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Thread: Pennsylvania volly dept de-certified

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    Big Griff I was complaining (not bragging) that we had to fund raise for the brush truck and turnout gear. Our municipality doesn't do much of anything for us financially. Every community that uses volunteers should AT LEAST fund the operations and equipment.

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    Quote Originally Posted by FF-Andy View Post
    In the last 5 years, we've bought a new brush truck and turnout gear for 10 guys SOLELY from fundraising.
    And if you had a stable source of funding, how many of those fund raising hours could have been spent training ?
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    Quote Originally Posted by slackjawedyokel View Post
    And if you had a stable source of funding, how many of those fund raising hours could have been spent training ?
    Most, if not all. My Chief has mentioned running for office and changing things. I hope he does.

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    Quote Originally Posted by FF-Andy View Post
    Big Griff I was complaining (not bragging) that we had to fund raise for the brush truck and turnout gear. Our municipality doesn't do much of anything for us financially. Every community that uses volunteers should AT LEAST fund the operations and equipment.
    No worries.. My bad. Hard to tell context of a comment through a screen..

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    FWD, thanks for the info. I had was a little curious what the difference was between a fire company and a fire department, and I think you explained it nicely.

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    Sorry to be the bad guy in this thread, but reading the full article and doing some looking up, I have very little sympathy for the department in question (Longwood, not the original company as there is still too much unknown).

    The chief's biggest complaint appears to be with EMS provision. There are numerous fully paid EMS providers all across PA. They are all able to drive newer equipment, have battery operated stretchers, pay their employees, and all of the fuel costs based solely from billing (yes even Medicare). In the article he states they billed over a million dollars last year. He also lists what each municipality cost them in responses totaling just over $1 million. Is this the same amount that they billed last year? Seems to be pretty close to me. I know the local paid provider runs fewer calls and bills less, but is able to make profit.

    Then read on and also look up their website. They run a '12 Engine (judged best appearing and best equipped), '01 Engine, '99 Heavy, and an '05 ladder (judged best appearing and best equipped). They then say that the 2005 needs replaced. They list over 40 active members plus paid EMS staffing.

    They receive over $130,000 a year on average through Firemen's relief. That is steady, predictable income. They also offer ambulance subscriptions (which only offer a maximum 20% discount) and do a fund drive letter. They never mention chicken BBQ's, dinners, or any other labor intensive fundraising other than sending out letters.

    What I am saying is that under current funding, they have been able to update all of their equipment to newer than most of the rest of the state. Looking through the pictures, they are not buying the base models, but getting quite a few of the extras. If I were to live in the coverage area, I would have to ask how they arrived at their needed numbers, if the EMS side is self sustaining, and how many active member man hours are put into fundraising.

    Everything they have on their site shows that they are as professional as one could ask; requiring high levels of certification, responding to cover other areas when needed, and expanding to meet the needs of the community. I am not trying to say anything disparaging about the company's operations. Please do not interpret any of my post as to mean those things. My question to them is this:
    Can the citizens that you cover (including yourselves) afford the added tax load that you are asking for, and is it necessary for you to continue your operations? Not would it be nice to have more money, but is it worth the increased financial burden on your friends and neighbors.

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    Quote Originally Posted by FyredUp View Post
    Not even close to what I was talking about. You are doing charitable fundraisers, like my Union does at my career FD, not fundraisers to keep your FD afloat. You know to buy equipment, PPE, SCBA, trucks, fuel, pay the utilities and what ever else it takes to run an FD. To me it is absolutely apalling that somesmall rural FDs wouldclose their doors if they didn't fundraise.
    We would be in that boat for sure. Everything we have except for one truck (a wildland pickup that was cost-shared through the Texas Forest Service under HB2604), we have built ourselves. We have fundraisers to get enough money to go to the DoD surplus, get a 6x6, then build the beds, tanks, brush guards, belly pans, and everything else ourselves. Even our station works the same way. We had fundraisers to buy the material for a metal building, then we built it ourselves.

    PPE, SCBA or anything like that we have has either been donated from larger departments retiring it for newer gear or we have received a grant for it. We just recently received some retired SCBA and turnouts. We are hoping to raise enough money this summer and fall to be able to train with them IF wildfire season here doesn't kick off before then.
    Last edited by WVFD705; 07-01-2013 at 03:16 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by HuntPA View Post
    Sorry to be the bad guy in this thread, but reading the full article and doing some looking up, I have very little sympathy for the department in question (Longwood, not the original company as there is still too much unknown).

