1. #1
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    Default Combination Dept. How do you respond?

    We are a paid/volunteer dept. with three on duty at all times. We currently respond to all fire calls with an engine, tanker and an equipment van (which contains all turn-out gear and some misc. equipment). We are currently researching ideas of not using the van as an equipment vehicle and having all firefighters respond to the station or possibly keeping the gear with them at all times. How do other depts. of similar size handle this? Any ideas or suggestions are greatly appreciated!

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    The department I am a member of is a combo. with two guys on duty. If it is a call in the city(pop. under 10k) the two on shift roll the two lead engines while the volunteers respond pov. If needed a volunteer will respond to get the rescue which is more or less a carry-all. For a call in the county, one of the shift personell will respond in an engine while volunteers respond to the station to get the tankers and rescue. Some of the volunteers that cannot drive units will respond pov. If we have a call in the county we try and keep at least one of the on-duty guys in town as they are paid buy the city for fire protection for the city and not the county.

    With your situation I would respond with two in the engine and one in the tanker and have a volunteer come and get the rescue. This is how I have seen a lot of area departments run calls with three on shift. Some have the third guy stand by at the station for other calls or additional units if needed.
    Puttin the wet stuff on the red stuff!

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by dacowfd View Post
    We are a paid/volunteer dept. with three on duty at all times. We currently respond to all fire calls with an engine, tanker and an equipment van (which contains all turn-out gear and some misc. equipment). We are currently researching ideas of not using the van as an equipment vehicle and having all firefighters respond to the station or possibly keeping the gear with them at all times. How do other depts. of similar size handle this? Any ideas or suggestions are greatly appreciated!
    Actually, you didn't cover the part about your department's actual size in order to compare. Population. Area. Target hazards.

    Combination department I used to be with had 6 paid staff and ~40 volunteers. Paid staff would cover M-F 0600-1900 on a rotating 8.5 hour shift. They would start out with 2 in the morning rolling out in one engine. As guys would come in at staggered times, they were eventually staffing 2 on the EMS bus (Aid Car) and 3 or 4 on the engine during the middle part of the day. Finishing out the day with just 2 in the engine again. I think they are up to 3 in the morning and late afternoon now.

    This left the volunteers to cover everything during the nights (1900-0600 the next day) and throughout the entire weekend. Those that were around during the day were able to turn out with the paid staff or bring another engine if necessary. Volunteers came in on a regular rotation once every 5 or 6 nights and responded from the station. Each shift having ~6 guys and one volunteer officer.

    This worked pretty well for a 5 square mile area of ~10,000 and had most everything except for a highrise. Mostly residential, surrounded by main roads, major highways, waterfront, trains, light industrial and a small airport just outside the district.

    So it comes back to some of the information still needed:
    What is the size of your department and response area? Are there any apparatus left in the station after your first alarm assignment leaves that someone responding to the station could take? Is your station large enough to put a duty crew up for overnight?

    Good luck.

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    Primarily volunteer combo department operating out of 7 station (1 staffed) covering approx. 180 square miles.

    During the day we have one 24 hour Shift Captain, 1 daytime firefighter, a FT Deputy Chief, and myself, the FT Public Education/Training Coordinator.

    Evenings and overnight we have one paid Shift Captain.

    We usually have a number of volunteers either doing shift ride-outs ot hanging out at the station. They will ride on the apparatus with the paid staff from Central. In some cases, they may handle the call alone and the paid shift and daytime firefighter will remain at Central or in the field handling mainatainence and admin functions. Deputy Chief rarely rolls. I roll as needed for structure fires, serious MVAs and brush fires and vehicle fires in some circumstances.

    EMS calls the volunteers respond via POV direct. We have the district divided into 4 zones. Certain calls get a "zone" response. More serious calls get a full response.

    For fires, drivers head to the vollie stations and get apparatus on the air. Non-drivers respond direct POV.

    All members carry gear in POV with the exception of some vollies and FT personnel that live very close to a station.

