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  1. #1
    ltvfdemt
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Default Problems with my career and my being a Volunteer firefighter

    I am a member of an all volunteer fire department that runs approximetely 900 fire/ems calls per year. I had been a volunteer firefighter for 5 years and I had recently graduated from college and accepted a posistion with a large corporation working in the Information Systems field. This was my dream job that I had worked for all through college. Well as we all know fire calls come at all hours of the day. I had been at my new job about five weeks and while leaving my home for work my pager activated for a structure fire. It was 7:30 in the morning and I new we would have a light turnout, so I grabed my cell phone and called my boss to let him know I was en-route to the station and I would be late for work. He knew about my firefighting career and right then and there he forced me to decide if I worked for him or if a was a volunteer firefighter. Of course since volunteer firefighting doesn't pay I had to think of my future and my family, but I just hated being put in that situation. Has anyone else experienced such a thing and how did you handle it?


  2. #2
    Nik
    Firehouse.com Guest

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    I know for many of our members, there are mixed responses among bosses. Some are very supportive and allow members to leave at a moment's notice. Some jobs have more difficult situations. For example, I'm a journalist and had a similar situation just recently.

    Tuesday is my deadline day and just as I was driving to work, I heard a call for a car accident. The fire department who covers the town with ours answered the call right away, but there was little response from our department (there's just not enough people in town during the day, sad but true). So, in this case, I didn't go. However, if it had been a structure fire, I probably would have gone. Would my editor been a bit miffed? Probably, but I told him this might happen when I joined the fire department.

    My problem is more not being in the area (my pager will only pick up so far away.. we have lots of mountains to get in the way) than not being "allowed" to go on calls.

    Perhaps there's a happy medium in your case. Of course you can't give up your day job, but that's no reason to quit being a vol. firefighter. There are always weekends and those evening calls. Our department has support firefighters as well as active members, the ones who can't make it all the time, but are required to make a certain number of trainings, rig checks, etc.

    It's too bad your boss doesn't realize the importance of volunteer firefighters.. he should be proud you're one!

    Hope this ramble helps a little.

    be safe,
    Nik

  3. #3
    firefighter60
    Firehouse.com Guest

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    ltvfdemt. I am sorry to hear about your problem. I am a firefighter in Pennsylvania. Here we are protected somewhat from what happened to you. Our employeers don't have to let us leave work but, if we answer a call before we are supposed to be at work and it goes past the time we are supposed to be there, there is not much that they can do. I was in that situation with the first fire department I belonged to. I answered a call about 2 hours before work and we ran over most of my shift. When I called to tell them what happened they told me I was fired. I said fine and made a couple of other calls. With in the week I was back at work and paid for the time lost. Unfortunetly not all states have that kind of protection in place for volunteer firefighters.

    Dave

  4. #4
    firefighter60
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Default

    ltvfdemt. I am sorry to hear about your problem. I am a firefighter in Pennsylvania. Here we are protected somewhat from what happened to you. Our employeers don't have to let us leave work but, if we answer a call before we are supposed to be at work and it goes past the time we are supposed to be there, there is not much that they can do. I was in that situation with the first fire department I belonged to. I answered a call about 2 hours before work and we ran over most of my shift. When I called to tell them what happened they told me I was fired. I said fine and made a couple of other calls. With in the week I was back at work and paid for the time lost. Unfortunetly not all states have that kind of protection in place for volunteer firefighters.

    Dave

  5. #5
    BVFD
    Firehouse.com Guest

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    Your not alone, friend. My employer has the same attitude as yours, and the worst part is, they are protected by the very dept. that I run with! And our dept. is totally volunteer. Fortunately, there is a law in the state congress right now that will do the same thing that Firefighter60 was talking about! Stay with it, and do the best that you can.

  6. #6
    Fireboy2020
    Firehouse.com Guest

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    The place that I work is a minimal wage job and I have been late numerous times for going to calls..My boss is not there most of the time that I am at work. The people that I am going to relieve live in areas that are protected by volunteers and they don't have a problem with covering for me. As for leaving work, that would not work. I have left once, but It was a call at a family members' home. I think that companies all across the US should have to, at least a reasonable amount of time, let fire dept members be late and leave work if they give the boss notice that they will be late..

  7. #7
    S. Cook
    Firehouse.com Guest

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    If your employer and your VFD are in the same municipality/area, imagine the bad PR for the employer if they fired you for something like this. "What company XYZ does not support the public safety of the community?"

    But, some bosses just don't get it until they are the ones that need the VFD's assistance. If that ever happens to your boss or someone he/she cares for, and no one shows up, you'll never be in that position again.

