1. #1
    Forum Member

    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Posts
    4

    Exclamation Conflict in Combination Department

    First off, I want to say BY NO MEANS am i bashing volunteers, because up until a few month a was one, and i still consider myself one, but that is for latter.

    I am a Career Firefighter for a Combination fire department in texas, We have a duty crew of around 6 part time guys and 2 full time on 3 man shifts (Days 8-5) and around TOTAL of 20 volunteer ff's(10 Active) including the 7 volunteer officers. I am 20 yrs old and fresh out of the academy ... all things were fine until i got out of the academy and started working at The same department i volunteer for as a DUTY CREW FIREFIGHTER. I have realized that this was a bad Idea.

    We have had a 3 man duty crew on days (8-5) for 5 years, and Our board of commissioners have recently been talking about putting a night crew on as well.

    Our department has 1 career fire chief, 2 Asst. Volunteer Chiefs, 2 Career captains, 2 volunteer captains, and 3 volunteer Lieutenants. Duty Crew Firefighters, and Volunteer Firefighters.

    I am the only Paid guy that also runs calls at night as volunteer. The volunteer command structure is

    Career Chief
    Ast. Chiefs
    Captains
    Lieutenants
    Firefighters

    I was told by my Career Captain that ALL Duty Crew members Outrank ALL Volunteer officers, that is why all duty crew wear red helmets just as captains.

    (In texas the TCFP is the cert agency for Career FF's u must complete the 600+ hr academy before testing and have completed ur EMT-B Course, none of our volunteers hold a commission cert. all duty crew members do.)

    I was ORDERED by a volunteer LT. on a fire scene to do something i felt was UNSAFE, and asked if we could discuss it and and was told that was the proper course of action. I refused as i believed it was a LIFE SAFETY issue and was later reprimanded by the Volunteer Assistant Chief for refusing to do it.

    The Chain of command is kinda sketchy...

    Was told by the volunteer chief that,

    I report to the Volunteer officers all of the time even while on shift, along with career officers BUT ONLY ME, not the other career ff's just me, becasue i volunteer too. like this

    ME

    Car. Chief 1
    Vol. Asst. Chief 2&3
    Car. Capt. 1&2
    Vol. Capt. 3&4
    Vol. LT.
    ME (Duty Crew FF)
    Vol. FF

    Duty Crew Chain of command (SOP)

    Car. Chief 1
    Car. Capt. 1 & 2
    Car. Firefighter
    Vol. Chief 2 & 3
    Vol. Capt. 3&4
    Vol. LT.
    Vol. FF

    I have decided that i might stop volunteering for the agency and go career only. But fear that I might loose my job over it.

    Does anyone else around the country have these kind of problems...

    and as i said I AM NOT VOLUNTEER BASHING !!!

    Thanks

  2. #2
    Forum Member
    GTRider245's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Location
    Augusta,GA
    Posts
    3,060

    Default

    So, if I am reading this correctly, you volunteer for the same department you work for?
    Career Firefighter
    Volunteer Captain

    -Professional in Either Role-

    Quote Originally Posted by Rescue101 View Post
    I don't mind fire rolling over my head. I just don't like it rolling UNDER my a**.

  3. #3
    Forum Member

    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Posts
    123

    Default

    Sounds like the whole place is jacked up and there are too many officers. You shouldn't volunteer where you work. Certainly there is a neighboring department where you can volunteer.

  4. #4
    Forum Member

    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Posts
    56

    Default

    What is your job title while working and what is your job title while volunteering?

  5. #5
    Forum Member

    Join Date
    Apr 2004
    Location
    Bossier Parrish, Louisiana
    Posts
    10,617

    Default

    Combo department here where an officer is an officer regardless of pay status.

    Chief - Volunteer
    Deputy Chief- Career
    Asst Chief- Volunteer
    8 Captains - 3 Career Shift Captains, remainder Volunteer
    Senior Firefighters (Act as Lts) - All volunteer except myself

    We keep it simply.

    The chief outranks everyone. The DC outranks everyone except the chief. The volunteer Asst. Chief outranks all the Captains, including the paid ones.

    It's really very simple here.


    I was ORDERED by a volunteer LT. on a fire scene to do something i felt was UNSAFE, and asked if we could discuss it and and was told that was the proper course of action. I refused as i believed it was a LIFE SAFETY issue and was later reprimanded by the Volunteer Assistant Chief for refusing to do it


    You have that right irregardless of your of his rank or pay status.

    Does anyone else around the country have these kind of problems..


    We don't. Sounds like a bad situation.

    As far as volunteering, all 5 of our paid staff makes runs as volunteers.