    The chief's biggest complaint appears to be with EMS provision. There are numerous fully paid EMS providers all across PA. They are all able to drive newer equipment, have battery operated stretchers, pay their employees, and all of the fuel costs based solely from billing (yes even Medicare). In the article he states they billed over a million dollars last year. He also lists what each municipality cost them in responses totaling just over $1 million. Is this the same amount that they billed last year? Seems to be pretty close to me. I know the local paid provider runs fewer calls and bills less, but is able to make profit.

    Then read on and also look up their website. They run a '12 Engine (judged best appearing and best equipped), '01 Engine, '99 Heavy, and an '05 ladder (judged best appearing and best equipped). They then say that the 2005 needs replaced. They list over 40 active members plus paid EMS staffing.

    They receive over $130,000 a year on average through Firemen's relief. That is steady, predictable income. They also offer ambulance subscriptions (which only offer a maximum 20% discount) and do a fund drive letter. They never mention chicken BBQ's, dinners, or any other labor intensive fundraising other than sending out letters.

    What I am saying is that under current funding, they have been able to update all of their equipment to newer than most of the rest of the state. Looking through the pictures, they are not buying the base models, but getting quite a few of the extras. If I were to live in the coverage area, I would have to ask how they arrived at their needed numbers, if the EMS side is self sustaining, and how many active member man hours are put into fundraising.

    Everything they have on their site shows that they are as professional as one could ask; requiring high levels of certification, responding to cover other areas when needed, and expanding to meet the needs of the community. I am not trying to say anything disparaging about the company's operations. Please do not interpret any of my post as to mean those things. My question to them is this:
    Can the citizens that you cover (including yourselves) afford the added tax load that you are asking for, and is it necessary for you to continue your operations? Not would it be nice to have more money, but is it worth the increased financial burden on your friends and neighbors.
    Can the people afford the added tax burden? May 1 mil or 1.5 mills? That's a good question..

    Since you sort of player devils advocate to the argument ill do the same for you..

    Can that same household afford going out to eat 2 or 5 times a week? Can that same family afford the cigarettes, beer, and whatever other vices they may have? Can that family afford the increase in insurance if the ISO eating changes? Can that family afford to replace the valuables lost if their home was on fire?

    Obviously not EVERY fire dept is in dire financial need.. Some are worse then others.. But would you sacrifice 150 or so dollars a year knowing you contributed and that if and when you needed them to respond they would show up in serviceable apparatus, with enough people, with enough training, in enough time with the best tools to do the job?

    Or do you just figure.. Ehh I can't afford it, they will figure it out.. Or I will never need fire/ems so no need to donate.. I'd rather spend 400 dollars and but my new born an iPad or a new Xbox..

    Priorities..
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    Quote Originally Posted by BigGriffC12 View Post
    Can the people afford the added tax burden? May 1 mil or 1.5 mills? That's a good question..

    Since you sort of player devils advocate to the argument ill do the same for you..

    Can that same household afford going out to eat 2 or 5 times a week? Can that same family afford the cigarettes, beer, and whatever other vices they may have? Can that family afford the increase in insurance if the ISO eating changes? Can that family afford to replace the valuables lost if their home was on fire?

    Obviously not EVERY fire dept is in dire financial need.. Some are worse then others.. But would you sacrifice 150 or so dollars a year knowing you contributed and that if and when you needed them to respond they would show up in serviceable apparatus, with enough people, with enough training, in enough time with the best tools to do the job?

    Or do you just figure.. Ehh I can't afford it, they will figure it out.. Or I will never need fire/ems so no need to donate.. I'd rather spend 400 dollars and but my new born an iPad or a new Xbox..

    Priorities..
    The problem is that the fire service has seemingly always "figured it out", usually at additional risk to us, rather than simply saying no.

    Sure, we can stretch another 5 years from that 20 year old engine rather than saying "we WILL be retiring that engine at 20 years. Sure, we can stretch another 5 years out of that SCBA, or those turnouts.

    Or we can go without that TIC, or that LDH, or that RIT pack.

    The community has gotten used to us making do and extending the life of equipment that should be replaced.

    Yes, there are communities that are struggling to afford the basics, and likely always will simply because the tax base doesn't, and likely never will, exist to support any other scenario.

