1. #1
    actionj21
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post Paid FF. vs. Volunteer

    GREETINGS ALL I AM ABOUT TO SHARE SOME INTRESTING STUFF WITH YOU. I AM A VOLUNTEEER
    IN A COMBINATION DEPT. IN PENNSYLVANIA THERE ARE 5 SATIONS IN THIS TOWNSHIP THERE ARE MORE VOLUNTEERS THEN PAID PERSONEL AND MY STATION HAS THE MOST MEMBERSHIP AND HAS NO PROBLEM PUTTING THE TRUCKS ON THE STREET IN RECORD TIME.OUR PROBLEM IS THE TOWNSHIP AND THE UNINON JUST FINISHED ARBITRATION AND THE RULING WAS JSUT ISSUED EARLIER THIS MONTH
    THE UNION WON THE ARBITRATION. WHAT THEY ARE GETTING IS 3 MORE DEPUTY CHIEFS AND 6 CAPTIANS NOW THEY ARLREADY HAVE 3 OFFICERS THE CHIEF,DEPUTY,FIRE MARSHALL.THINGS HAVE GONE PRETTY WELL UP TO NOW COMAND WAS SHARED BETWEEN THE VOLUNTEER OFFICERS AND THE TWP. OFFICERS.THE PROBLEM IS WITH THESE NEW CAPTIANS THEY ARE GOING TO GET CONTROL OF THE FIREGROUNDS IF A CHIEF IS NOT PRESENT
    SO THEY OUTRANK THE VOLUNTEER CAPTIAN AN LUTS. SOME OF THESE VOLUNTEERS ARE MORE QUALIFIED TO RUN AN INCIDENT.NOW THIS IS GOING TO DAMAGE THE MORAL OF THE VOLUNTEERS
    AND ITS GOING TO CHASE THEM AWAY AND THAT IS WHAT THIS LOCAL OF IAFF IS TRYING TO DO.
    SO THEY CAN JUSTIFY THE HIRING OF MORE GUYS
    AND THEY WANT TO RUN EMS OUT OF THE FIRE DEPARTMENT WHERE IS NOW THE LOCAL HOSPITAL HANDLES IT.CANT YOU SEE WERE FIGHTING FOR OUR VERY EXCISTANCE HERE THIS CONTRACT IS GOING TO COST THIS TOWNSHIP ABOUT 1 MILLION DOLLARS AND ITS GOING TO RAISE TAXES AND THE PEOPLE ARE GOING TO LEAVE.WE HAVE ALWAYS TRIED TO WORK TOGETHER BUT NOW IT SEEMS THAT WERE DONE.BUT WE WILL NOT GO DOWN WITHOUT A FIGHT. NOW LET ME KNOW WHAT YOU THINK.....!

    SOME ADDITIONAL INFORMATION SOME OF THESE PAID GUYS I WOULD NOT TRUST TO RUN AN INCIDENT BECAUSE THEY ARE BOOK SMART BUT NOT STREET SMART.SOME OF THEM WILL STAB YOU IN THE BACK AS SOON AS YOU GIVE THEM THE CHANCE.
    IN THIS TOWNSHIP THERE ARE ABOUT 3,000 CALLS FOR THE FIRE DEPT. EACH YEAR AND GROWING AND THE FIRE LOAD IS INCREASING EVERY YEAR.
    VOLUNTEERS SAVE TAXPAYERS ABOUT 4 BILLION DOLLARS ANNUALY.

    [This message has been edited by actionj21 (edited May 24, 2000).]

    [This message has been edited by actionj21 (edited May 27, 2000).]

  2. #2
    HHoffman
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Cool

    This is a situation I could never understand. If I worked as a plumber I would not stand for a part time or volunteer plumber being in my chain of command. That being said, why should a person that works as a firefighter or driver have to work under an officer that is part time or volunteer. Some of the departments around here have paid drivers, volunteer line officers, volunteer chiefs, and a paid commish. Talk about a deadend job!!!