  8. #8
    Jim M.
    Firehouse.com Guest

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    What has worked well for us is being proactive. We send a letter to each employer when a new member completes FF1 training or EMT basic. It says "Joe has completed x hours of volunteer training, is a member of our dept and may sometimes be late or miss work beacuse of an emergency. Most employers support us - will you?" By getting their commitment up front, they aren't reacting to something out of the blue. On my last few jobs when I interviewed I told them right up front that I would miss about 2 days a year and be late 3 or 4 days a year. They blinked but said ok and that was that. Good luck and don't give it up! Even if you can only run after hours, it's worth the time and effort.
    - - - - - - - - - -
    Jim


  9. #9
    KNOBMAN
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Default

    LETS LOOK AT THIS IN A DIFFERENT POINT OF VIEW, YOU OWN A BUSINESS, YOU COUNT ON YOUR EMPLOYEES TO BE AT WORK ON TIME, YOUR EMPLOYEE DOES NOT SHOW UP BECAUSE HE IS FIGHTING A BARN FIRE OR SOMETHING, WHAT IS YOUR EMPLOYER TO DO? FIRE THIS WORKER WHO DOES NOT SHOW UP!!THINK ABOUT IF YOU OWNED THIS BUSINESS. SUPPOSE YOU WORK FOR A FIRE DEPT. AND YOU VOLLEY ON THE SIDE AND YOU DO NOT SHOW UP FOR WORK, YOU ARE GETTING WRITTEN UP OR POSS LOSE YOUR JOB! IS IT WORTH IT? MY MAN YOU NEED TO GET YOUR PRIORITIES STRAIGHT! THE VOL.FIRE DEPT. DOES NOT PAY YOUR BILLS NOR DOES IT PROVIDE FOOD AND SHELTER TO YOU AND YOUR FAMILY. THINK ABOUT IT.

    DWAYNE

    UNION AND PROUD OF IT!

  10. #10
    721
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Default

    There are all types of bosses, good ones, and bad ones. But in either case, any volunteer firefighter/rescue squad memeber needs to be up front BEFORE they miss work due to being on a call.

    I have delt with this for 21+ years as a volunteer, and the normal understand was that I could respond to calls when things at work would not be effected by my absence. If other employees had to take up my slack, or our customers were effected, I stayed at work.

    Everytime I got a new manager, I discussed this with them, and usually had the same agreement.

    I am now a 'virtual' employee, having changed positions within the company, and work from my home, which is only a quarter mile from the station. I still have times that I cannot respond, as I have pre-arranged conference calls, or deadline committments to customers, and sometimes other employees. If I can respond without effecting job comittments, then I do. I average responding to about 90% of daytime calls while in town.

    I have also found the better things are at work, i.e. business is good, the more willing the company is to work with employees in their volunteer efforts. The company I work for has even set up a volunteer web page on the company intranet and encourges employees to post information about their volunteer efforts.

    Our by-laws state that members are expected and required to all calls they are aware of, but not at the jepordy of their livelyhood.

    Develope a clear understanding with work regarding response, then honor it. One can have a rewarding work career, and a rewarding volunteer service career.

    Volunteer when you can,
    Work when you have to,

    Stay safe

  11. #11
    TRUCK 110
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Default

    So Knobman : What's your Point..?? Do I need to be a UNIONIZED FF to go to work late..??

    I belong to 2 Unions..and 1 is Fire..The Question is My Job and the Volunteer Fire Department....

    I am employed by the Largest 4 Wheel Drive Company in the World..I too go thru the Turmoil for my Fire Service, and it has been that way for the 25 yrs. I have belonged to the PROFESSIONAL Volunteer Fire Service. I too, am upfront with my Supervisors, and in some cases, my expertise in Fire Supression,Haz-Mat,Special Rescue, and EMS Fields have been beneficial to my Company, at No Cost to them. I think that in most cases that the Companies that you work for, do not realize what they have on their plate..Free Fire Protection, and in some cases EMS, and a Bonus for Advertising Hype, that "X company has X Volunteer Fire Fighters, who are employed there, serving their Community".

    I can not offer you any soothing thoughts, because by my UNION Contract(See That Knobman)..my Company pays me to be late for work..My Fellow Union Members,who are FF's, have been shown through our Company Chronicles as assets to our Corporations well being.

    John M. Scheibel
    Fire Captain- Union Member
    New Venture Gear Division
    Daimler/Chrysler Corporation
    Syracuse, New York

    Fire Instructor- Union Member
    New York State Department of State
    Office of Fire Prevention and Control

    Fire Lieutenant/FF 2 - NFPA Certified
    Clay Volunteer Fire Department
    Clay,New York


    ------------------


    [This message has been edited by TRUCK 110 (edited May 30, 1999).]

    [This message has been edited by TRUCK 110 (edited May 30, 1999).]