    But there are an equal number of communities, where funding exists, where the fire department simply needs to step up and tell the community this IS what fire protection costs and this is what we NEED.
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    Quote Originally Posted by LaFireEducator View Post
    The problem is that the fire service has seemingly always "figured it out", usually at additional risk to us, rather than simply saying no.

    We agree, for a change. That was the crux of my original post here. We need to stop figuring it out and say "NO MORE! If the community wants fire protection pay for it or we close the doors." No compromises, no working with obsolete junk, no sunstandard anything.

    Sure, we can stretch another 5 years from that 20 year old engine rather than saying "we WILL be retiring that engine at 20 years. Sure, we can stretch another 5 years out of that SCBA, or those turnouts.

    Actually you CAN'T stretch that turn out gear or helmet past 10 years anymore without violating NFPA, and frankly in a busy FD 10 years is too long. We need to start using those standards to defend our needs for modern equipment.

    Or we can go without that TIC, or that LDH, or that RIT pack.

    Again, we need to not back down from what we need. Both to do the job and to protect ourselves.

    The community has gotten used to us making do and extending the life of equipment that should be replaced.

    That again is why I hate fundraising, we work doubly hard to fund things the community should be buying us to protect them. So many FDs suffer on with worn out, obsolete crap, that it is criminal.

    Yes, there are communities that are struggling to afford the basics, and likely always will simply because the tax base doesn't, and likely never will, exist to support any other scenario.

    I would go along with that if those communities made their other municipal services fundraise to support those services. Until they do it is all Bull Schitt and we are patsies dumb enough to care enough to put in that extra work to supply fire service to the ungrateful.

    But there are an equal number of communities, where funding exists, where the fire department simply needs to step up and tell the community this IS what fire protection costs and this is what we NEED.

    Absolutely.
    I hope for the day when we can stop fundraising and spend that time on more important things like training!
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    The thing that I hate about fundraising is that the same bunch of people do all of the giving. In our dept. we fundraise for the extras, not the basic stuff you need to do the job. We had a fundraiser for a trailer for our Polaris 6x6 and it worked out great. But we have noticed that the same people always give while the majority that don't give NEVER give. It bugs me that some reap all the benefits while donating none of the money. I figure a tax district would be much more fair.
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    As far as fundraising goes, we might have to start fundraising for work comp on the county side. The Governor said he would veto any legislation( including a bill for mandatory work comp funded by a permissive levy that was OVERWHELMINGLY supported by the tax payers) that would require work comp. I guess the good governor would prefer that we do a chili feed to come up with the cash.
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    Quote Originally Posted by BigGriffC12 View Post
    ....
    Obviously not EVERY fire dept is in dire financial need.. Some are worse then others.. But would you sacrifice 150 or so dollars a year knowing you contributed and that if and when you needed them to respond they would show up in serviceable apparatus, with enough people, with enough training, in enough time with the best tools to do the job?

    Or do you just figure.. Ehh I can't afford it, they will figure it out.. Or I will never need fire/ems so no need to donate.. I'd rather spend 400 dollars and but my new born an iPad or a new Xbox..

    Priorities..
    Depends. Am I paying that 150 for working fire trucks or parade pieces? If I'm paying 150 for parade pieces....no deal.
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    Having just returned from a weekend in PA, I can say that I saw some pretty nice fire apparatus owned by Fire Companies. In a couple of cases I looked up these VFC's to see what kind of run volume they did and I was surprised to see how few calls they do relative to how well off they "appear". I have no insight as to their particular financial funding or situations but I do find it interesting when I travel to see the relative expense of fire protection for the number of calls. FD's in my area that do similar numbers of calls do it with far less but then all are publicly funded. Be careful what you wish for.

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    Quote Originally Posted by conrad427 View Post
    As far as fundraising goes, we might have to start fundraising for work comp on the county side. The Governor said he would veto any legislation( including a bill for mandatory work comp funded by a permissive levy that was OVERWHELMINGLY supported by the tax payers) that would require work comp. I guess the good governor would prefer that we do a chili feed to come up with the cash.
    If workman's comp there is a high as it is here, good luck with that bas you are likely going to have to sell an awful lot of chili.

