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  1. #1
    morriss Guest

    Question City career FF volunteering in county

    In my area, a debate is brewing where the career city FFs are volunteering in the combination county departments. The county recently went to career personnel and plan to expand their numbers in the near future when a new station is built. The county local is threatening to seek action against the city local due to this activity. What does everyone think about this?

    I will give my two cents worth. I am a volunteer and have personally worked with many members of both sides of this issue. I think the city guys volunteering in the county are not displacing additional career county people. The raw number of paid county FFs is small compared to the total number of county FFs(paid + volunteer). I say let the city guys participate. The county citizens are getting fully trained and competent members when an emergency occurs.

  2. #2
    Quint1Medic Guest


    One of the LT's I worked for had this problem...our agency is all paid, all the time, but one of the neighboring counties is combination. He lives there, so he vollied there, and he got a ration of grief from the union. He wound up quitting the volunteer department. I think any time a career FF donates his time to a nearby department, he's going to hear about it. On the flip side, another of our career guys is the paid chief in a 99% volunteer organization, and nobody seems to say much. Go figure

  3. #3
    FirefighterReed Guest


    I volunteer in the county and we have many career guys who come out and volunteer in the county. It is actually encouraged by the career and volli. depts.

    Find em hot......Leave em wet...

    Fire Fighters job is never done

  4. #4
    FyredUp Guest


    Why is it those same guys who say you as a volly are taking a career FF job don't think twice when they work the trades on the side?

    I am talking about FF's who work construction, carpet layers, masons, truck drivers, electricians, plumbers, and so on. If a scab is a scab is a scab aren't they scabs for taking a Union Brother's job in those jobs? Or are they hypocrites because those aren't Fire jobs?

    If it's legal, no one should tell you you can't do it off duty.

    Take care,


    These are my opions, yours may differ. That's okay. Have a nice day.

  5. #5
    fyrpilot Guest


    I work as a paid firefighter and volunteer in my hometown 20 miles away. On the rare occassion my vol. dept. responds mutual aid to a career dept. I don't respond. My local does not agree with my volunteering but I am not taking away a paid postion. The vol. dept. call volume does not warrant a paid staff. Besides, what I do on my own time is my business and only mine.

  6. #6
    engine 3 Guest


    I'm trying to p.o.c. in my hometown, but the union is fighting it tooth & nail. I ask, what is our greatest threat, guys volunteering or privates? In the burbs of Chicago here, many small fire dist. rely on full-timers from other departments as p.o.c.s (paid-on-call) to cover their daytime calls. As more and more locals are discourging this, these small towns with a limited budget are being forced to cover their dist. with the next cheapest option...the privates. We have privates out here that will supply a dept with manpower only. They will cater to the needs of the requesting dept.. Once again we are shooting ourselves in the foot due to pride and past practices. We are fighting our own guys, and making the privates stronger. We truely are our own worst enemies.
    If a firefighter wants to work partime or vollie for his or her hometown dept., then let them. Just be sure the part-time dept. has workman's comp. to cover you in case of injury. Most guys working trades on their off time don't even have that. I could go on and on regarding this subject, but I would probably bore you. Stay safe!!!

  7. #7
    benson911 Guest


    Morriss - It sounds like your County has found the funds and, obviously a need, to hire some FT personnel; so a future increase in their staffing may be possible. BUT, not as long as the city FF volunteer in the county on their days off. Your county must be growing and changing, otherwise the change to a combination department would not have happened. Therefore, the County Local has every right to fight the City local if the City Local allows their members to volunteer their time in the now UNION county. I doubt the City Local allows their FF to volunteer, I expect the FF's do it on their own. If their volunteering is a threat to the County local, then they ARE a threat. IAFF members, remember your oath, never harm your brother.

    However, FyredUp makes a great point. All you FF's doing B-jobs in union trades, you're also hurting your brothers. But, in Morriss' case it's a neighbor IAFF local potentially harming another IAFF local - that's a little more hurtful than the odd, small electrical or plumbing b-jobs done by IAFF FF on their off days.

    Lastly, Engine 3 - If all these limited budget small towns can't afford FT personnel, how can they pay a private service to give them just that!! Don't believe the hype, the private FD's prove how bad their service can be time and time again. Lowball bid prices that automatically rise as soon as they've locked the town into a contract are just the beginning. If you want to help the town you live in, work to get their FD more manpower, better equipment, better funding, etc. Any town willing to threaten a private service instead of a combo or FT department can afford to pay for the personnel for the FD.

  8. #8
    FyredUp Guest


    Just for curiousity's sake what can one IAFF local do to another? And for that matter what can the IAFF do to a FF volunteering?

