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Thread: paid vs. volly

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    Default paid vs. volly

    Okay, whats dictates paying firefighters or not. Is it matter of necessity to pay some dept. or is it the town or city's privilege to be able to have paid professionals? Where I come from... There are seemingly no difference from one town to another but some are paid and some are not. The Paid and Volly departments could have high or low populations/ population densities. Some could have high rises and others do not. Some have a high structure fire rate/risk and some do not. Seems to me that it all depends on if tax payers wanna pay for it or not.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rob84 View Post
    or is it the town or city's privilege to be able to have paid professionals?
    It's my town's privilege to have professional volunteers.


    (Hint: Please learn to use the words "paid", "professional" and "career" all in the proper context. One not be required to receive a paycheck to be a professional firefighter, however one IS required to receive a paycheck to be a career firefighter.)
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rob84 View Post
    Okay, whats dictates paying firefighters or not. Is it matter of necessity to pay some dept. or is it the town or city's privilege to be able to have paid professionals? Where I come from... There are seemingly no difference from one town to another but some are paid and some are not. The Paid and Volly departments could have high or low populations/ population densities. Some could have high rises and others do not. Some have a high structure fire rate/risk and some do not. Seems to me that it all depends on if tax payers wanna pay for it or not.
    Generally, a community has a paid career professional fire department when the work load overwhelms the Volunteer or Paid On Call staffing. Some places start with a core of paid personnel, 1, 2, or more, running shifts and the volunteers augment them. Other places entirely replace the volunteers with paid staff. Either way it is entirely a local government decision.

    By the way, to me professional defines a behavior, not a pay status. I know plenty of Volunteer/Paid On Call firefighters that I would define as professional.
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    Default Semantics

    I'd like to hope we all act "Professional" when we do our job. With tha said I think Fyreup has hit the nail on the head. There are Paid, Volunteer and Paid on call Volunteers. The same old story is if your paid your not a Volunteer. Hogwash.......Each has their own qualities and each has a part in the Fire Service. The feud between Paid and Volunteer holds no water with me...they each work hard and they have a part.
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    The technical definition of the word professional is irrelevant to the topic of my original statement... Just looking for reasons on what justifies giving an individual a high salary and benefits vs. a town with the same demographics not to do so?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rob84 View Post
    Just looking for reasons on what justifies giving an individual a high salary and benefits vs. a town with the same demographics not to do so?
    It can be any number of things.

    A department might have career firefighters because of:
    • politics
    • low morale & response statistics amongst the volunteers
    • the taxpayers willingness to pay for career firefighters
    • possible improvements in ISO ratings

    Why might a department still rely on volunteers?
    • Politics
    • Good response times & good morale
    • Willingness to work with local elected officials
    • Not enough money for career department
    • Citizens won't fund career members

    Those are just some of the broadest ideas that come to mind. Naturally, there are going to be reasons and influences locally that any of us may not be familiar with.
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    BA187 pretty well covered my thoughts. I'm not sure about that "high salary" thing, though, considering one town in the news just laid off their $10/hour firefighters...

    I would opine that, barring other circumstances, communities will reach a tipping point where it no longer makes sense to depend on a strictly volunteer (or paid-on-call) firefighting source. Given the resources, they may change gradually, beginning with, say, a paid chief, then a core paid staff (one engine) supplemented by volunteers/POC, and eventually to a fully paid force.

    Run numbers may be a factor as well - costs notwithstanding, a community may reach a point where even a dedicated volunteer/POC force may not be able to handle the load. I would tend to think, however, that a community generating that many runs can probably afford a full-time department.

    On thing holding the process up in some suburban areas is that the individual fire departments/districts can't afford to hire full time staff, but with decreased volunteer responses they need to, due to mutual aid agreements necessary to assure adequate staffing, particularly during the day.

    Some areas get smart and decide to band two or more districts together when that point is reached, providing the necessary resources to hire firefighters. Oftimes those districts are fairly small, anyhow. I know of one locale, still served by all volunteer departments, where reasonable response time circles for three of the departments actually overlap the station for a fourth. Cutting those four departments to one or two stations may well allow paying full-time staff, and might even save a little money for the taxpayers.
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    Another factor can be the inclusion of EMS.

    I know of one town in Vermont that closed down it's volunteer rescue squad, added that role to it's volunteer fire department and then hired a paid Chief and 3 personnel per shift, primarily for the EMS transport side of the house. they are now a combination department.

    They also may have a community that requires specialized services with significant training requirements such as specialized industrial hazards or specialized technical rescue such as surf, swiftwater, ice, cave, etc etc. where the training requirements would be difficult for most volunteers to meet.
    Last edited by LaFireEducator; 07-18-2013 at 12:36 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rob84 View Post
    The technical definition of the word professional is irrelevant to the topic of my original statement... Just looking for reasons on what justifies giving an individual a high salary and benefits vs. a town with the same demographics not to do so?
    The technical definition is what has caused years and years of bickering in our beloved fire service. As a career and volunteer firefighter I have always found it distasteful and a little offensive to say career firefighters are higher on the professional scale than volunteers. I work with a few career guys who are dumber than the boots they wear, and volunteer with some others who are amazing "professional" firefighters. Now to answer the question, by me it is generally the region of the state, the northern corridor does not have the willing population to volunteer and therefor, we all have paid jobs. My volunteer dept actually serves a larger geographical area and population than my career department. But my career department protects a more economically challenged demographic, so we are a lot busier when it comes to fire responses.
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