much about this.

    Sounds like it has the potential to be a very good situation if run correctly. And yes .. it is an other manpower optuion if they need to lay off career personnel, which may become necessary in these times.
    The funding used for the "social club" could be placed into an OT account.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ScareCrow57 View Post
    Without knowing the area, how they operate, or what service they provide I can't make that judgment. How do you know that he fire company "is doing nothing to ensure the safety of citizens"? Do you know their function in the total scheme of things?

    Quite simple when there is only ONE person on the whole department who is qualified to wear and SCBA, screams the fact this dept is not doing anything for the safety of the citizens. The dept can't operate at all for an offensive operation, they don't have enough people to go in, let alone satisfy 2 in 2 out. You have 4 people go to a basic FF course, 2 passed, but only one may be trusted? Yep, just the people I want coming for me.

    As someone stated on another site....this is not a fire dept, this is a mob with access to water.
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    Quote Originally Posted by LaFireEducator View Post
    What a surprise ... Paid guys saying disband the volunteers.

    Of course, taking the funding spent on the volunteers and putting it into the payroll of the career FD doens;t make any sense, does it.


    And that would pay for ... 1/2 of a paid firefighter. Wise investment given that amount could easily support 10 volunteers.

    Without knowing anything about the operation of the departments and how they interact, you really can't say much about this.

    Sounds like it has the potential to be a very good situation if run correctly. And yes .. it is an other manpower optuion if they need to lay off career personnel, which may become necessary in these times.

    Well first let's see how necessary these vollys would be to take over for career guys when they can't even satisfy 2 in 2 out. You can't even get all people to be trained to wear an SCBA, this doesn't sound like some new issue, but something ongoing. You can't even get enough volunteers now, what makes you even think they can get more if career guys are laid off? You are surprisinly clueless.

    As for the paid guys saying disband the volunteers....in this case that is EXACTLY what I'm saying. Based upon the facts I have already mentioned, these vollies can't even go in, and while you are all for no offensive type of operations, the mere simple fact is that being qualified in SCBA is a basic FF skill. This dept has ONE guy qualified to wear a mask. So where is this benefit to the community? Where is this dept providing a service when the family states there is a kid still inside. This dept can't provide that service.

    I am not going around saying that volly departments need to be disbanded, but in this case I say yes. You have a career dept, most likely already providing the services that this social club can't even attempt, but this dept has also shown it is incapable of performing the basic FF duties to even provide a service to the community. Seems it would be more cost effective to just have the the career dept take over and provide a tangible service, rather than waste money for people to gather, dress up like a FF, but can't do the job.
    The thoughts and opinions posted here are mine and mine alone and do not reflect the thoughts and or views of city or dept affiliation.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jccrabby3084 View Post
    The real issue here is not about money, it is about safety. Right now this social club so called volly dept has ONE person qualified to wear a mask. You have another 2 members who went through a basic FF course and completed it, yet only one would be trusted???? You don't see a problem here? There is more to this than money and this dept is doing nothing to ensure the safety of citizens, plain and simple. So I wonder who responds with these clowns? My guess is the paid FF, so if they are responding anyway, providing a higher level of service, then the responsible thing to do is disband the volly company who isn't providing anything than a social network.
    Also, if both depts respond together, the vollies are even more of a risk. The career guys need to watch out for them as well as possible fire casualties and fight the fire. Like you say, something else is at play here.

  17. #17
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    Post Well...........

    I'm sure that those of you who know me would agree that it's hard to find someone who is more "Pro-VFD" than I am. BUT, There's a problem here folks, and it needs to get fixed, and the sooner the better. I'm not much on Local Politics in PA, in fact, what I do know makes me glad I live in Maryland, but I fail to understand how the City can claim that they have no control over the Volunteers. Crazy. These folks need to determine what Standards the Volunteers need to meet, Establish the Standards as a part of the Local Laws of the City, and set a Timetable to get them into compliance, or they're gone. Here, You need to wear a SCBA to ride, except for a time frame when you are in Initial training. Same for EMT Certification, and Firefighter 1. You want to be an Officer? National Pro Board Fire Officer Standards must be met (I have a NBFSPQ Cert as a FO IV) along with experience, AND, continuing Ed. each year. These requirements are set by Law. There is simply no excuse for Volunteers not to be well trained for the Stuff that they encounter in their area. A Rural VFD in a small village surrounded by Farms doesn't need to train in High Rise Building Fire Suppression, and the City Boys may not need "Brush Fires 101", but they need to be able to deal with what they respond on regularly........