  6. #6
    MembersZone Subscriber

    Join Date
    May 2005
    Posts
    1,167

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by beyoung90 View Post
    I have decided that i might stop volunteering for the agency and go career only. But fear that I might loose my job over it.

    Does anyone else around the country have these kind of problems...
    If I am not mistaken once you are a full time employee, under federal labor law, you cannot work without being paid. This was put in place to avoid employers from forcing the employee from working without being paid. I will try and locate the statue.
    If you have a county attorney you may want to consult him.

    Here is some light reading on the subject.. FLSA Ruling

    P.S. If they terminate you after bring this to their attention you could have a wrongful termination suit. If you are going to pursue this you may want to consult a labor attorney.
    Last edited by Acklan; 01-19-2010 at 09:11 PM. Reason: Addition

  7. #7
    MembersZone Subscriber

    Join Date
    May 2000
    Location
    SW MO
    Posts
    4,249

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Acklan View Post
    If I am not mistaken once you are a full time employee, under federal labor law, you cannot work without being paid. This was put in place to avoid employers from forcing the employee from working without being paid. I will try and locate the statue.
    If you have a county attorney you may want to consult him.

    Here is some light reading on the subject.. FLSA Ruling

    P.S. If they terminate you after bring this to their attention you could have a wrongful termination suit. If you are going to pursue this you may want to consult a labor attorney.
    If you are a paid employee, you are not allowed to volunteer to do the same job for the same employer. It's illegal and can get your employer in a world of poo.

    If you are doing ANYTHING for the department, you need to be on the clock. That's not only to protect you, but to protect them. That is true of any other paid staff the department may have, as well.

    If you want to volunteer, find another department to do it at.

  8. #8
    MembersZone Subscriber

    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    SW Missouri
    Posts
    1,156

    Unhappy

    I work for a combo as well. Here is our pecking order.

    Chief
    Dept Chief
    Asst Chief (operations)
    Asst Chief (training)
    Shift Capt
    Vol Lt
    Engineers
    Vollies

    On a scene the IC is in charge, it may very well be a shift Captian, giving orders to a Chief. It can also be the Vol Lt as IC or it could be a vollie that was first on the scene and established command (and is left in command by a Capt or a Chief officer that is on the scene).

    Now for day to day operations, if the Vol Lt needs something done by the career staff he requests it from the shift Capt or through the ops office. They in turn tell him if and when it will be done. The Lt does not give orders to us on day to day operations.

    As for the saftey question. ANYONE can inform the IC of anything that they see as unsafe or feel will be unsafe. The IC will then look at what is being addressed to them and make changes as needed.

    Now for the can of worms. According to FLSA you cannot be an employee and volunteer for the same department. When you cross into the paid world it changes alot of things. Many people and departments do what you are doing and many do not. For our department if we are called in or respond to a call that is on the "you can come without being invited list", we are on the clock.

  9. #9
    Forum Member

    Join Date
    Apr 2004
    Location
    Bossier Parrish, Louisiana
    Posts
    10,617

    Default

    During the day, I report to the DC, as I am classified as administration, not line.

    The DC delegates tasks to the career Shift Captain, who manages the part-time daytime firefighter and any volunteers doing rideout time.

    In the event of a call, the DC is IC if he rolls, which is generally only for serious MVAs and fires. Otherwise, the career Shift Captain is IC unless the volunteer AC rolls. In that case, he is in charge.

    At a scene, I report to the shift captain.

  10. #10
    Forum Member

    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Posts
    56

    Default

    Many departments work around the FLSA by hiring the day crew as "janitors" or "house men". They have non firefighting duties such as cleaning and general maintenance while on the clock but are permitted to "volunteer" with the department and respond to all runs. I know many department around Philly due this. Im not exactly sure how their titles and job duties are worded but this is the jist.

  11. #11
    Forum Member

    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Posts
    56

    Default

    I am not a fan of any rank structure where a lower ranking member out ranks a higher ranking member based on pay status. If they are qualified to hold that rank, it shouldnt matter they pay status.

  12. #12
    MembersZone Subscriber

    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    SW Missouri
    Posts
    1,156

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Send in the Hook View Post
    Many departments work around the FLSA by hiring the day crew as "janitors" or "house men". They have non firefighting duties such as cleaning and general maintenance while on the clock but are permitted to "volunteer" with the department and respond to all runs. I know many department around Philly due this. Im not exactly sure how their titles and job duties are worded but this is the jist.
    I am a engineer. That includes but not limited to....

    Janitor.
    Truck detail tec.
    Lawn care tec.
    Truck repairman.
    Building mait.
    Ect, ect, ect.