    Station response is simply not practical for us due to the size of the district. For us, gear in the POVs works very well.

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    I work for a combo department. We have 4 on shift with a chief that is on call after office hours and the weekend. We send two on the medical truck. For MVA's we send two on the medical truck, one on the rescue truck and one on the engine if the road has a 55 MPH speed limit or higher. For structure fire we send three on the engine and one on the tanker or the second engine. For a grass fire we send two on brush truck, one on a brush truck and one on the engine. The volunteers respond POV to the scene. For calls that require more trucks the volunteers that have completed driver training pick up the other needed trucks from one of the unmanned station.

    We cover 110 square miles that is includes small villages and rural areas with a population of about 13,000. We respond to about 1400 calls a year. For the most part the volunteers don't respond to medical calls unless they are close and the want to respond. The volunteers are used for the larger calls that require manpower.

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    All volunteer department that responds to about 2000 calls, both EMS and Fire/Rescue. All members are to respond to the station first, if they are not there already. Officers are allowed to respond to the scene, but most go to the station.

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    My last full-time gig was in a small, midwest combo department. Covered a city of about 25,000, rural district of another 5,000 or so. Had a little bit of everything; light and heavy industry, rail lines, highways, small airport. 12 career staff (4 a shift, minimum staffing 3, at minimum staffing about 90% of the time) running out of one staffed and one unstaffed station, ALS level EMS transport. About 80 or so volunteers, 15 that were actually active and had some training and ability, the rest knife and fork operators.

    The career staff took care of almost all of the EMS calls, no medics amongst the volunteers and very few EMT's. The volunteers were free to show up at calls, and a few of the 15 or so that were actually active would from time to time, but mostly it was just the career guys.

    On a fire call, it was up to the on duty career supervisor to decide what the response would be. On a "bells and smells" type call it would most often be two-the supervisor and a driver-in the front line engine. On a suspected actual fire, it would almost alway be all three career staff-and what rigs went depended on the type of call and location. Rural structure fires would get the engine and tanker/tender. City fires would probably get just the front line city engine. Volunteers were issued pagers and gear bags and were expected to carry their gear with them and report to the scene. Would make for parking problems on occasion but most of the time worked out okay.

    When the on duty career staff went out, off duty career could come to the station for backup. They would then handle any additional calls that would come in, or respond more apparatus as needed. It was somewhat rare (but not totally unheard of) for one of the volunteers to drive or operate an apparatus.

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    Default More info:

    We cover an area of approximately 17 square miles with a population of 10k. We have lots of industry, one airport, and a good number of multi-family dwellings. being the largest department in the county, we answer a lot of automatic mutual aids as well with the tanker and an engine (if needed) to the rural areas. One other issue is the fact that we will soon be opening a second station in the next few weeks which will change things as well when it comes to responding with different apparatus. We possibly will be adding one more firefighter to each shift bringing the total to four per shift. Not having to respond with the equipment van will allow us to respond with at least two on each truck! Thanks for all the input.

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    Cool My Previous Department

    This is how my previous Department did it.....

    The Career personnel responded on which equipment was most appropriate for the call. The PCF's (Paid Call FFs) would staff their Engine (2nd out Unit) and would either cover the District or respond depending on what was needed.

    On F/G (Vegetation Fires) we usually staffed the Type 4 Patrol and would either respond for Fire Attack or Mop-up. On F/S (Structure Fires) we operated as the 2nd or 3rd In Engine. If it was a working T/C we would augment the Career Crew and also land the Air Ambulance.

    As far as our PPEs went, we kept ours at the Station so that we don't take the carcinogen and other stuff home to our Families. We also discouraged PCFs responding POV unless the call was in their neighborhood due to PPE issues. I've stopped a few times POV in their District even after I left that Department and am always greeted with smiles and hugs. Thank God I left under great terms.....
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    Our combination FD requires that all career personnel report to the station (except chief officers who choose to carry their gear). All call members may take their gear home and respond to the scene, though in practice only one captain has done this in the last 10 years, all others report to the station.

