04-28-2000, 08:52 PM #1COFireLtFirehouse.com Guest
Volunteers NOT ALLOWED To Respond
I have a friend who recently moved to another city with a combination department. Except there's one catch to being a volunteer there. He says that the volunteers are not allowed to respond to most calls. Personally, this would irritate the heck out of me, they are only allowed to respond to Major or larger incidents requiring more manpower than the paid staff can provide. This equals out to only be about 10 or so calls a month. (The dept. runs about 4 calls a day) Does anyone know of other departments who treat volunteers this way? How can he and the others convince the chief and the community that the volunteers need to be more active. They're required to attend alot of training, but never get to use it. If a person experienced a medical emergency at their home and their neighbor is a volunteer FF/EMT but does'nt respond because he's not allowed to, can that person file lawsuit against the department on grounds that the dept. member had a duty to respond? especially when the first due or medic unit is several miles away.... PLEASE give me some insight on how this could be reversed, facts & statistics would be the best but I'm sure there are any on a subject such as this.
Thanks in advance for your insights and suggestions.....
BECAUSE LIFE COUNTS......
04-28-2000, 10:39 PM #2E21Firehouse.com Guest
There has been a lot of problems with paid and volunteer depts. It sickens me because it shouldnt matter if you get paid or not, that fire that is burning doesnt care if you get paid or not. Nor will the public they just want to get out and it wont matter who does it. Now as for those type of problems (not being allowed to respond) I have NEVER heard of that, so I would suggest somebody advice the public at hand of the situation. Good example would be to start with the one in your article about living next door. This dept sounds like it wont have many vols very long and it sounds like it would rather put the public at risk then get along and get the job done safely.
These are my opinions only, and it sounds like a real problem in that community. In are dept you respond with your own car or ride with the truck if your at the station but get there.
I dont know much to say because I have never heard of this before but GOOD LUCK. Hope the situation can be solved.
04-29-2000, 08:41 AM #3F02Firehouse.com Guest
How many paid staff respond? A 3or4 man engine should be able to handle a pan on the stove.You really want to leave work or home to go to 4 calls a day like this? 10 "good" calls a month ain't enough? The EMS I've got to agree, if your neighbor is hurt help them.If your in trouble for doing it,resign.I'm talking neighbors not someone 10 blocks or 2 miles away.It's not necesary for 15 or so to show up at a scene.Could this be what management is trying to avoid?
04-29-2000, 07:54 PM #4COFireLtFirehouse.com Guest
I can understand what you're saying as far as in the city limits. However, this district is just under 500 square miles, only operatining out of one station. The volunteers must live within 8 miles of the station..... They also are not allowed to keep bunkers in their cars, it has to be at the station, so when they can respond, sometimes they are forced to drive past the scene on the way to the station to get their gear. Now I know someones going to say "what can they do without a truck" WEll, in EMS, they can start BLS, on motor vehicle accidents, they can do a scene sizeup, triage, BLS ect... NOw fire, well, not o whole lot without the water, and in those cases thew would want to get the apparatus out the door. and on those calls where the paid staff is responding, the volunteers could backfill the station in case of multiple calls. The volunteers are also not allowed to run lights or siren on POV's. Now I can understand that on EMS or littler alarms, but on all others they can just tune the radio station and enjoy the sunday drive to the station..... Then they fire up the rigs and it's an emergency response with the petal to the metal.... I say the fact is ALL volunteers pick and choose their alarms, but if a voulunteer is relatively close, they can be a tremendous help to the paid staff, the patient, and the community......
BECAUSE LIFE COUNTS......
04-30-2000, 12:42 PM #5Frank AllenFirehouse.com Guest
At the end of your paragraph you say the fact is "ALL volunteers pick and choose their calls". Well maybe where you are from. Where I am from there is only 1 pd department in a 3 county area. that is about 90 different departments. This is where I have troubles with people. I dont know wether you think you are better at what you do or what. My department last year went on 146 calls (fire + EMS) the only ones I missed were a couple of basic calls when I was at work and I could not beleive it. I normally have no problem with paid Firefighters but when you think you all that I dont want you ever on my scene. We take the same training as you do, and as far as I am concerned volunteers are more professional because we do it because we have to, to help people in need. You do only for a paycheck. This is not bashing all paid firefighters just the few that think they are better. Remember 3/4 of all firefighters are volunteer. Now that is professionalism. When the last time you had to raise money to by equipment for you department. most likely never because you are used to the city just handing overwhat you want. Would you be willing to volunteer for your department?
Sorry if I step on any toes here, but people like this get to me.
Pindars Corners Fire Dept.
Just my opinion, this has nothing to do with my department.
