This story was on the news last night..
I figure the elected officials got tired of them not training/paying bills.
This story was on the news last night..
I figure the elected officials got tired of them not training/paying bills.
Terrible solution... Esp. with the possible merger that was in the talks...
How does a town decertify a fire department? Are the volunteer fire departments there a part of the local government?
In Virginia, 1 or 2 volunteer fire departments are being disbanded each year by the county's local elected officials - something permissible by our Commonwealth's laws, even if they're incorporated.
The local community leaders are obligated to provide fire/ems for the people so they contract if you will with these companies.
The local govt usually doesn't have control over the companies money/equipment/training/SOP or SOGs, recruitment, promotion.
The town usually pays insurance and workmans comp but that's about it...
So basically they just said.. Thanks guys were gonna go with the other team.
Griff is correct.
In the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, 98% of VFD's are entities incorporated unto themselves and are usually not attached to the Municipality in which they serve in any manner. This is why you see many many "Anytown Fire Company" rather than "Anytown Fire Department." Think of them as any other trade that sets up shop in town- "Anytown Plumbing Company" or "Anytown Auto Repair." This is a HUGE reason why you still see many bars in Pa. firehouses- the Municipality cannot control whether they have one or not.
Municipalities in Pa. are legally obligated to provide emergency services and fire protection to their residents. How they do this is entirely up to them. They may choose to use a Volunteer Organization that has been around since 1900, or a combination of organizations- many times Fire and Ambulances squads are separated from each other. Municipalities and VFD's sign contracts with one another to provide fire protection services, and the Municipality has to provide "X" amount of dollars for the operating budget as well as workmans compensation coverage. As far as the municipalities having some control over the VFD's this can and does exist in many places. Laws are set in place that allow the Municipality to audit the finances of the VFD's- after all, they are receiving tax dollars, it's only fair. But because Pa. is a Commonwealth, you have so many small towns, boroughs, townships, etc. that all control themselves. You may have heard Ed Woods come in here stomping his feet about Pa and this very matter. It's one that I agree with him on- IMO emergency services are better provided by a county-run organization with uniformity. But again because these small towns exist, and because the Fire Chief and/or the President of the Fire Company may also be the Mayor or on the Town Board of Supervisors or Borough Council, the VFD's are given free passes to commit whatever mischief they deem necessary "carte blanche." In my own small borough, three members of the Borough Council are also active members of the Fire Company (one of which is the President of the Fire Company. Conflict of interest? Heck no, just ask them, they will tell you!!!!! Let's not even discuss the $686,000 Pierce Pumper that they just bought without going to the bidding process, but thats a seven chapter book of a post for another time.....)
However, you also have other places (usually larger Townships) where the Boards are a bit smarter and with less involvement with the VFD's. They have more control as obviously the unsupervised shenanigans dont occur because they regularly audit the books, own major pieces of apparatus and/or the properties and buildings housing the VFD's. They may also be the provider of the fire services- take the Fire Department of Montgomery Township, in Montgomery County Pa (Company 18.) This is a Fire Department which is organized and operated by Montgomery Township. It is a small combination department of two stations, three engines, a truck and a rescue company. There is a Career Fire Marshal/Fire Commissioner, and four or five career guys during the daytime with volunteers running the show at night (with a volunteer chief and officers.) The Township owns most of the rigs and the two buildings that they operate out of. They pay the career staff and control them administratively through the Fire Commissioner (or whatever his title is this week....) The Volunteers are separate and are controlled administratively by the Volunteer Chief under the Fire Commissioner. Everyone gets along very well for the most part, its an excellent organization overall.
They were formed because the old Volly Company (who still exists but I wont mention their name) did not get along with the Township. They were dinosaurs set in their ways. When the Township was less populated, they were able to get away with their shenanigans. However as it is located along a major corridor (Route 309) in Suburban Philadelphia- the Township went through an explosive population growth in the 80's and 90's and became a typical suburban bedroom community outside of Philly. Many many urban professionals and their families escaping from Philly, who were used to professional City-Run services, set up shop. And when the VFD was playing with their money and not performing to expectations, the citizens demanded blood, and got it. The Township demanded to audit the books and records, the VFD told them to go pound sand, and as a result- the VFD was "fired" as the sole provider of Fire Protection. (its a little more involved then that obviously....) The Township kicked them out of the township-owned building, took back two of their five vehicles, and formed their own Department. The VFD that once ran well over 1500 calls per year is now lucky if they break 250 due to the loss of the huge part of their coverage are which was Montgomery Township. They now run second and third in on many of the boxes into Mont Twp however to this day I understand its a tough pill to swallow for many of the older guys of the company.
The way that the laws are written and because so many of the VFD's have been around for a very very long time causes them to be very set in their ways. County run fire departments simply do not exist here and quite frankly because of the stubborness and mindset of the Dinosaurs in control, combined with the small-town mentality in many places; I highly doubt I will ever see a county-wide VFD in Pa. in my lifetime.
Some Counties do have "Districts" set up, such as Montgomery County. Some District Associations do have suggested operating procedures established in the interest of uniformity, however again many of the dinosaurs do not want uniformity in the interest of efficiency; they want autonomy in the interest of preserving their standing in the community.
Sorry to ramble on, I just wanted everyone to have a basic grasp of the "VOLLYTICS" of Pennsylvania. Ben Franklin is probably rolling over in his grave. I think that someone should have said to him "Volunteer WHAT?" and then kicked him in the balls.
