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  1. #1
    Scott Clark
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Default Combination Fire Departments, Friend or Foe

    If you are a Career Firefighter or Volunteer Firefighter in a combination fire department and have positive or negative things to say about this joined service, let's hear what you've got to say. I personally work and have volunteered for several combination fire departments and I find there is a great animosity between paid and volunteer presonnel. I also have found that some administrators don't quite know how to handle it, so they just plan ignore it. So if you have ideas or things that work or you have tried and failed with different programs tell me about them. I am doing research in this area so your thoughts and ideas will be greatly appreciated.


  2. #2
    Administrator
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Posts
    2,480

    Default

    We welcome everyone to reply to this posting, but please refrain from any serious attacks against volunteers or career firefighters. That has been a problem in other forums and we dont want to see those kinds of attacks here on Firehouse.Com. Please keep your discussion thriving in a positive, open way

    Thanks again for everyone's cooperation.

    Firehouse WebTeam

  3. #3
    Rob
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Default

    One thing to keep in mind is that everybody is doing the same job -- saving lives. People who can't look past that might not belong on the job?
    Rob

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  4. #4
    Karl Hopkins
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Default

    I am with a department that just went to a combination department about 4 months ago. I will tell you with a paid staffing of 5 people pre shift the volunteers are needed badly. I know that with out the vol. we could not do the 2in/2out rule. There is no difference between a vol. and paid at are dept.. We are all professionals! The vol. get the same training same equ. and the same respect. So their you have it my thoughts on combination departments.
    Karl

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    One Team One Fight!

  5. #5
    E14
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Default

    I belong to as paid student dept. we're the same and a career dept. Except for the turnover rate (people graduate every few years). We went to a comb. dept. 2 years back. Some of the paid F.F. didn't like it at all for reasons like; thats more people to train, now we get to meet are replacements. How ever after the first gruop of auxillaries (thats what we call them) went through their jumpseat qaulifications. The opposition went quietly away for the most part. They are now considered valued Firefighters and friends.

  6. #6
    bjrdn
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Default

    I am a career FF/EMT member of a combination department. I started out on the call side and eventually got chosen (after resume, written test and interviews) for a full-time position. We have 9 full-time paid members, including the Chief, and 15 call members.
    We only have 2 full-timers on duty on a shift. So as Karl Hopkins put it the call members are definitely needed to supplement our manpower situation. And yes, they get the same training as us full-timers. Some are
    EMT's which allows them to work shifts if a full-timer is out sick or on vacation.

  7. #7
    Hugh Saunier
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Default

    I find that on our combination Dept. we use our reserve force on a regular basis. We are very carful though not to put that resource in a situation which they may not have been trained for and, a task which falls outside their area of responsibility. Our reserves are comfortable with this situation and our full-time staff are always thankful for the help.

    Hugh

  8. #8
    LT trk106
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Default

    I too am on a paid - Combo dept.I came up from our reserve program to full time, and thats the way we like it now. You get a trained F. F. who knows your crews and the s.o.p.s right away. Our dept. is small(12) full time and 9 reserves, and our city fathers would like nothing better than to do away with the full-time dept. This has not caused any problems between full-time and reserves . The enemy is our city Gov. that has us fight fires with 4 & 3 man shifts. When your on the nozzle , your on the nozzle, paid or not.

  9. #9
    Scott Clark
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Default

    Thanks for the information so far. I need to know from all of you and anyone else that signs on, is your combination fire department run by a paid or volunteer chief? Also can you explain a little more about how your "reserves" become paid? Are they hired from testing with in your departments or are they civil service? And Karl your right, one team - one fight!

  10. #10
    Captain Hickman
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Default

    I too am on a combination deparment. With an interesting twist, all the full time personnel are members of the IAFF,Local 2001.
    For years the IAFF were against the "volunteer". But,in our case, like others, our volunteers play an important role within the department. The only difference is that the IAFF can assist our fulltime personnel in protecting our jobs from an ever changing elected group of individuals, which govern our city. Like a lot of you our fulltime personnel came through the rank and file. If it were not for the volunteers there would be no fire service.