"Volunteer and Loving it"
[This message has been edited by Frank Allen (edited April 30, 2000).]
04-30-2000, 12:52 PM #6COFireLtFirehouse.com Guest
Yes Frank I did say that, you see my dept. ran just under 1200 calls last year.... And I do pick and choose SOME of my calls, I just don't see busting through town clear across our district for a medical or minor MVA. When I know that there are others who live closer to the station or the actual scene. Now, did you get the message there when i said that I DO PICK AND CHOOSE SOME CALLS.....That's right.....I AM A VOLUNTEER.. I think you may have read more of what you wanted to read than actually comprehend what you read... Now that you may have said to yourself, "self, i need to slow down some" at least tell me about the topic I wanted to get advise on, what would be your reaction if your dept said you can only respond to certain types of alarms..... Thanks, and yes....I forgive you for jumping to the conclusion that I was paid..
04-30-2000, 04:11 PM #7Haligan125Firehouse.com Guest
Ok, I am a call member on a department like that. About 60 full time and 120 call. It works out good. The full time guys run the rescues and two engines, they handle all stills, and we respond on all box alarms. They union guys get paid to do that all the time so there is no problem. I don't know of many departments that have there call guys go on every call when they have full time personel. Also you can't complain about not being allowed to respond and then pick and choose what calls you can respond on. That's stupid. It seems to me you just want to complain
04-30-2000, 05:45 PM #8COFireLtFirehouse.com Guest
Yeah you're right halligan, that's exactly what I'm out to do, you see, you have 60 career staff, which could handle most all calls, I'm talking a total of 16 career staff with a district of nearly 500 square miles. As far as complaining about not being allowed to respond then picking and choosing, well, it looks as if you didn't read entirely before talking, I'll repeat my self, yes I do pick and choose, by that I mean that I'm not going to bust through town to respond to minor alarms that are way far from ;my area when others are closer, that's just plain dangerous. But I will complain when a call is announced that I can respond to, start BLS, or whatever..... when i know the first due is several miles from the scene and a volunteer is NOT ALLOWED to respond. Personally, I have been on several departments, both as a carrer and volunteer member, I feel that volunteers are a vital part of emergency services in general. If they take initiative to want to help their community on their own time they shouldn't be limited to thier options for response... I've been in the fire service for 11 years, I know when my actions are going to help or hurt the community...... MY main focus in posting this topic is to see how many places operate like this and the opinions of those who don't. Basically, I'm glad it works in your area, but in this particular system, I think it needs some regrouping...
04-30-2000, 08:05 PM #9bfd1071Firehouse.com Guest
I think i see what you are talking about. In my state we have combo depts. They staff the firehouse with paid guy's and if anything come's in that those guys cant handle they call in the MAN POWER. The Call dept!! I can see the chief reason for this, why have 20 guys for a minor thing. Remeber, how did these people get there? Well most likely, they drove themselves in there POV's. No sence having a parade for a CO detector.
Why do you feel the need to respond to all calls? If this dept has the people to handle 99% of the calls, why should they send you too? Most combo depts use the Vollie as man power, they are like the Military reserves, when you need them they are there. The quicker people learn that the better off they will be.
** The opionions are mine and mine alone, they are not that of my dept or the local**
04-30-2000, 08:20 PM #10bfd1071Firehouse.com Guest
This is for frank...
Your comments are way off base. You say your more professional because" we have to do it" , well let me fill you in......All fires will eventualy go out!! You dont have to do it!!
3/4 of the fire dept are call/vollie, thats true, but the career depts run close to 3/4 of the calls, now thats professionalism. As for your 146 calls a year...WOW, And i thought my company was busy. We only ran 950 fires last year, 2200 plus calls, with only a handful of EMS. With your call volume i can see how you are better then me!
** The opionions are mine and mine alone, they are not that of my dept or the local**
04-30-2000, 09:47 PM #11COFireLtFirehouse.com Guest
I can see your point bfd, however, if the volunteers can't respond to the CO calls, the next time the career staff are out on a call and the volunteers have to respond as a second run to a CO call, how will they know how to handle it??? Yes they can train, but it won't stick like it would getting to repond on them. As far as eliminating the parade of vollies, once on scene with enough manpower, the IC can announce enough manpower on scene, then the vollies know to respond to the station for backfill purposes. I think that we all need to work as a team, however, when the paid guys and the vollies don't have much of a chance to create those teamwork abilities, it can become hard for all involved to know who is capable of performing what. This dept currently has less then 20 volunteers anyway, therefore i din't think we would get a big turnout for the minor stuff anyway, but at least give the vollies the option to respond in order to promote teamwork on the fireground. NOBODY is better than the other.... WE are a team just some depts just have a harder time accepting it!!