    Somewhere way down this list I am an engineer. I love my job and won't trade it for anything in the world.

  13. #13
    MembersZone Subscriber

    Join Date
    May 2000
    Location
    SW MO
    Posts
    4,249

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Send in the Hook View Post
    Many departments work around the FLSA by hiring the day crew as "janitors" or "house men". They have non firefighting duties such as cleaning and general maintenance while on the clock but are permitted to "volunteer" with the department and respond to all runs. I know many department around Philly due this. Im not exactly sure how their titles and job duties are worded but this is the jist.
    Until someone decides to push it...

  14. #14
    Forum Member

    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Posts
    56

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Catch22 View Post
    Until someone decides to push it...
    Most are probably thrilled to have a "paid" ff job.

  15. #15
    Forum Member

    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Posts
    4

    Default

    I am not a fan of any rank structure where a lower ranking member out ranks a higher ranking member based on pay status. If they are qualified to hold that rank, it shouldnt matter they pay status.
    I agree one hundred percent, we have some VERY Knowladgeable people in our department, but most of them arent officers most of our volunteers are put into office by the "Good Ole Boy" System and such. One of our LT.'s (The one in question) has no certs, acept for NIMS Is-200,700 and 1 year of volunteer experience. Our ESD Board just approved to put LT's into our command structure, but advised the Volunteer chief pushing for i they did not agree and would see how it turned out. ...

  16. #16
    Forum Member
    confire's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    Northern Indiana
    Posts
    329

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by beyoung90 View Post

    I am 20 yrs old and fresh out of the academy ...
    Just hired and 20 Y/o. and youíre already whining about the chain of command

    After youíve been around a few years then work to change things but in the meantime just do the job. If you canít do that Iím sure you can find another career firefighting position. So many to choose from right now.

  17. #17
    Forum Member

    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Posts
    4

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by confire View Post
    Just hired and 20 Y/o. and you’re already whining about the chain of command

    After you’ve been around a few years then work to change things but in the meantime just do the job. If you can’t do that I’m sure you can find another career firefighting position. So many to choose from right now.
    ... And you are Completely and without a doubt RIGHT !!! I am young, and as an instructor one said "How Big is your Box ...?" Well mine is still small, Like a shoe box you could say, but enough about boxes... I was just pointing out a flaw in the combination department and seeing how other departments handle conflits of this nature ... But as im 20 and hold a TCFP and have the hours to show I've been through and earned a certification, our Vol. LT.'s are 18yo, 19yo, and 19yo with no certs except for one, with his ECA (NREMT-FR)
    Last edited by beyoung90; 01-20-2010 at 08:54 AM.

  18. #18
    MembersZone Subscriber

    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Northeast Coast
    Posts
    3,860

    Default

    I've worked fulltime for a combination FD for 15 years. In our dept. rank is rank. This has caused minor turmoil for as long as I've been there. We have Vol. Capt's that out rank FT Lt's and Vol. Lt's that outrank FT firefighters. The issue is that career officers must pass significant testing to attain rank, while in the past, the vol. officers were appointed after an interview process.

    For the most part, the volunteer officers in our dept. defer to the career personnel. This works well, except that we have to warn the vol. officers that they are still "responsible" as their rank indicates.

    I think the easy answer is look in your SOP/SOG manual and find the organizational chart with the structure and where you fit in. Of course if it was that easy, you'd probably have done this. Next best thing, try to go to the top. Nothing like hearing the Chief put down the final word, and try and gingerly tell him that maybe the whole FD needs to hear this, regardless of what they want. It cannot be both ways, and a good leader will make sure everyone knows their place.

  19. #19
    Forum Member

    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Posts
    4

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by RFDACM02 View Post
    I've worked fulltime for a combination FD for 15 years. In our dept. rank is rank. This has caused minor turmoil for as long as I've been there. We have Vol. Capt's that out rank FT Lt's and Vol. Lt's that outrank FT firefighters. The issue is that career officers must pass significant testing to attain rank, while in the past, the vol. officers were appointed after an interview process.

    For the most part, the volunteer officers in our dept. defer to the career personnel. This works well, except that we have to warn the vol. officers that they are still "responsible" as their rank indicates.

    I think the easy answer is look in your SOP/SOG manual and find the organizational chart with the structure and where you fit in. Of course if it was that easy, you'd probably have done this. Next best thing, try to go to the top. Nothing like hearing the Chief put down the final word, and try and gingerly tell him that maybe the whole FD needs to hear this, regardless of what they want. It cannot be both ways, and a good leader will make sure everyone knows their place.
    You would be correct In our SOG, it only says that duty crew personel report to the district board, and are the "Designated agents of the Emergency Servies District." On going to the chief, im trying to "Follow the proper chain of command " on the volunteer side as to not step on anybodys toes, so ive gone through an LT, a Capt, and am talking to a chief in a little while.