    If you have paid members then you should have paid officers. The volunteers get mad when the paid members talk like this. It would not be so funny if someone offered to do the job you do for a living for free!!

  3. #3
    Dalmatian90
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Cool

    But we're firefighters and not plumbers. Firefighting is a fairly unique profession in it's organization. Most things in life can be staffed and delivered at a consistent level. Firefighting, done right and safely requires a few people on a regular basis and a lot of people on a few occassions. So volunteer and combination departments will be a fact of life forever in the U.S. I haven't seen many standards recently calling for a minimum of 13 plumbers to respond to a routine plumbing job

    Your status as paid or volunteer really has little to do with your compentency or quality, and attitudes of resentment should be checked at the door. It doesn't matter.

  4. #4
    HHoffman
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Question

    Dalmatian90,
    Could you explain how the number of firefighters has anything to do with my post? I stated that it is not right that a full time firefighter has to work for a part time or volunteer officer. Thank God I work in a fully paid department.

    It sound like to me that actionj21's department is turning into a career department. I don't understand why you would want a volunteer officer over a career officer of the same rank.

    I have no problem with volunteer departments. The problem I have is with the combination departments. If feel the departments should have career officers and driver/firfighters. The volunteers can fill in as firefighters and back up drivers. A fire department with career members can not be managed by a part time boss. I am not talking about on scene, but payroll, insurance, and the like.

    This is just my 2 cents, and I am not out to beat up on anyone.

    ------------------
    Henry C. Hoffman Jr.

  5. #5
    Dalmatian90
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    Because the number of firefighters needed to work efficiently compared to the resources of most areas are what neccesitates on-call fire forces.

    Most other occupations, you can staff at a fairly uniform level for both day to day and plan for or wait extended times for help for extraordinary situations.

    The Fire Service needs a lot of manpower very quickly -- and in most communities that's best provided by on call or a combination of on-call and career staff.

    Why wouldn't you have a competent volunteer officer supervising career firefighters? What's wrong with it...other than bruising someone's ego? Many communities, the volunteers may see more fires responding to calls 24x7 than career firefighters working 3 or 4 platoons.

    The quality of the officer isn't dictated by their reimbursement. There's a lot more that goes into competent leadership than pay.

  6. #6
    David Kuritzky
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    The problem with volunteer departments (I am a member of an all Volie Dept) is that officers are often not based on merit or ability but based on number of years in the organization, availability of volunteers to fill officer positions and even the good ol boy network of being most popular.

    If an officer is an officer because it is their turn or because the correct members were bought a round of drinks, how can that be acceptable to take a leadership role?

    Perhaps it is time that the volunteers open their managerial and command ranks to full time paid positions.


  7. #7
    SYSIPHUS
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    This isn't affirmative action boys! The most qualified person for the job should have it, irreguardless of his pay status. I want to know when my A@# is in a sling on the big one that my officer(ic) is gonna keep me accounted for and has a plan. I don't care if that person is paid or not.... Vainity has no place in our line of work. nuff said!

  8. #8
    FyredUp
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    This version of the career volly battle hits close to home. Since I am both, fortunately with different departments.

    Ultimately the most qualified person should be in command. Qualified by experience and education. I have known vollies that had tons more schooling and education that career guys with more time in. I have known career guys that spent their own time and money to get the education and training they needed. I also have known guys in both settings that were so incompetent I wouldn't let them mow my lawn.

    The real question here is this....is the same standard of knowledge applied across the board for positions whether career or volly? Is there a percieved leadership/command and control issue that these positions are supposed to correct? If not what is the reasoning behind this move?

    Good luck brother, I worked in a combination FD in the past and there are always people who look to build the gap instead of the bridge.

    Take care and stay safe,

    Don

    Being paid doesn't always make you better and doing it for free doesn't always make you superior.

