Are we all firefighters or not?
I have been listening to and watching a growing debate, and today I read an old article about a differing category of certifications for volunteers, specifically rural volunteers.
My stance is a firefighter is a firefighter is a firefighter and if you want to be certified then there should be one set of certification standards for Firefighter I, Firefighter II, Driver Operator, Officer, Instructor, Inspector and Investigator.
In Wisconsin there is no requirement to .be certified, whether volunteer or career. In fact there are 2 tracks for training in Wisconsin, an Entry Level track and a Certification track. The Entry Level track begins with Entry Level Firefighter 1 and 2 a total of 60 hours. This is the minimum required firefighter training required in Wisconsin for someone to act as a firefighter. If you continue in this track there is Entry Level Fire Apparatus Driver Operator which is 30 hours and Entry Level Officer which is also 30 hours. The Certification track begins with the 60 hours of Entry Level Firefighter with an additional 36 hours added to take you to Firefighter 1, Firefighter 2 is an additional 42 hours, then you can add Fire Apparatus Driver Operator, Fire Officer 1 and 2, Instructor, and Inspector.
The Entry Level track was specifically created for the volunteer fire service to require a state minimum training level that was acceptable to a large number of volunteer agencies. Again this is a MINIMUM state training requirement, it does not in anyway replace certfication and in fact many of the volunteer fire departments I am familiar with are requiring varying levels of certification as their minimum standard and some are requiring certification for promotion.
Okay, my comments here are purely opinion and I am fully aware that they will be controversial. I have heard the comments for years that volunteers are as good as career firefighters, that we are all equal, that fire doesn't know the pay grade of the firefighters battling it. Well, if that is all true then why is there a need for a seperate track of training and/or certification for volunteers?
Let's be clear here, I am currently a member of 2 volunteer fire departments, and I have been a volunter for 37 years, so this is NOT an anti-volunteer post. I am also a 22 year career firefighter. I am only trying to understand how we can all be equal if one group expects a seperate and clearly unequal level of certification.