ALSO: I forgot to mention in my novel I posted a few minutes ago: Because municipalities are required to provide workman's compensation coverage (by law may I add....) many of them (mostly the bigger townships, not so much the smaller ones, and the ones who have smartened up) have adopted agreements with the VFD's that they must perform, conform, or adopt certain standards, whether it be all or parts of NFPA for administrative, training and response purposes.
Some more interesting Pennsylvania "Vollytics." Just published today.
Asking people who work 1 or 2 jobs plus have family to take care of to constantly sell tickets, to give up time to prep a fundraiser, work a fundraiser, and THEN go on calls.. On top of training refreshers every year or so for haz-mat, con-eds for emt and medic.. Puts a strain on a person and on the family and burns people out..quick. A good way to lose members and a hard way to paint a picture to recruit new members.
EVERY municipality should institute a fire tax.. But with that being said, there needs to be expectations..
You don't need the shiny chrome rims or the stereo system or the super Dooper LED lighting system..
I.E. spec the lowest bidder if possible.
Mandated training: every firefighter that rides the truck has at the minimum a high school diploma, GED, FF II, haz mat ops, first responder or EMT, and some type of vehicle rescue training.
D/O for the drivers..
Specialized training for "rescue" or "Squad" units..
Fire officer I or higher for ALL officers..
Random drug testing, and medical exams.
Now you're like.. "Wow, that's alot of work" offer LOSAP.. Statewide.. Tax breaks, pay per call, pay for training and costs involved.. Workmans comp and insurance..
Maybe if we as a whole took ourselves more serious and actually had someone to answer to maybe those people who say "vollys aren't real firefighters" will take us seriously..
I hate having to defend myself, and what I do because of the image some of us paint..
There are two sides to every coin. Since fire protection is offered at the local level, the local government (city, township, county, etc.) needs to work with a volunteer fire department/company to provide it.
Of course, since humans are involved, there can be jealously, envy, power/control issues, etc.. In some communities, the local government and the local volunteers work like a well oiled machine. In others, it is constant strife.
What both sides need to remember, is that fire protection is an essential public service and needs to be provided to the general public. Attitudes, power/control issues, etc., need to be put aside to work for the common good.
In a previous volunteer dept., I was a member of, we had a mayor that wanted total control over the volunteer fire dept.. The volunteers raised alot of money with fundraisers, grants, donations, etc.. Some members of the city council knew this was a powder keg. The mayor wanted control of all the money. The volunteers said "fine", we will turn everything over to the city and you can pay our bills. We will not be doing fundraisers either. The city was giving $3,500 to the volunteers. Of the $30,000 needed to run the dept., the other other $26,500 was raised pretty much by the volunteers. Some of the city council realized this and wanted the mayor to back off. The volunteers had just done fundraising for a new six figure pumper/tanker and paid for it in full. A city council member wanted that truck for the city. It had been titled to "Anytown Volunteer Fire Department". So the volunteers owned it.
The end result, was that the fire dept. books are looked at by the city. Fine. As for as taking control of the fire trucks, the volunteers incorporated a volunteer fire department and all newly acquired fire apparatus are titled to that non-profit organization. The volunteers figured that since they had to do all the fundraising to buy fire apparatus, they would take ownership of the apparatus.
So far this has worked out. The volunteers work at fundraisers and feel "ownership" in the fire apparatus they raise money for, for the community.
Is this the most perfect setup? Probably not. Issues will come up in the future, but it is a current arrangement.
It is true that unfortunately many areas don't fund at all, or adequately fund, their local fire departments. Fortunately, for most of those areas the volunteers still step up and operate their fire departments on Bingo, food stands, softball tournaments, garage sales, rental halls with bars, and so many more creative fund raising ideas.
I absolutely F***ING HATE fundraisers and see no logical reason, other than we do it because we are the kind of people we are, for the fire service having to fund raise. The cops don't, the DPW doesn't, the local governing board doesn't...SO WHY DO WE? If the community wants fire protection then they should pay for it and that is that. As long as we play the patsy and fund raise they will never meet the true needs of the fire department.
Alcohol in the firehouse is pretty much a thing of the past up here in the vast majority of firehouses. It has been that way for years. The rental hall/bar/dance hall attached to the fire station is a rarity up here. So the few places you do see alcohol, beer, is in fridges or pop mahines in the fire station for after a call or training. This is one "tradition" I wish would die off and be gone.
Our association uses the funds we raise to do things like furnish the day room, provide fire dept. shirts and jackets, and common use items like folding chairs and tables. We also fund other chairitable things like the fireworks, needy families, fire prevention education, and other local needs. (We as firefighters kind of function like a local United Way) We are quite visible in the community on both sides of the coin, so our citizens get a good deal from both their tax money and their donations. The taxes have enabled us to transition from a somewhat average rural volunteer FD, to a POC dept that runs automatic with 3 other full time FD's. The donations allow us to provide additional services to the community and the firefighters.
I believe any community that wants an adequate FD, that is well trained and answers to the community, should be funding a major part of that dept's operations with fair taxes.
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..
I feel like beggers.. Standing in the cold for pocket change..
Not to mention.. It seems like every week another volly dept is being investigated for people stealing money..
Why would I donate my hard earned money to a bunch of untrained, uneducated, slobs? Who will probably steal it anyway?