  9. #9
    Medic4BD
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    While we can argue forever on the subject of volunteer vs. career, we will never resolves the issue as long as both exist.
    I have experience on both sides of the debate, as a volunteer Captain and a career FF/Paramedic. I volunteer as the EMS Captain and Chief EMS operations officer, and I work at another department. Where I volunteer we have a career staff of 4 full time FF/Paramedics and 10 part time employees, the career personnel report to the volunteer Fire Chief and the volunteer EMS Chief on an administrative level, and fall in the normal chain of command while at an incident. Two of the full time career personnel hold the rank of sergeant and function as the career staff supervisors, this has eliminated some of the career vs volunteer issues in my department, however they function as officers on an operations level and often they are the officer of the apparatus the are riding and are in charge of that crew, whether the crew is paid or not.
    What I don't understand about the department "actionj21" is talking about is trying to accomplish by having the career captain in charge of the volunteer Chief?!
    Last time I checked a Chief was a command officer and a Captain was a line officer, what we need to worry about is this, are our officers Leaders of men (and ladies, no sexism intended) would you follow your line officer into a burning building, and do you trust your command officer to make decisions while you are in there doing the job! If you don't, there is a serious problem. What difference should it make if the officer is a volunteer or paid, the job funtion is the same and the qualifications are the same, at least they should be, 2 sets of rules does not work.
    What is the purpose of having career captains functioning at a different level in the department than everyone else! If they want to be Chiefs, then let them earn it like everyone else does.
    The Department "actionj21" is talking about has a tough road to hoe, I just hope no one has to get hurt before they get over their EGO TRIP!!

    "In it for Life"

    [This message has been edited by Medic4BD (edited May 23, 2000).]

  10. #10
    Thew
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    For starters let me say that thay situation sucks. As for advice here is my two cents worth. Start by looking at your SOP's. They can provide a lot of information. As for the paid men taking IC when they arrive, if the SOP's don't specificaly say that you have to turn command over then their should be no problem. If they do then you are pretty much out of luck.

    You also talked about the chain of command, and the chain seems a little bit odd to me. Now before I start let me say this, my department is a little strange. Anyway the way my department is setup we are the only city department in the county. Every other station is a county station. And we(the county) is a paid/volunteer department. As for the city it is techically a paid department. You see all volunteers are considered county personal, but if you live in the city and volunteer your primary station will be the cities. Volunteers are also covered by county insurance, however they have to obey by both county and city rules/SOP's. Not to mention that when you fill out the volunteer application and turn it into the city department the city cheif runs your background check. Anyway as for the chain of command goes while inside the city the paid guys have control of the scene, period. However when volunteers leave the city they can techically maintain IC. And sense the volunteer department is a separate county department we have our own chief who the volunteers answer to, not the paid personel. One last thing that is odd is that in the city the volunteers have a bank account that the city department can dip into, but I think they must have our consent to do so.

    I'll admit that part of the reason our department is so strange is because it use to be all volunteer and their are some policies left over from those old days.

    Anywho that is my two cents.

  11. #11
    bob1350
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    You know, I wish all of us would stop all the paid vs. volunteer bashing. Our combination dept. hired a paid chief about nine years ago because it was too much work for a volunteer chief to handle. The dept. has progressed tremendously since. I agree volunteer chiefs should not be handling the day to day issues that affect the paid personnel. On scene, our volunteer officers are very qualified to take command of just about every incident our district has.
    Combination depts. are the best fire protection citizens can get. It saves tax payers money. Volunteers arriving on scene in their POV's can give a size-up, start EMS, start staging and accountability, do a 360 of the incident, shut down and/or cancel incoming apparatus, start wildland suppression, and on and on. Volunteers driving their POV's to scenes are not chained to a piece of apparatus, so if you need to start getting trucks back in service, you still have your manpower on scene when the fun is over and the dirty work starts(unless you really like salvage and overhaul!!)
    We are all in this together. I am proud to be a volunteer and I am proud of all the training and training opportuniies I get. No citizen in our district could tell the difference between an vollie and a career person.