    And again to raise my point if they take action against a person vollying, why not against any other FF interfering with another Union job?

    I live in a small town with no paid FF's, there are only 7 paid FF's in the whole county and they are not affiliated with my volly FD. I am taking nobody's job.

    Take care,


  9. #9
    benson911 Guest


    I believe an IAFF local can get another local to be deemed a "rival agency" if they are threatening or harming them. I'm not sure how it's done, or exactly what gets a local into that position. There was a conflict between the OAPFF (OH Assoc. of Professional FF) and NOFF (Northern Ohio FF) a few years ago. The OAPFF fought NOFF through the IAFF and NOFF was deemed a rival agency to the IAFF even though they were made up of IAFF locals...very touchy and thankfully everything worked out so the two now coexist.

    As far as an IAFF local member volunteering at another FD with a different local, that sounds like grounds to be kicked out of the union.

    I haven't thought about the issue of a union FF doing a union electrician's or plumber's job. But, if the other unions want to fight against a union FF taking business from them, they may have a case. But, for the sake of this discussion, let's stick to IAFF brothers hurting each other.

    I don't wish to be misunderstood. We've gone over this issue before in this forum. I don't think a FT FF should volunteer on his/her days off for a variety of reasons. But, if a FT FF wants to do that and it doesn't infringe upon another FT FF's job, that's their business.

    I respect FyredUp's decision to volunteer on his days off because he feels his small town needs him and he's willing to take the necessary risks. But, that's not the situation here. The original post refers to two locals and one local's membership is perceived to be infringing upon the other's bargaining position. That's wrong and shouldn't occur.

    [This message has been edited by benson911 (edited August 06, 2000).]

  10. #10
    FyredUp Guest


    Benson 911-

    Again and simply I think this is an issue of hypocrisy. It is okay to infringe on other trades unions but heaven forbid you might volly.

    Explain to me how this guy is taking a career job if the FD has vollies whether he is there or not?

    I also respect your opinion not to volly. And believe it or not I even understand why many choose not to volunteer.

    Take care and stay safe,


  11. #11
    Lieutenant Gonzo Guest


    There has been a lot of banter on this thread pertaining to unionized firefighters taking jobs from the other unionized trades when they work in their off duty time. Most of the unionized trades work for large contractors on major construction projects.

    All of the firefighters I know who work as carpenters, plumbers, electricians, landscapers, etc. on their part time jobs do not work on these major construction jobs...they work for themselves doing small projects, renovations, repairs, and are self employed.

    Just my nickels worth....

    We boldly go where no one else dares...
    take care and stay safe
    Lt. Gonzo

  12. #12
    benson911 Guest


    A fulltime FF who volunteers on his/her day off on a combination department reduces that department's fulltimer's the chance to bargain for more manpower. The county doesn't even have to think about adding to the FT manpower, because their daytime staffing is augmented by the off-duty city FF. Until thos city FF stop working the county FD on their off days, the county can enjoy the staffing they provide for little cost compared to hiring more FT personnel.

    The bargaining position of the county local is reduced by the city FF's actions - that's the problem.

    Good debate, FyredUp, and I know you have direct experience on this issue. And, I understand why you do volunteer.

  13. #13
    FyredUp Guest



    You know I think we proved people can disagree on here and not resort to name calling or other such nonsense.

    I know what you are saying about the city FF's. But if the FD already has does his being a volly hurt them anymore than any other volly? Are you suggesting that all the vollies should quit to increase the demand for more full timers?

    Take care brother and stay safe,


  14. #14
    Quigs Guest


    Hello brothers. Very good debate here. I work in a career department with a strong union of 62 guys. 7 or 8 of them are volunteers at their neighborhood firehouse. They are mostly chiefs or Asst. Chiefs or something and have been at that department for years. Our city is surrounded by volunteer departments in the smaller communities that border the city on all 4 sides. Back in the 70's, the city was completely volunteer, and eventually hired paid drivers, and we grew into what we have today. Most of the volunteers were either hired by the city or left completely.

    In a matter of guys vollying on their time off, it's really never an issue here until contract time when we seek more personnel. We staff 2 engines, 1 ladder, 1 squrt, and a battalion chief around the clock. Our ladder is 4 men, engines and squrt have 3. We can go down to 11 guys, taking an engine out of service, before the spots are filled with overtime. If we catch a job that we feel is more than we can handle with what we have, we issue a second alarm. The second alarm is made up of call-back guys that staff the extra engines, and 3 local volunteer departments. We also cover the stations with other volunteer departments. As long as these companies are willing to come into the city, the politicians eat it up. Why pay for more guys when we can bring some in for free? It is a weakness within our bargaining power that we have little control over.

