Since I've been doing this, I've been on three volunteer departments. Two of them had duty nights (6pm-6am, weekend duty would vary), and you knew this when you joined those departments. For those members who had jobs or other legitimate responsibilities that would not let them run a regular duty night, they either pulled daytime hours, or would schedule to pull 4-hour duty shifts when they had a chance to.
There is nothing unethical about being required to pull a duty crew. The rules should be applied equally to all members, or should have a graduated application dependent on years of service. No one WANTS to go to work tired the next day after toting a drunk at 3AM, but unfortunately, sometimes sleep is one of the sacrifices we make as volunteer members.
I have to agree with Eng34FF, propose a change to the policy if you feel that it will benefit the entire department.
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08-19-2010, 01:48 AM #21Career Fire Captain
Volunteer Chief Officer
Never taking for granted that I'm privileged enough to have the greatest job in the world!
08-19-2010, 12:44 PM #22
- Join Date
- Jan 2004
My department doesn't have the call volume to necessitate duty crews so please correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't the point of a duty crew so that the same people aren't having to sacrifice sleep every night for boo boo and band aid calls?
So you're tired one day a week at work. Man up! With a paged from home response you might get to sleep every night, or you might get called out every night... or 3 times every night. And we do notice who is conspicuously absent at those 3am calls!
*cranky from being at work after being out on a call all night*
08-19-2010, 02:20 PM #23
I would bring your concerns up with your leadership. You may be able to bring about some changes if you're able to express your concerns intelligently and provide alternatives. If you can come across as "I'll do whatever needs to be done, but wouldn't it be smarter if...." rather than "I don't want to ride the Whambolance at 3am!" might make things better for everyone.So you call this your free country
Tell me why it costs so much to live
08-19-2010, 04:37 PM #24
I'll echo what BoxAlarm said.
Came from a department with similar setup.
Combination: Paid M-F 0600-1900
Volunteer: Any other time
The community had exhausted the available resources of volunteers and expanded a program for people outside of the district to apply and respond. This led to a 5 section rotation (duty every 5th night) where we would be required to stay overnight at the station. The whole month and months to come were laid out for you and there was no doubt when you were expected to be there. If you needed a particular night off, you had to go thru the proper channels which usually wasn't a problem.
Over time, there were members who couldn't make the traditional night requirements and rode with the day crews or floated their night tours.
These are issues you need to bring up via your chain of command. I don't think any of us are seeing it as "unethical".
08-19-2010, 05:09 PM #25
- Join Date
- Jul 2010
We have a squad schedule as well, but it is more fair. The entire department is divided into three squads, each with its own officer. Our department does have a paid staffed ambulance 24/7, so the volunteers are only needed if there is a second medical call, or assistance is needed with the ambulance. The intent is so the same guys are not stuck showing up night after night for medical and auto alarm calls. The entire department is expected to respond for other calls at night.
08-19-2010, 10:40 PM #26
Unless they are in some way preventing you from quitting, it's "ethical". It may not be "right", but I dont see any obvious ethics problem.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.
"The last thing I want to do is hurt you. But it's still on the list."
"When tempted to fight fire with fire, remember that the Fire Department usually uses water."
08-20-2010, 12:45 AM #27
- Join Date
- Sep 2009
With the state of the economy, expect volunteers to be "required" to perform certain duties.
A small career FD where I live is reducing its career personnel from 14 to 11. Government entities (cities, etc.) are hurting financially and will be looking to use volunteers to fill-in the gaps or for extra manpower/staffing.
Does your FD pay you for calls? Does the FD have other benefits, such as a retirement program? If the FD is requiring you to perform shift duty, without pay and/or benefits, you should ask if some type of renumeration can be made in pay and/or benefit(s).
IMHO, it is ethical to require a volunteer to perform a duty shift, but some type of renumeration should be made, if the practice is long term. You are saving the community from hiring full-time personnel to do what you "volunteer" to do.
I do think that only requiring the newest members to do this duty is wrong. ALL members should be doing the shifts.