    Several Posters mentioned that Recruiting Volunteers is real tough in this economic climate that we're in right now. For whatever reason, we are in "Boom Times" for new Volunteers here. The 1st quarter of this Fiscal Year, (July, August, & September '09) we've had 380 New Applications, County Wide. That translates to 3 Applicants per VFD, per month, and it appears to be continuing at the same pace........ Why??..... No Idea.....
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    Chief, quit talking about common sense, responsibility to the citizens we protect, and eliminating the good ol boys club.
    There is no room for that here.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ScareCrow57 View Post
    Without knowing the area, how they operate, or what service they provide I can't make that judgment.
    How has that EVER kept you from making judgments and stupid comments in the past?
    "They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." -- Benjamin Franklin

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    Post .........................

    Quote Originally Posted by marcuskspn View Post
    how has that ever kept you from making judgments and stupid comments in the past?


    ouch......
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    Why in the world wouldn't the city say that they're no longer going to support an independent volunteer fire company and then direct the town's fire department to start a volunteer program of their own. They would have full control over training, etc. and probably be a lot more efficient than trying to maintain two separate departments in the same town.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BLSboy View Post
    Face it La, who the frack is gonna volunteer their time in this economy?
    Our recruitment is unaffected by the economy. It's the same as it ever was, or perhaps slightly better.

    I don't know that a downturn affects volunteer recruitment. I can see why some might think so, but it's not being seen here.
    I am now a past chief and the views, opinions, and comments are mine and mine alone. I do not speak for any department or in any official capacity. Although, they would be smart to listen to me.

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    Chief, I was an active volunteer, made as many calls as I possibly could. However, I had to cut that out, I have to pay back Medic school loans, and face it, my job security, despite being a Medic in this state, isn't as strong as I would like it to be, so securing myself a sizeable fall back amount of money is also above volunteering.
    Do I miss it?
    Some things, but getting money in the bank is just a priority now.
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    We have had over 20 new members this year, without any type of recruiting campaign.

    Some simply walked off the street and some were referrals.

    This has been one of our best years in a while, in terms of both quantity and quality.

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    Quote Originally Posted by hwoods View Post
    I'm sure that those of you who know me would agree that it's hard to find someone who is more "Pro-VFD" than I am. BUT, There's a problem here folks, and it needs to get fixed, and the sooner the better. I'm not much on Local Politics in PA, in fact, what I do know makes me glad I live in Maryland, but I fail to understand how the City can claim that they have no control over the Volunteers. Crazy. These folks need to determine what Standards the Volunteers need to meet, Establish the Standards as a part of the Local Laws of the City, and set a Timetable to get them into compliance, or they're gone. Here, You need to wear a SCBA to ride, except for a time frame when you are in Initial training. Same for EMT Certification, and Firefighter 1. You want to be an Officer? National Pro Board Fire Officer Standards must be met (I have a NBFSPQ Cert as a FO IV) along with experience, AND, continuing Ed. each year. These requirements are set by Law. There is simply no excuse for Volunteers not to be well trained for the Stuff that they encounter in their area. A Rural VFD in a small village surrounded by Farms doesn't need to train in High Rise Building Fire Suppression, and the City Boys may not need "Brush Fires 101", but they need to be able to deal with what they respond on regularly........

    Several Posters mentioned that Recruiting Volunteers is real tough in this economic climate that we're in right now. For whatever reason, we are in "Boom Times" for new Volunteers here. The 1st quarter of this Fiscal Year, (July, August, & September '09) we've had 380 New Applications, County Wide. That translates to 3 Applicants per VFD, per month, and it appears to be continuing at the same pace........ Why??..... No Idea.....
    I'm pretty high up there on the Pro Volly scale as well, and agree with everything you said. I think there should be NO difference in standards for career v volunteer firefighters/fire officers....period.

    VFDs in this boat have to stop making excuses or living in the past. These guys (and any others like them) have to either step up or step out.


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