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    My old department was in western new york. It had approx. 32 career FF led by a career chief with approx 25 active volunteers. 5 career FF including an assist. chief were on duty 24/7 in 4 rotating day/night shifts. They drove/operated apparatus to incidents and handled ALL EMS runs. The volunteers and off duty career FF would respond from home via pagers and provide additional staffing at all incidents except for EMS runs. This department provided services to approx. 16,000 residents in a 3 1/2 sq. mile area, mostly residental with some industry and waterfront, it is north of Buffalo, NY

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    We're a fairly large combo dept in southern NJ. Population approx 40k, running around 2500 calls a year. 50 Career, 35'ish volunteer. Two stations staffed 24/7 career, central station staffed M-F 0700-1600. Volunteers staff weeknight duty crews and weekend home response.

    No matter who is staffing the station, or whether its through in-house crews or home response, a crew will take the apparatus needed. Always run of a crew of at least 3.
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    The combination dept I used to belong to had Career/Paid firefighters who operated the apparatus, staffed the station (1 FF/apparatus).....the volunteers made up the firefighting crews. When and alarm came in, the apparatus was dispatched FIRST (over house tones) - so it was usually in route already when the volunteers pagers were activated. Hence, the volunteers carried their gear in their vehicles and responded to the scene. Also, the volunteers were NOT allowed to operate ANY of the apparatus or anything mechanical on the apparatus.......

    Another department in the area is also combination, but with more staffing - the volunteers mostly carried their gear twith them and responded directly to the scene.

    With either - if you were at the firehouse you rode the rig......

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    In my department, all firefighters are on call but paid. There are also single role EMT's who staff the ambulance, as well as dual role FF/EMT's that staff the ambulance as well. There are always two EMT-B or P, or FF/EMT's manning the ambulance (12 hour shifts). As for fires, MVA's, alarms, etc, all FF's respond to the station to dress and roll trucks. The deputy chief and Chief (FT) both respond to the scene.

  15. #15
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    Post And............

    Another View....... We operate a Fire Engine, Rescue Engine, Heavy Rescue Squad, and a BLS Ambulance out of one Station. About 16 Square Mile District, Population around 15,000. A County Paramedic unit (ALS Ambulance) also operates out of our Station. Total call Volume last year, Counting the ALS Unit was around 7,100 Calls, about Half for the ALS Unit, the other half divided between the other Apparatus......

    We have 5 Career FFs on a 5 Day Week (M-F) 0700-1500, with about 40 active Volunteers covering the rest of the hours...... Due to our Call Volume and the Scattered nature of our members living arrangements, our calls are handled by the Crews in the station. A few Members will come to the Station from home, particularly on a "Working Fire". This "Home Response" will provide for an additional crew for whatever is left in the Station.

    Traffic, General "Urbanization" of the area, and other factors slowly killed off our active home response years ago. Prior to our move to our Current Station Location, in 1992, we would get as many as 18-20 people responding to the Station from home on almost any Fire Call. Back then, the Call Volume was below 1,000/Year, and a lot of our Members lived within a couple of Miles of the Station. As an example, Years ago, I lived close enough to the Station to Run down the Street (150 yards) where I'm now 12 miles away. On the other hand, with a "Duty Crew" and "Live Ins" we usually have a decent Crew in the Station, and anyone who might come from home isn't bothered by Alarm Bells and Medic Calls..........
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    My department has 21 career firefighters divided into three shifts with minimum staffing of four covering two engine companies (two & two). We have approximately a dozen volunteers.

    The volunteers keep their gear with them. Generally speaking, if a volunteer has to pass the station to get to the call, he/she will stop at the station to staff an apparatus. If the volunteer has to pass the call to get to the station, he/she will stop at the call. Of course, there are some people that always go to the scene or always go to the station... but the arrangement usually works out well for us.

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