    Thanks for the help and insight guys

  20. #20
    MembersZone Subscriber

    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    CO
    Posts
    656

    Default

    I'd advise against going to the Chief. In my department that would be an instant reprimand. If your direct supervisor won't address your issues, tell him as much and ask what you should do next.

    If I were in this situation, I'd keep my mouth shut and do my job.

    Of course, if given an unnecessary, unsafe assignment, you MUST have the ability to refuse. Give your reasons and let the chips fall where they may. In my department, we have a culture that supports this and nobody will ever be called to the carpet for it, provided they follow the correct procedure.

  21. #21
    55 Years & Still Rolling
    hwoods's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2002
    Location
    Glenn Dale Md, Heart of the P.G. County Fire Belt....
    Posts
    10,739

    Thumbs up And.............

    We're also a Combination Department, but on a County-Wide Level. Chain of Command is:
    County Chief - Career
    County D/C - Career
    Major (Formerly Known as Division Chiefs) - Some Career, Some Volunteer
    VFD Chief One for each Volunteer Organization - Volunteer
    VFD Deputy Chief - Same as VFD Chief - Volunteer
    VFD Assistant Chief - One for each Station - Volunteer
    Battalion Chief - Some Career, Some Volunteer
    Captain - Some Career, Some Volunteer
    Lieutenant - Some Career, Some Volunteer
    Fire Technicians - Some Career, Some Volunteer
    Firefighters - Some Career, Some Volunteer

    You operate at your assigned Rank - Career or Volunteer is Irrelevant.
    If two Captains are Present, the one that is "First Due" is in charge, pending the Arrival of a Chief Officer. (Or, maybe no Chief responds, based on the call type)........

    An interesting note is the way folks work at the Low end of the Chain. I stepped down as a Chief Officer last June after almost 30 years. I still Drive and/or Ride because: A- I'm still capable of doing the job, according to my Doctor, and B- I want to enjoy the little things in life, like being on the Nozzle again. A few times I've found myself being asked to take Command, due to lack of an Officer at that point.......... Everyone seems to work together pretty well, without any BS Problems...........
    Never use Force! Get a Bigger Hammer.
    In memory of
    Chief Earle W. Woods, 1912 - 1997
    Asst. Chief John R. Woods Sr. 1937 - 2006

    IACOJ Budget Analyst

    I Refuse to be a Spectator. If I come to the Game, I'm Playing.

    www.gdvfd18.com

  22. #22
    MembersZone Subscriber

    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Northeast Coast
    Posts
    3,860

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Firetacoma1 View Post
    I'd advise against going to the Chief. In my department that would be an instant reprimand. If your direct supervisor won't address your issues, tell him as much and ask what you should do next.
    I would normally agree, but in a small FD where two officers in the firefighters chain of command are giving two different answers, there seems to be an issue that requires a higher authority. Unless so one can produce a document detailing the structure, you are at the mercy of these officer's whims. I think the OP asked and got his questioned answered by his direct supervisor, so it comes down to an issue that arises on the fireground when yet another officer fails to follow the rules as the Capt. presented them. While the OP may have an issue, really the whole FD has an issue if this kind of stuff happens and cannot be resolved quickly.

  23. #23
    Forum Member
    CaptOldTimer's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 1999
    Location
    Virginia
    Posts
    7,243

    Exclamation

    Quote Originally Posted by beyoung90 View Post
    First off, I want to say BY NO MEANS am i bashing volunteers, because up until a few month a was one, and i still consider myself one, but that is for latter.

    I am a Career Firefighter for a Combination fire department in texas, We have a duty crew of around 6 part time guys and 2 full time on 3 man shifts (Days 8-5) and around TOTAL of 20 volunteer ff's(10 Active) including the 7 volunteer officers. I am 20 yrs old and fresh out of the academy ... all things were fine until i got out of the academy and started working at The same department i volunteer for as a DUTY CREW FIREFIGHTER. I have realized that this was a bad Idea.

    We have had a 3 man duty crew on days (8-5) for 5 years, and Our board of commissioners have recently been talking about putting a night crew on as well.

    Our department has 1 career fire chief, 2 Asst. Volunteer Chiefs, 2 Career captains, 2 volunteer captains, and 3 volunteer Lieutenants. Duty Crew Firefighters, and Volunteer Firefighters.