    My combo department pays almost 30K a year in workman's comp. I'm not sure what it is on my VFD.
    Last edited by LaFireEducator; 07-02-2013 at 08:49 AM.
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    When we combined a small fire district, a village department, the town fire protection district, and two fire departments into one town-wide fire district, one of the arguments was that the fire departments would no longer have to fund-raise. There is still some done, and the money generally goes into "bells and whistles" or to support non-firematic stuff like our banquet hall (which is also something of a community center).

    The two departments still function as standalone organizations, but we're usually out together for anything bigger than a car fire anyhow.

    The current tax rate pays all the bills and is purchasing (via reserve funds) three engines over the course of four years (one every two years), not to mention a recently acquired tower/quint.

    Our sister department's fireboat fund gets a lot of donations, chiefly from folks who the boat would serve, on the islands. The fire district figures that into the budget for the boat.

    I sometimes refer to fundraising as an "indirect tax." Property taxes are direct taxes - around here fire is usually a line item on your tax bill, not part of the general fund. Donations and the income from fundraisers are the indirect taxes. As noted, though, those "indirect taxes" are usually "paid" by a fairly limited number of folks. Curiously, oftimes they don't even live in the service area...
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    Quote Originally Posted by BigGriffC12 View Post
    Can the people afford the added tax burden? May 1 mil or 1.5 mills? That's a good question..

    Since you sort of player devils advocate to the argument ill do the same for you..

    Can that same household afford going out to eat 2 or 5 times a week? Can that same family afford the cigarettes, beer, and whatever other vices they may have? Can that family afford the increase in insurance if the ISO eating changes? Can that family afford to replace the valuables lost if their home was on fire?

    Obviously not EVERY fire dept is in dire financial need.. Some are worse then others.. But would you sacrifice 150 or so dollars a year knowing you contributed and that if and when you needed them to respond they would show up in serviceable apparatus, with enough people, with enough training, in enough time with the best tools to do the job?

    Or do you just figure.. Ehh I can't afford it, they will figure it out.. Or I will never need fire/ems so no need to donate.. I'd rather spend 400 dollars and but my new born an iPad or a new Xbox..

    Priorities..
    I completely understand what you are saying. And I agree. If you are driving two new cars, have a house twice the size you need and eating out more than cooking, than the added couple mills would not be a burden. That is where they would need to know their coverage area and what financial levy it can take.

    In my area, a tax increase would not work. We do not have people with a lot of extra, many without any extra. I do not live in a poverty stricken area, but one where people work hard and live within their means, without many extras.

    Where I could see an issue with Longwood in particular, is that they are covering multiple municipalities. This could result in some areas being in a condition that could bear a tax increase while other areas may not be able. If part are taxed and some are not, how fair is that?

    As for looking forward to the day when we no longer have to fundraise, I don't ever see that happening around here. People would rather give of their time and energy (yes even to fundraise), more than having a tax increase. This is due to ability to pay as well as people having a strong sense of community. They feel the desire to give back to the community and are able to do so either through donations to the fundraisers, or through volunteering. And we do have a 2 mill tax. When we report every year on what the tax money went to, we have to decide which bills were not covered by the tax as it doesn't even cover all of our utilities and maintenance bills.

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    This thread has been an interesting read. In my area of NY, fire Departments are either municipal or fire districts. Districts usually either came out of a combination of several small towns into a giant suburban mess via rapid growth, or occur in small, loose towns with a lot of unincorporated area- there simply is not enough of a municipality/ budget to support a fire dept.

    Others, like mine, are municipal. ALL operating expenses, Apparatus, capitol purchases, equipment, training etc is paid for by the Village, and by contracts with neighboring areas. We also have a fire dept inc. that fund raises. This money goes to fund incidentals, like food at all nighter calls, after drills, dept clothing, inc class A uniforms, our annual Awards banquet, a scholarship fund, the Chief's vehicle, and our half of the Squad truck. ( we own the body, the Village pays for the chassis) We also own a chunk of land by a village park with a pavilion, chowhouse, bathroom and morton building. This USED to be where we had our carnival when we still did it. Now we use it for training, and rent it out for parties and such.

    It works well for us. The village provides for our needs- we have 3 late model rigs- a '99 quint, '05 engine, and '13 rescue engine, which are well equipped to handle the challenges we face. Nothing is just for show- it all has to be justified. We also have a full time paid guy days during the week. It's a non civil service administrator/laborer position. This person handles much of the day to day business, as well as functioning as a driver, EMT etc. ( we cannot pay well enough, nor do we have enough action, to retain a career firefighter. Too many larger, busier and better paying depts in the county...)