    [This message has been edited by Captain Hickman (edited 02-08-99).]

  11. #11
    LT trk106
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Default

    Scott, here's a little more info on our dept. We had a cheif till about two yrs. ago . the city decided they could save money by having a public saftey director. Its not working out to well at this point, but thats another story. Our reserves take a standerd civil service test, and then an oral interveiw to become full-time. That may change in the near future, as the P.S.D. has some ideas of his own. By the way we are also a I.A.F.F. local, 1670.

  12. #12
    Tom Lafleur
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Default

    My dept. has 4 carrer FF and 30 call FF.We have a few problems,but it's usually personality problems.We all train together and when the bell sounds we are one hell of a team.The carrer guys came up from the call ranks so that helps.We also have a full time paid chief.

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    Tom Lafleur


  13. #13
    Karl Hopkins
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Default

    We have a Chief and a Deputy Chief. Both of which are paid. We also have two Inspectors that are paid. Along with 3 Crew Chiefs, and 4 FF per shift. On call we have 12 Vol. which are on 24hrs. recall. Do to the fact that we are on a government istall all applicants must sumit resume, and qualification. Some preference is given to the Vol. we have on board.

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    One Team One Fight!

  14. #14
    Karl Hopkins
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Default

    We have a Chief and a Deputy Chief. Both of which are paid. We also have two Inspectors that are paid. Along with 3 Crew Chiefs, and 4 FF per shift. On call we have 12 Vol. which are on 24hrs. recall. Do to the fact that we are on a government istall all applicants must sumit resume, and qualification. Some preference is given to the Vol. we have on board.

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    One Team One Fight!

  15. #15
    Paul33
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Default

    I am a vol from Melbourne Australia,we dont have any perm staff at our station but are supported by brigades around us who have perm and vols at the same station.Up until about 3 years ago our situation was very bad,perm staff just hated us ,would not let their vols on the truck with them ,would not train with them just ignored them.The frustrating thing about this is that in our service 95% of the staff where once vols as well,yet as soon as they become perms they treat us like this.The situation is not so bad now some stations still have problems,we get to jobs and some staff treat us like dirt but 80%of perms get on well with the vols.I have actually heard of cases where at a mixed station,perm staff got out of the truck when vols got on .Unfourtunatley,still at most stations vols are not allowed on the first responding truck which is Dangerous,as they usually only roll with 2 or 3 staff on a truck.We are there to support them and they are there to support us,the biggest problem here is the union.They hate vols with a passion,the name of the union here is The united fire fighters union,how they can have the word united in their name is a mystery,for a vol to join their union we have to pay full union fees but are not allowed any voting rights,damm stupid if you ask me as in our service there are 300 staff,and most of them are in the union and there is 70000 vols and about 30 are in the union.United ,what a joke

  16. #16
    dc45b
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Default

    Hello Scott, I am a member of the Marlboro VFD in Prince George's County, MD. 20 years ago, all the stations were volunteer. But some stations paid people to help staff the stations. Then the county passed a law putting all the paid people under that county government. After that there was a Appointed Chief for the entire county.

    Let's face it both sides need each other to protect the community. The volunteers own the firehouses and 90% of the equipment. Today, some stations have gone to all career staffing. That's do. But in my station I ask that the career staffing help me has the one in charge of the station(vol.) to help with training of people that may need it, Maintain the equipment etc. The career people have no budget for purchasing to speck. Everything they get comes from the VOl. Budget.
    Yes there is times when tempers flair as in any other group. Talk it out and remember that we are here to protect they community.

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  17. #17
    Member
    Join Date
    Feb 1999
    Location
    Roswell, GA, USA
    Posts
    58

    Default

    I used to belong to a combo department just outside of Houston. Paid crew covered 6a-6p Mon-Fri. There were 5: 2 for engine, 2 for ambo, 1 for dispatch (we did our own).