    If guys want to vollie on their time off, thats their business. I'm sure lots of guys live in areas that have vollie departments that could use an extra hand, especially in smaller towns during the day. However, in this case, we are talking about departments that have a combination staff, and it is causing unnecessary rivalry between two locals. Why bring this on? It only hurts the paid personnel... and not just the combination guys, either. The politicians on both sides, I'm sure, are well aware of what is going on, and they will remember this come your contract time. It is a conflict of interest here.

    Regular civilians who volunteer their time off as firefighters are different than career firefighters volunteering their time off. As union brothers, whether from the same local or not, we have a duty to respect one another. The off-duty guy vollying on his time off IS reducing the bargaining power of that infant union. These guys are trying to grow, and the off-duty guy is hindering them... the politicians will eat that up! Why do you guys need us to hire more guys? There are plenty of volunteers, even some paid guys are here for free! On the other hand, come that paid-guys contract time, if his guys are bargaining for a salary boost, the politicians can say hey, why should we pay you guys more? Some of you are volunteering to do this for free on your time off. Conflict of interest!!!

    As professionals, we need to show professionalism in our jobs... on and off duty. As union brothers, we need to reflect that professionalism and loyalty within our unions, and towards other locals.

    Stay safe!

  15. #15
    WRENCH Guest


    Very well said brother. I have said or tried to say the same thing, not maybe as eloquent as you but along the same lines. This debate has gone on in this and other forums for some time. Maybe some fresh blood and thoughts and help people understand the problems that this causes.

    Be safe

  16. #16
    Lieutenant25 Guest


    Greetings all,

    Being in the Fire Service for over 30 years, I am amazed at the evolution the Fire & Rescue Service has taken.

    Our department has evolved (from 1952 to the present) from 6 All Volunteer Companies to a combination department with 200 Career and 500 Volunteer Fire and rescue Personnel in 10 stations.

    I have trained and instructed men and women over the years, some of who are now career Captains and career Batallion Chiefs. One has even moved on and is now a Career Chief in a large City nearby.

    Many started as Volunteers, some from my original Volunteer Company.
    It's sad to see these fine folks go from "Neighborhood service" oriented Volunteers themselves, to Rabid Volunteer hating career IAFF Members. All because of the dogma "force fed" by a certain faction of that Union. Not all, but the elite few.

    I hear Benson iterate the oath - Never Hurt a brother. It seems that mean "only" if you are a Union members or career firefighters.

    I was raised in a spirit of the Fire and Rescue Service that called ALL dedicated individuals Brother and/or Sister. This being regardless of which path they chose in life. (Volunteer or Career)

    I have observed many Union members quit the Union because they would would not be told what they could do or do not due in their spare time to help THEIR HOMETOWN.
    I have also seen the pendulum fall the other way. Good, usefull, sorely needed volunteers (career by profession) quitting due to merciless union pressure. Sadly, this occurs much to much in towns and Hamlets not able to afford a career force.

    At the recent IAFF National Convention, a resolution was passed that if a Union Member is now found to be a volunteer, he/she is expelled from the IAFF for life. That sounds like something carried to an extreme.

    If the IAFF was truly forward thinking, and this is my opinion, they would embrace the volunteers. I have seen, just recently in this City, the volunteers were the ones who changed the minds of City Council and were able to get the City to rethink a much deserved pay raise for the career force, after the Council had declared their "No raise" policy a 'dead' issue.
    Does that sound like a group of people out to hurt a Union member's bargaining power?

    On the other hand, the IAFF Local did nothing but use unsubstantiated and unproven scare tactics in the local news media, that embarassed the Fire Chief and the Department as a whole.
    Not smart to bite the hand that signs your paycheck, or that which you have to sit across the table from, when it's time for an promotion interview.
    You get more flies with honey than vinegar.

    Most, if not all, volunteers support career firefighters because they KNOW what the real deal is.
    When the bells rings, ALL the BS MUST stop to get the job done.

    Please do not crucify me for my opinion. I happen to see a great injustice to all in the Fire Service by factions drawing a line in the sand over Union and Volunteer. We all have the same goal in mind......Put the wet stuff on the red stuff, and save lives and property of our neighbors.

    God bless!


    [This message has been edited by Lieutenant25 (edited August 09, 2000).]

  17. #17
    HHoffman Guest


    Could you give me the resolution number that states if you volunteer you will be kicked out of the union. I was at the convention and I don't remember that resolution. I remember resolutions about rival organizations, but not about kicking members out of the union for being a volunteer.