    Ems is a separate entity.

    Bars are basically a thing of the past, too much liability and who the hell wants THAT reputation?

    We're also very lucky to be in a county with a strong training program, and a modern training facility. Not to be boastful, but we, nor our neighbors, aren't anywhere near being "cellar Savers", and the low opinion and snide remarks some have for vollys is offensive. That's NOT us.

    You don't have to travel too far, though, to find depts that are squeaking by on a wing and a prayer, money-wise. Many of those will likely never have the tax base to do anything else...

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    Quote Originally Posted by BigGriffC12 View Post
    The only reason we should be doing fundraisers are either to help build up a scholarship fund for junior firefighters..or to have a slush fund to help out members in need( death, illness, disaster), or to do something like Santa on the fire truck handing out toys....

    Not to buy air packs, or turnout gear or put gas in the trucks..

    It disgusted me when I first found out that my first dept had to pay for their fuel from the township..
    Bingo. The volunteer department I am with holds BBQ chicken fundraisers every year, but not for the purpose of supplementing the operational budget. The money goes to a discretionary fund that we use to give money to people in the community who come on hard times, have a sickness in the family, etc.

    The way some departments and governing bodies still operate in the country in this age is ridiculous.
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    Quote Originally Posted by GTRider245 View Post
    Bingo. The volunteer department I am with holds BBQ chicken fundraisers every year, but not for the purpose of supplementing the operational budget. The money goes to a discretionary fund that we use to give money to people in the community who come on hard times, have a sickness in the family, etc.

    The way some departments and governing bodies still operate in the country in this age is ridiculous.
    Indeed it is ridiculous. Fund the fire department adequately enough so they can provide a proper level of service or close it down. The fact that many struggle to pay for fuel, utilities, AND trucks and equipment is pathetic. When the cops, dpw, city government and all the other local services fund raise then talk to me about why we need to fund raise until then it is cheap skate politicians doing it to us and dedicated volunteers being patsies doing the fundraising.

    Did I mention I HATE HAVING TO FUNDRAISE!
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    Quote Originally Posted by FyredUp View Post
    Indeed it is ridiculous. Fund the fire department adequately enough so they can provide a proper level of service or close it down. The fact that many struggle to pay for fuel, utilities, AND trucks and equipment is pathetic. When the cops, dpw, city government and all the other local services fund raise then talk to me about why we need to fund raise until then it is cheap skate politicians doing it to us and dedicated volunteers being patsies doing the fundraising.

    Did I mention I HATE HAVING TO FUNDRAISE!
    There is no local police or paid city government. There is only the township road crew (and those 2 are not overpaid). They run used trucks, equipment, and actually do some fundraising through scrap hauling and some other means. Here it is not the cheapskate politicians, it is the nature of the rural landscape that we live in.

    The department in question (Longwood, not the original as I am still not fully sure of those details) does not seem to struggle to buy anything. The only fundraiser that they speak of is a fund drive letter that is sent out. I don't see that as too labor intensive of a funding campaign myself.

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    We have several NFP fire "companies" in our area that contract with the local municipality. The line item on the property tax bills is "fire protection district." The township could easily contract with an adjacent fire department or district, and that does happen.

    As with HuntPA, we have no local police - it's the county sheriff or the state police, and if they're extremely busy, it might be 20-30 minutes before we see a patrol. Some villages have part-time police departments, but we aren't a village, either.

    Highway is handled by the township, the county, or the state, with many county roads maintained by the township under contract with the county. Given our 100+/- miles of roads in the township, the 6-8 guys and their half dozen or so trucks aren't excessive.

    Most of the funding for town operations comes from the town's share of the county sales tax, and a portion of the county bed tax (on hotel rooms). In fact, many towns have a zero tax rate, outside of special districts. And for us fire is a special district, and a line item on the tax bill. It's pretty easy for the taxpayer to see what they're contributing to fire protection.

    That said, we've got a decent fire tax rate and usually have plenty of money to do what has to be done. Some careful planning has provided a substantial reserve fund for major apparatus purchases as well.

    But, as can be seen by the pay-for-spray debacles, some folks aren't willing to pony up for fire protection.

    Why do we do it for free? (Or at least with minimal recompense?) I'd offer pride and duty to the community as primary reasons.
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