05-01-2000, 12:09 AM #12Haligan125Firehouse.com Guest
a) You don't have to race to a dub call on the other side of town if you don't want to. I never do. but you still should go. I mean I have a red bee doo light on my dash and the last time I used it to go to a call was let me see. Over six months ago. I still go to calls. ANd i still get there before they pack up. I just don't bust my asss to get there.
b)You can go to EMS calls if you want. You should be covered under a good smaritan law that allows you to pratice to your licence level untill a rescue arrives. I work for the ambulance service that cover my area, and I go to call when i am off duty If I hear them and they sound good. I mena if you see a car accident in you town whild you are driving down the road don't you stop and provide EMS care until the responding units arrive? I don't know. I think you can respond to an EMS call if you want. Oh and if you cover 500 square miles with one station. You need to think about getting more stations
05-01-2000, 12:39 PM #13wofd1Firehouse.com Guest
I can't imagine covering 500 sq. mi. out of 1 station. By the sounds the dept. is not looking out for the interests of the citizens that it protects. Myself they should consider a consulting firm to show ways of improving the service they provide(or dis-service)response times, ISO rating, etc would be priorities rather than if a volunteer gets to scene before a paid man. This is my opinion only. As a volunteer most volunteers donot pick and choose. I could give examples the other way as well.
05-01-2000, 01:46 PM #14E21Firehouse.com Guest
Hi My name is fire, and im burning out of control. I dont care if you get paid to put me out or do it for free, I just want to burn this nice families home down. So you guys keep fighting and i'll just keep burning this nice families home to the ground. Get my ponit, weather you vol. or get paid shouldnt matter. Fire doesnt care nor does the public. Yes I would say vol, pick and chose there calls, If a volunteer tells me he doesnt he is lying. Think about it your eating a nice dinner and your pager goes off. Its an AFA in a commercial building you have been too 100 times, would you get up and leave your dinner resv. to go or keep eating and wait till they confirm a working fire. As a paid guy you have no choice, but you get days off, vols are 24/7. These fight is stupid, if you vol. it should be your choice to go or not, But you should try to make the majority of the calls or otherwise why do it? Are dept policies are to make 30% of the monthly calls. We avarage 30-40 a month. Lets put are fight on fighting fires SAFELY and not whos better. The original problem was volunteers not being allowed to respond and thats wrong they should be allowed to respond period.
[This message has been edited by E21 (edited May 01, 2000).]
05-01-2000, 09:06 PM #15COFireLtFirehouse.com Guest
I'm glad that you people are finally starting to speak on the actual topic instead of bickering like a bunch of senior citizens (sorry grandma!!) Anyway as far as the covering a large district out of one station issue is concerned well, this is where it starts to get good. You see we do have a "Rural Fire District" however there is a contract to the city dept. which states that they will provide responses to these area's outside of the city limits. The contract is to expire next year and there's a huge fight over the upcoming contract and weather it is in the best interest of the rural community to have the city respond to this large area. The rural fire board has considered forming their own rural fire department without awarding the contract to the city, they do have their own apparatus, which is kept at the city station. However, for some ;unknown reason, the rural community seems to feel that having the city dept respond clear out to BFE (like i said almost 500 square mile dist.) To put out their house and to care for thier family is in their best interest. They seem to think that an engine coming from the city to thier place 15 miles away will have a better response time than an all vollie rural department with a couple stations placed strategically throughout the district. Who knows, maybe they're all in-bred, (uncle daddy!) Now the intersting thing is the rural board will have some vacancies come this election, and i know of at least two career city firefighters who are running for seats on the board, they do live in the rural district, outside the city limits, so, I guess that can be considered fair, however with these people on the board, the city will most likely be the protection agency for the rural district. As for my opinion, well, i live in the rural district.......LET'S NOT GO THERE!!!!
05-01-2000, 10:22 PM #16wofd1Firehouse.com Guest
05-01-2000, 10:34 PM #17wofd1Firehouse.com Guest
E21, have u or your co-workers ever picked what calls to go back in on when your crew was the call in? A career dept in the area here will just shut their pager off so it doesn't effect there other full-time job, did i say shut the pager off i meant shut their ear off to the pager. Happens quite often by the sounds of the tones. Take away your paychecks and lets see if you still say its your job. Its mine.
COFireLT- the big reason for the career men wanting to get on the board as you call it is probably JOB SECURITY. A few around here have tried to do so in the past to no avail. Has anything been said in your previous posts as to what the ISO rating of the 500 sq.mi. district is. just wondering.
these are my opinions and only mine.