    Chief was a volunteer appointed by board of directors. Only he and Asst. Chief "kept" their rank during day. I was station 2 Lt. but became FF during week. When a call hit, pagers went off to let vollies in district know they might be needed. Stills and EMS handled by paid crew. 2nd EMS calls handled by engine crew, but vollies called to come to station to man engine. Structures handled by who could show up. Mutual aid with Houston FD not unlikely. More mutual aid with neighboring dept. as well.

  18. #18
    BRAD
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Default

    SCOTT I AM A VOL WITH NORTH STAR, A COMBO DEPT , NEAR NORTH POLE ALASKA. WE HAVE A PAID CHIEF, DEPUTY,TRAINING OFFICER, 2 DATA ENTRY/INFORMATION SPECIALIST'S, AND A MECHANIC WORK 8 HRS. ALONG WITH 3 SHIFT PERSONNEL WHO WORK 24/48. THE REST ARE VOLUNTEERS, WE HAVE A, B, C, BATTALIONS. SOME ARE LIVE INS AT ONE OF 5 STATIONS. SOME OF US ARE PROFESSIONAL FF'S WITH OTHER DEPT'S WHO CANT GET ENOUGH, SOME ARE MILITARY STATIONED HERE OR STUDENTS AND OTHERS ARE 9-5 WORKERS. WE COVER 86 SQ. MI AREA WITH A 1000 RUN AVERAGE A YEAR. WE HAVE A GREAT TEAM UP HERE AND HAVE WEEKLY TRAINING AND USUALLY WEATHER PERMITTING (NOT 60 BELOW) THE BATTALIONS GET TOGETHER ON WEEKENDS TO TRAIN. NORTH POLE FIRE DEPT. IS ALSO A COMBO/PAID DEPT. THE RUN THE AMBULANCE AND AVERAGE 2 PAID PERSONNEL A SHIFT (3 SHIFTS)AND A PAID CHIEF. NORTH STAR HAS A WEB PAGE FOR THOSE INTERESTED ALONG WITH ONE FOR NORTH POLE, HERE THEY ARE! ENJOY

    www.alaska.net/~nsfsa/
    www.ptialaska.net/~chiefjen/index.htm

    [This message has been edited by BRAD (edited 02-13-99).]

    [This message has been edited by BRAD (edited 02-13-99).]

  19. #19
    Bryant
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Default

    I'm in a combination department in Langley British Columbia Canada. We have a department that comprises 168 paid-on-call members and 18 career positions. We have seven firehalls, 30 Apparatus and cover 150 sq. miles. ALL of our response personnel are paid-on-call, they carry pagers and are paid only when they respond. The career positions are the Fire CHief, two Assistant chiefs, two public educators, two fire inspectors, a Chief training Officer, and me, the Fire Training Officer. The big difference between us and most of the replies I've read here is that all of us career people are also paid-on-call. When we are at work during the day we respond to our various halls when emergency calls come in and at night, when calls come in we revert to the role of POC firefighters. Some of us carry dual ranks and some of us are the same rank. One is a POC Captain (2IC) and a career Firefighter I'm a Casptain on both sides, career and POC. All of our career staff has been hired from the POC ranks. There is no conflict between career and POC whatever.

    One thing I've noticed reading the replies to this posting is the common thread of teamwork. It does my poor 'ol heart good to see this, glad to know I'm not the only one who feels that way.

    I really admire having this forum to share ideas and views. Keep it up!

    Bryant

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    "Go big or go home"

  20. #20
    Scott Clark
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Default

    Thanks for the earlier replys and all the emails I have gotten! Let me ask another couple questions and I would like to hear from both career and volunteers what you think. How do feel about live-in bunk programs for volunteers at combination houses? Also what do you see as advantages or disadvantages? Thank you in advance.

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