    I am the only Paid guy that also runs calls at night as volunteer. The volunteer command structure is

    Career Chief
    Ast. Chiefs
    Captains
    Lieutenants
    Firefighters

    I was told by my Career Captain that ALL Duty Crew members Outrank ALL Volunteer officers, that is why all duty crew wear red helmets just as captains.

    (In texas the TCFP is the cert agency for Career FF's u must complete the 600+ hr academy before testing and have completed ur EMT-B Course, none of our volunteers hold a commission cert. all duty crew members do.)

    I was ORDERED by a volunteer LT. on a fire scene to do something i felt was UNSAFE, and asked if we could discuss it and and was told that was the proper course of action. I refused as i believed it was a LIFE SAFETY issue and was later reprimanded by the Volunteer Assistant Chief for refusing to do it.

    The Chain of command is kinda sketchy...

    Was told by the volunteer chief that,

    I report to the Volunteer officers all of the time even while on shift, along with career officers BUT ONLY ME, not the other career ff's just me, becasue i volunteer too. like this

    ME

    Car. Chief 1
    Vol. Asst. Chief 2&3
    Car. Capt. 1&2
    Vol. Capt. 3&4
    Vol. LT.
    ME (Duty Crew FF)
    Vol. FF

    Duty Crew Chain of command (SOP)

    Car. Chief 1
    Car. Capt. 1 & 2
    Car. Firefighter
    Vol. Chief 2 & 3
    Vol. Capt. 3&4
    Vol. LT.
    Vol. FF

    I have decided that i might stop volunteering for the agency and go career only. But fear that I might loose my job over it.

    Does anyone else around the country have these kind of problems...

    and as i said I AM NOT VOLUNTEER BASHING !!!

    Thanks


    This being your first post too! Pitiful!!

    Learn to spell and use proper grammar, sentence structure. It appears that you may be in high school as well. Stay there and pay more attention to you teachers. They are there to help you get ready for this world you are about to go forth into!

    BTW - Stop the bellyaching son.

    Stay Safe and Well Out There....

    Always remembering 9-11-2001 and 343+ Brothers

  24. #24
    MembersZone Subscriber

    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    CO
    Posts
    656

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by RFDACM02 View Post
    I would normally agree, but in a small FD where two officers in the firefighters chain of command are giving two different answers, there seems to be an issue that requires a higher authority. Unless so one can produce a document detailing the structure, you are at the mercy of these officer's whims. I think the OP asked and got his questioned answered by his direct supervisor, so it comes down to an issue that arises on the fireground when yet another officer fails to follow the rules as the Capt. presented them. While the OP may have an issue, really the whole FD has an issue if this kind of stuff happens and cannot be resolved quickly.
    The department has issues, for sure. Is the new guy really the one to be the squeaky wheel though? IMHO, not if he values his job.

  25. #25
    MembersZone Subscriber

    Join Date
    Jun 2003
    Location
    Irwin, PA
    Posts
    226

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Send in the Hook View Post
    Many departments work around the FLSA by hiring the day crew as "janitors" or "house men". They have non firefighting duties such as cleaning and general maintenance while on the clock but are permitted to "volunteer" with the department and respond to all runs. I know many department around Philly due this. Im not exactly sure how their titles and job duties are worded but this is the jist.
    That is great that they are "permitted to volunteer".

    Are they expected to go on the call? What happens when they decide they don't want to go on a call?

    That is where these cute little ways of trying to skirt the law start to fall apart.
    Thomas Anthony, PE
    Structures Specialist PA-TF1 & PA-ST1
    Paramedic / Rescue Tech North Huntington Twp EMS
    The artist formerly known as Captain 10-2

    No, I am not a water rescue technician, but I stayed in a Holiday Inn Express last night.

Thread Information

Users Browsing this Thread

There are currently 1 users browsing this thread. (0 members and 1 guests)

Similar Threads

  1. Promotion Process
    By the210th in forum Career/Paid Firefighters Forum
    Replies: 3
    Last Post: 06-29-2007, 05:43 PM
  2. Civilian Fire Fatalities
    By DCFF in forum Firefighters Forum
    Replies: 38
    Last Post: 02-08-2002, 08:18 AM
  3. Combination department retirement plan
    By MCFPD900 in forum Fire Politics
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 09-19-2001, 10:48 PM
  4. The Diversity of the Combination Fire Department
    By CaptCo7 in forum Fireground Tactics
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 06-02-2001, 01:37 AM
  5. Replies: 28
    Last Post: 08-07-1999, 04:46 PM

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts

Log in

Click here to log in or register