Thread: Between a rock and a hard place
08-13-2001, 11:53 AM #1
Between a rock and a hard place
After reading about the LODD in SC and the fines levied against the fire dept. I began thinking about the position a lot of volunteer depts are in and wondered if any of you out there in forum land have found solutions to these dilemmas and could share them with others. The problems I speak of are those of manpower and money shortages that conflict with national standards. The easiest example I can give is the small rural fire department that even if they did receive funding from taxes, their tax base isn't large enough to support them I the manner that many of us would consider the bare essentials. I recently heard of a dept. that was so strapped for cash that they were using 1960's era trucks and could not afford turn-out gear! I personally know of a department that was very proud of the new pickup truck they had bought for brush fires and were now raising money for the skid pump to go in it. It also seems that these same depts are the same ones with manpower problems. It may be just a matter of low population density. Getting back to the situation in SC, the incident scene did not sound all that unfamiliar to me. I know of neighboring depts to my own that might only get 5 to 6 firefighters to the scene of a working structure fire. It is not laziness or lack of dedication, they don't have the membership available during the day time hours. I know of some depts that may have less than 20 members on their entire roster! With this kind of lack of resources, how does a fire dept stand a chance to comply with standards such as 2-in-2-out and NFPA 1720 not to mention OSHA and NIOSH safety regs. I am not blaming NFPA, OSHA, the Feds, or even local or state governments. I'm not complaining about a lack of leadership in individual depts. I am really only worried that depts in such dire straits are going to become targets for legal liability and will be forced to close their doors and give up the ghost when a tragedy like a LODD hit them when they are just trying to do the best they can do with what little they have. I do, however, think that government programs at any level will not solve this problem since such programs are, by their nature, in the realm of politics and it takes political clout to gain from these programs and the depts have less of that than anything else. I'm sorry this got so long-winded but I wanted to be sure my points got across and that this didn't turn into a political shouting match or them vs. us competition. I think I will post this other forums so as to try to get some different view points. Stay Safe.Kevin Sink
Fair Grove Fire Dept.
Thomasville, NC USA
08-15-2001, 08:47 PM #2
- Join Date
- Jan 1999
- Canton, CT, USA
This is not an unfamilliar problem. In fact the decline in volunteerism and the change in workforce have crippled volunteer fire services across the country. As far as what to do about it. . . Your guess is as good as mine. Still if the Gov't. is pressing its point then you really are Damned if ya do Damnd if ya dont.Alex Capezza BS,CFEI,CFII FO1, EMT-I
08-17-2001, 11:27 AM #3
- Join Date
- Feb 2001
- Conshohocken, PA
The problem with daytime weekday manning is not just a rural problem. There are many issues that conflict with providing sufficient daytime manning that have nothing to do with the type of community that a FD protects. It has to do with social, economic and demographic issues of todays society.
There are many good papers written on this subject. One of the best was written in the early 80's by a man from St. Joseph's University for a Conference of Municipal Leaders. The mans name is Dr. Vince McNally. You can reach him at 610.660.1641.
Resolution requires a commitment from the top on down including the elected officials in the municipalities that your Fire Department serves as well as the officers and members of the Fire Department as well.
One of the major problems that you may have to overcome is the fact that many departments aren't willing to recognize that there is a problem in the first place. We aren't willing to accept members that do not fit our impression of what we believe are acceptable. We carry on with traditions that have nothing to do about the job that we are supposed to be doing and the people that we are supposed to be helping. Many times we are our own worst enemy. If you don't believe me then check out the forum in www.phillyfirenews.com and the discussion regarding firehouse sirens. This area cannot even remotely be classified as rural.
Even when a dedicated force commits to a program of recruitment and retention there is still little that may be done to rectify this situation if the community is not on the same page. If the community does not feel that the effort is worth it you may be doomed to failure. Remember, it is the community that sets the level of protection, not the fire department.
You may also want to consider getting Chief Jack Snooks' book on Volunteer Firefighter Recruitment and Retention published by the IAFC.
Whatever you do, use your head and stay safe. Good luck.
08-20-2001, 10:12 PM #4
- Join Date
- Jan 1999
- Canton, CT, USA
Ding, I think that hit it square!
Alex Capezza BS,CFEI,CFII FO1, EMT-I
08-22-2001, 04:00 AM #5
- Join Date
- Jun 2001
- Daytona Beach, FL, US
I volunteer with a county fire service. We have very limited volunteer response during the day and usually end up with one or two career personnel responding to calls by themselves, even for significant calls. One way the county is trying to avoid this problem is mutual aid agreements. I've seen many political issues get in the way of this and many times help hasn't come because someone gets a better then thou attitude. The end results are endangered fire fighters and citizens. I think the solution is team work throughout the departments without the political issues. If your department is rural, why not get together with local businesses and form some type of agreement where volunteers can respond from work, similar to the way National Guard operates?
Stay safe.Bless all of our Fallen Brothers and Sisters. You will not be forgotten
08-30-2001, 02:16 PM #6
- Join Date
- Aug 2001
Well in my department we are really forunate when it comes to manpower cause most of our crews work in town or are retired. And this is very nice. We can afford to operate without barebones equipment but when there is a need we do deal with it. We got hit really hard in the winter being in western new york. so the gas bills were a bit pricey, but like we just recently traded some of our older HURST tools for gear from another department, they needed the jaws we needed the gear so we came to terms and it worked out really well, so try to trade what you can. If you guys ever look into magazines and stuff you can find some stuff too. But then coming back to using old apparatus I have to encurage and this is soley me, not to buy new equipent, do it in parts. My department made a b big mistake quite a few years ago and bought 2 pumpers at the same time, well when you do that, they both manage to die at the same time also. You might have seen them in a magazine cause we had a picture take of them sitting next to each other and anyways a company called American where we go them from air brushed our name off the doors and publishedit for many many years and that ****ed us off. But keeping going, we bought a tanker a long time ago. So instead of replacing the whole truck we just put a new box and tank on the back. About 7 years ago, well now its time to just get a new chasis. That way we don't quite rack up the bill. But thats my reccomendation if you need to ditch old stuff salvage what ya can. Also heres an idea like we have, if you are looking for a heavy rescue, check out Pepsi Delivery trucks with the roll up doors works excellent, even enough room for a cascade system and the jaws and everything we need. Have a nice day, hope I helped out. Opinions of mine, not my departments.Firefighter/EMT Mitch Cowen
Hose Co. 1 1st Lieutenant
Randolph Fire Co. Inc
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