05-02-2000, 09:21 AM #18E21Firehouse.com Guest
WOFD1, are dept has two paid on duty at the station 24/7. They drive the appratus to the call and pump water vols do the rest. We have 3 engs, 1 lad. 1 rescue, and there is another dept in town as well with 2 paid on duty 24/7. Those paid guys cant turn there pagers off cause they dont have any pagers. They here the call at the station and take off, PD pages the call overe the air. Vols will respond to the scene. There have been calls I have said no im not going I will admit it, but if its a working fire or fire reported I will go. I'm availble durning they day cause I work nights so I make the majority of the day calls. I would say most vols will respond but they can pick and choose there is NO doubt about it. Face it if your have an event at home (family gathering, barbeque, ect.) and an AFA comes in at a bulding you have been two 100 times your most likely not going to go.
05-02-2000, 10:42 AM #19wofd1Firehouse.com Guest
Ihave left golf tournaments to go to calls as well as county events to make calls. Know you say you have chosen calls to respond . ha
05-02-2000, 11:12 AM #20E21Firehouse.com Guest
WOFD1, I apologize, I did not know you were a chief. Sir with all do respect if I were an officer in my dept I Guess I would have to responde in the middle of a golf outting. Are chief is a retired paid ff and he respondes to everything. I'm just a volunteer not an officer, I cant tell anybody what to do. My point is that an alarm is going off at a buliding I know 99% chance it is malfunctioning or accidental (been there 100 time already in 6 years) and there is manpower already enroute why should I leave my event. Again i'm not an officer I have no pull. If they confirm a worker well then see ya no matter were I am. I will say this I do respond to the majority of calls otherwise I see no point to volunteering. But there have been times I have said nope not this one.
[This message has been edited by E21 (edited May 02, 2000).]
05-02-2000, 04:27 PM #21KcAreaFFFirehouse.com Guest
COFireLT, sounds like quite a mess you all have. I'm a reserve in a combination dept., but I have never been told I can not respond, in one way or another. The way it works here, we run 4 stations with approx. 65 full-time personnel. There are 10 active reserves. During a large incident, or when there are a number of incidents working, the dept. will do a paid recall, in which reserves and off duty full-time crews respond to the stations to man spare rigs (reserves carry their gear, so if the scene is on the way to one of the stations, we can stop.) We also put in alot of time on the trucks when were not working elsewhere; this raises the staffing from 3 to 4, which really comes in handy when things get to hopping. Because we come in and work on our "spare time" we've earned alot of respect from the majority of the dept., suppresion staff and management alike. The best advice I can give is get together as a group, include the chief(s) who are opposed to volunteers responding, and discuss the issues in an adult-like manner. Come up with ideas that may help the dept. make, or maintain, a good name for itself - remember, there's more to being a firefighter than just running calls.
05-02-2000, 06:12 PM #22Frank AllenFirehouse.com Guest
As for picking and choosing calls I have sat in the back of funeral homes just in case my pager goes off, and yes I have left funerals and weddings for a call. As far as that goes I even left my high school graduation ceramony for a reported house fire. If I'm not at work and the pager goes off the department chief can count on one more interior firefighter being on the scene.
"Volunteer and Loving it"
05-02-2000, 06:39 PM #23BrtengrFirehouse.com Guest
I don't really want to get wrapped up in this discussion, because I would be happy with 10 calls a month, and especially only the big ones, however I have to comment on what you said on the "Good Samaritan" law. I looked into the ramifications of it in Illinois, and here the law covers you up to the point you have any training in an area. If you are an EMT and you respond to a medical call on your own and you screw up you can be personally liable. When you respond on a rig or somehow covered under an EMS Protocol you should be covered under that agency's insurance.
(I wish this thing had spell check.
05-02-2000, 07:27 PM #24Dalmatian90Firehouse.com Guest
Come on guys, get over the pick and choose!
It better damn well happen.
You better choose not to respond when your having a few at the local bar.
You better choose not to go when you have miserable cold and just took those powerful drugs.
And you better choose to balance your life and the fire station. An automatic alarm while out on the town with your wife? Take a pass. It'll help gain forgiveness when you leave her birthday party for a structure fire
This January we were at the funeral for an ex-Chief. Yep, in the middle of it we had a brush fire call. One pager went off -- because that's our procedure when we attend events like that -- one officer leaves a pager on. He tapped half a dozen guys on the shoulder and they quietly left, the next officer turned his pager on, and the ceremony continued without interruption. Depends on the call and the situation. Sometimes there are more important things in life than a minor call!
05-02-2000, 09:25 PM #25craig7404Firehouse.com Guest
Well put Dal90.
Good Luck And Be Safe
Volunteer Fire Department
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