Last edited by FIRE117; 08-20-2010 at 12:47 AM.
08-20-2010, 03:05 PM #28
Our district recently implemented a policy where the officers share 'duty time'.
We have a paid chief and all others are volunteers. The chief is the duty officer during the week (24x5hrs) and the remaining 7 officers rotate duty on weekends. No pay, stipend, reimbursement, perks etc. We have an officers pickup that we take home. We must remain in the district and able to respond at all times. Holiday weekends are 3 day commitments.
Having an officer on duty at all times assures that a qualified person capeable of IC duties will be responding.
It is a pain in the arse but it has a definate upside. Guaranteed 24\7 response. Not long ago it was not uncommon to have no response simply because no one was in town and available.
At times I am bitter about being a volunteer that is required to give up so much personal time but the improvement in community service is obvious so I\we just deal with it. I often perform my other firehouse chores such as apparatus maintanance on my duty weekends since I have to be there anyhow.My wise and profound comments and opinions are mine alone and are in no way associated with any other individual or group.
08-22-2010, 02:29 PM #29
- Join Date
- Mar 2010
Regardless if it's a bogus rule, the Department does have the authority to do it, even for volunteer departments. We may not agree with it, but it's the Chief's/Officer's/Board of Trustee's decision to make.
It's good that you want to volunteer for your community, but you signed up for this. Nobody made you, it's part of the job that you volunteer for. Saying you'll be on the department and not going to do the schedule is like volunteering for the Red Cross and saying "But I won't do disaster relief". It's part of the job.
I understand opposition to this; I'm a volunteer myself, and I used to do the unpaid duty crew shifts with the ambulance in my home town. But I also understand why a Department would want to implement it, and I would even support it in some cases, such as (like has been said) the same 6 guys running all the calls, or faultering response times. We sign up for this job (because that's what it is, even though we're volunteers) and we have expectations that have to be met.
08-22-2010, 08:29 PM #30
- Join Date
- Apr 2004
- Bossier Parrish, Louisiana
In a broad sense, the entire Volunteer Fire Service is that way in most states. You volunteer to a department but you are required by state law to be trained to a certain level of competency (Usually FF I or above).
Just as a point of information, most states do not require any training for volunteers. A few require a minimum course of less than 32 hours. In fact there are 10-12 states that have no mandated training levels for career. This was determined by the Indiana Fire Training Authority several years ago.
As far as the issue at hand, mandated duty nights do pose issues. Most departments use them to guarantee coverage, but they can also drive members away.
Do they work? I guess it depends on who you ask.
We have sleeping quarters in our main station and allow members to volunteer to ride-outs. Most nights we have 2-3. Some nights we have 4-5. Every once in awhile we have none and the lone career guy is alone, except for the parish medic crew housed in our station as well.
09-02-2010, 10:56 PM #31
- Join Date
- Sep 2010
I am from a Vol/Career fire Dept. We make around 3000 runs per year. We require 3 trainings per month, 32 hours ride time or 20 % of runs for the month. Our training division offers 8 trainings per month. Our guys receive a small reimbursement fee for everything they do. We want our guys to show up for training. " Train like you fight---Fight like you train "
09-10-2010, 10:00 AM #32
- Join Date
- Jan 2009
In my department, a rural, all-volunteer department, we try to set the attitude that participation is like a part-time job. We use an interview process for candidates, the candidates are given copies of SOP/SOGs and a booklet called "Guide for New Firefighters," and they sign a statement indicating their receipt of them and pledging their intent to follow SOP/SOGs and be an "active" member. We do not have a duty schedule. Our officers operate as though they are supervisors in a workplace. We encourage, teach, coach, mentor and, when necessary direct and mandate. We're fortunate, I suppose, that we have high-quality members who are both farmers and non-farm individuals who are committed to the job as though they were being paid. They accept direction and follow policy because it is presented properly, and because it is implemented for their safety. The best way to recruit and retain active volunteers is to work at having something for them to do (so they don't lose interest), and to recognize and reward them for their efforts.
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