    Now the By-Laws of the IAFF state that charges may be filed if a member works a secondary job as a paid on call, volunteer, part-time firefighter. The member would still have to go before a review board.

    All I ask is if you want to pass on information, make sure it is right before you do.

    Henry C. Hoffman Jr.

  18. #18
    FyredUp Guest


    Hey LT Gonzo,

    I went back and reread your last posting. I need you to explain something to me if you would.

    Since the FF's you know only work small non-union scab jobs that makes it okay? If I use that rationale it must be okay to volly where I live because it is a small non-union FD...

    I am not trying to be a smart aleck here, just pointing out the inconsistency of the argument.

    I think perhaps it is time for all of us to agree to disagree. Because you ain't gonna change my mind and I sure ain't gonna change yours!!

    I must say though it was great to be in this discussion where it didn't get ugly.

    Take care all and saty safe,


    By the way just for the record...I would not volly in the situation stated in the original post.

  19. #19
    Buck Guest


    I was just thinking....

    If you are a union firefighter and you are driving home and a wreck just happend and you drove up on it, Would you stop and help?

    Just about every FF I know would stop and help out.

    Now if you did that you would be doing your fellow union brothers job and not get paid for it.

    What if you lived in a VFD district and your neighbors house caught fire in the kitchen and you could knock it out with a garden hose, would you?

    Just some thoughts!! I think you get my point!!

  20. #20
    Lieutenant25 Guest


    Mr. Hoffman,

    The resolution was reported to me by a union member of the career staff working at my station.

    If what he told me was incorrect, then I will be the first to rejoice in that fact.

    This fellow also told me he has no medical, dental plan or pension plan sponsored by the union. Is that also incorrect?

    Stay safe!

  21. #21
    jj1967 Guest


    I hesitate to tread on this thin ice, but I've been a volunteer in numerous places. In the Northeast few career firefighters volunteer due to pressure from their locals. The department I was on in North Carolina had seven members who were career firefighters in the neighboring city (where we were contracted to provide coverage in some border neighborhoods). It was never a problem. Several of our officers were FF in the city, yet they stayed in command if they were the first in to a city call. When the city came to us, the battalion chief walked up to me and asked what I needed. Never a problem. The leadership of the city department was in large part responsible. If a city firefighter was on a volunteer engine at a city fire when he was do to start his shift he got put on the clock. A little understanding goes a long way.

    And yes, I find it very hypocritical that union fire fighters think nothing of stealing jobs from other unions working as plumbers, roofers, carpenters etc. The union vs. volunteer issue is the big reason why the worlds largest and best fire department (FDNY) is no longer represented by the IAFF.

  22. #22
    HHoffman Guest


    At this time I know of no National Union backed retirement, or medical plans. Some locals have plans for the members.

    jj1967 - If I remember right both the uniformed officers (Local 854) and the firefighters (Local 94) have a locals in the IAFF.

    Henry C. Hoffman Jr.

  23. #23
    firefighter577 Guest


    I'm paid in one city and I volunteer where I live which is in a different county. We have 16 rural Volunteer Depts. and 1 paid the Dept. The paid Dept. is not allowed to respond outside of the city limits. Therefore the volunteers are not having an impact on the livelyhood of our city brothers and sisters. One thing to think about and to research is what happens in the event of a tradegy. Last year a friend of mine left us in a church fire along with 2 other firefighters. Two of them were career and were volunteering off-duty at the time of the fire. The debate over their benefits is still on going. Check with your locals to see what would happen if this, God forbidding would happen again. It caused me to think about my kids and wife and their wellbeing and I had to answer alot of questions about it being wortth it to volunteer. I still do.

    Be safe,

  24. #24
    Thoe1 Guest


    A league is waiting for more Firefighters
    Full Contact football

    League name USAF Firedawgs


    Also in Yahoo league name USAF Firedawgs

    Your doing it right if your doing it
    FOR HIM !!!

  25. #25
    Irish Emeralds Guest


    WRONG. I'm a career FF in a combo dept. One thing Vol members can't get is that we are union members. Union members don't under cut other union jobs. Volunteering is a hobby to some, a fulfillment to others, which is why this is hard to get. Plumbers, electricians, masons etc would never allow cheaper labor or non union members to under cut them. If a career FF wants to volly then do it in a town that is 100% volly. I would not do either. Many say this is one of the most dangerous jobs in the world. My family has to worry when I'm working, they don't need to worry when i'm off so my choice is not to cut the chances of injury and not volly for their sake.

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