  12. #12
    jcearl82
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Default

    live with it broter the fire service is not for wimps

  13. #13
    mfgentili
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Default

    I agree with KNOBMAN. Being from a career fire department I as well as most of my co-workers have held side jobs of some type. The fire department would in no way tolerate tardiness or absenteeism because of some other profession. We chose the fire service as a career and that must come first. If you chose the Information System field then that must be your top priority. Most employers expect complete loyalty from their employees and rightly so. If being a volunteer firefighter will jeopardize your dream job then you must decide what is most important to you. This seems like a no brainer to me but I do not walk in your shoes so cannot and should not preach to you. I only submit this as my feeling on the subject. I personally have no problem with volunteer firefighters and don't consider myself superior in any way. For all I know you may know more about firefighting than I ever will. I wish you the best in your dilemma.

    mfg


  14. #14
    ltvfdemt
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Default

    My priority is to provide for my family and I can't do that on a career department. As a volunteer firefighter with my department I do the same job as you, but they don't have to pay me for it. Let's see who is dedicated. I do it for free, where they have to pay you. Let's see, I can work in my career, buy you three or four times over, and still respond to over 1000 calls per year. Volunteering for my department takes as much time as another full time job. Just ask my wife. So if you "career" firefighters want to debate me, try to do what I do and then come and talk. We'll see who comes out shining in the end. Remember this countries fire service was founded on volunteers.


  15. #15
    BURNSEMS
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Default

    Check your State legislation, Texas just recently passes a bill that will be effective September 1 that ALL State employers are to allow Vol F/F to respond to Fire Related calls, It is in the process of being re written to say ALL Employers, If your state does not have a similar rule contact your represenitive and find out what it would take to enact such a rule.Texas Law makers will have to vote on approval of the amended text but it expected to pass in the next session.

  16. #16
    Dalmation90
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Default

    Hey Lt...sometimes you just have to pull up your collar and wait for the heat to die down.

    Don't bother getting into a paid/vollie debate...it ain't gonna get settled here or anywhere else.

    But to the point of firing an IT worker who is late occasionally due to volunteering...well, it's bad business. I don't know what the IT market in your area is, but figure on 10% to 20% of a professional's first year salary as their hiring cost. Compared to missing a couple days, and being late half a dozen times a year, that isn't much money to the bussines.

    Most businesses would prefer a happy employee that stays to one p*ssed off because he can't help is community as much, less productive while he's there, and then leaves much sooner for greener pastures.

    I would wait till tempers cool down, and then discuss it with the boss. My guess, unless he's a total control freak, and there out there, is it's not going to be a problem. He probably just had a snap reaction to something he didn't anticipate.

    Matt

  17. #17
    Capt. Skippy
    Firehouse.com Guest

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    Some where along the line, most people in response, have mentioned priorities. They all are correct. For me personally, they are easily defined:

    1. My family - because I only have one and good ones are hard to come by!

    2. My community - I have 32 years invested in it and it in me!

    3. My job - I can ALWAYS find another one. Granted it may not pay as well, or be as well liked by me, but they exist and are plentyful. (FYI - I have had the current one for 5 years in the Environmental Consulting Business)

    As you may have guessed, I am a volunteer firefighter. I arrived at my priorities before I started down this path and therefore may be luckier than most. But one must make a decision as to where things rank in your life and proceed from there. Hummm, almost sounds like pre-planning!?

    Good luck to all in sometimes difficult situations.

    [This message has been edited by Capt. Skippy (edited June 01, 1999).]

  18. #18
    Vinny Del Giudice
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Default

    Just keep plugging! Don't give up.

  19. #19
    KNOBMAN
    Firehouse.com Guest

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    Hey fellas I have nothing
    against most volunteer
    firefighter or fire departments.
    BUT if you spend 8 hours working
    your 9 to 5 job then 3 hours at
    the fire hall, where is your
    time with your family? Plus you
    miss work because of that 4th
    due"TANKER" call how is that
    having prorities? I understand
    the VFD has a rich history but
    we are almost in the year 2000.
    Most VFD have paid folks because
    the "DEDICATED VOLUNTEERS" are
    not available. How can
    volunteers keep up with the
    required schooling that is
    needed in todays fire service.
    Firefighting is not a hobby! It
    is a serious business. Most
    command officers are elected
    through a popularity contest and
    not on their skills. Would you
    want a person leading you with a
    10th grade education.(this
    person did not go to school
    because the fire hall was his
    priority!) My post was not to
    knock VFD but it seems as though
    most of ya'll have a grudge
    against people who made the fire
    service a career. OUT

    P.S. I have a 4 yr degree in
    nursing.

    "GOD BESS MY FELLOW BROTHERS AND
    THE FAMILIES IN THE NATIONS
    CAPITOL."

  20. #20
    Dalmation90
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Default

    Troll Alert

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