  12. #12
    Crash18
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Lightbulb

    It seems to me that if a department is going to be a combination department then it should start at the top and work its way down. What I mean is all the officers should be the paid guys and the volunteers should be the manpower/workhorses of the department. I personaly would rather take orders from someone who has tested for a position then from someone whoe has been elected into a position.
    Granted there are a fair share of volunteers that may have the knoledge to be an officer. If that is so then what is stopping those individuals from testing and applying for the position? Nothing that I can think of.
    Another thing, its my belief that a good officer is smart enough to be able to take advice from those underneth him in the chain. This means that if say a guy is an officer and has little experience in situation and he has a guy under him with more experience that the officer would ask that individual for there opinion.
    Remember we are all part off the same battle, fighting on the same team, and we all have the common goals of of outting the flames, saving a life, lessening proprty damage, and the most important one portraying a good image to the citizens that we help and protect everyday.
    Just my opinion Josh.

  13. #13
    FD111
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    This is my take on the situation. I work for a combination department and I also volunteer for another. The department I work for does not have any paid officers per say, only a shift supervisor. The volunteer officers of the department technically incharge of any incident, if there is one on scene, otherwise the shift supervisor is incharge. Thus far we as the paid full time personnel have not had a problem with this command structure. I actually works out for the better, because it takes away the "I am paid and you are a volunteer" mentality. My personnal opinion on the whole paid vs. volunteer issue is this. There is no difference between the 2 except maybe 1, and that is that the one who is getting paid "ONLY FIGHTS FIRE WHEN HE OR SHE IS ON DUTY, WHERE AS THE VOLLIE DOES IT JUST ABOUT EVERYDAY OF THERE LIFE!!!!". So tell who is more qualified to run or manage a scene, the paid guy who may only do it about every third or fourth day or the vollie who does almost daily???
    Yes, there are things that the paid side of the fire fighting force is able to do alittle better, but this is not always the case. We all train the same way, training on the same issues. The only advantage the paid industry may have is the fact that they are able to specialize there forces. So that may give them an advantage in the training they receive in that specific field, but the vollie has to train in all aspects of the fire service. Yes, I know that there are vollie departments out who have the luxury of being able to specialize, but not all vollie departments are able to do this.
    I think I have said my piece on this issue. This has become such a rediculous issue over the last few years, I don't like to talk about it.

  14. #14
    mark440
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Thumbs down

    In the dept I am a member of we have 1 Chief, 3 Asst. Chief, 1 Capt/T.O., 4 Lt.'s, 10 FF/EMT-I, 8 FF/EMT, 4 FF. The problem is the newest of the Lt's. We have GREAT Officers except for the newest. He is on the power trip. This position came about basically from a popularity contest. He and I have clashed on subjects beofore when he was a FF. He does not like to accept the fact that he is incorrect. So the problem now is, what to do? Do I just turn and take it up the tail pipe, or rebel a little? This is one of those people that expect a salute and a 'sir' wether On-Duty or Off-Duty and will reprimand if not carried out. In house I respect the position and the Red Helmet, but on the fireground I do not trust his judgement or ability. Thank God he is not the IC on any incidents greater than a simple medical. But he is still in a position to give orders.
    Any Advise?

    Mark

    ------------------
    If in doubt - Call us out

  15. #15
    Brian Dunlap
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Angry

    The arguments over this crap really burn my *** !!! Each and everyone of us out there have a job to do whether we are career or volunteer...In a Combination Department has always been my understanding that the career end of the combination is there to off-set the volunteers response during critical hours {mainly day-time} So if an availible Volunteer officer from the "combo" department responds to the incident that officer should command the incidet unless arriving late into the incident in which case command should be the first officer on scene career or volunteer....Fire, My fellow brothers and sisters could care less if you get a pay check or not and all the residents from our small suburbs to large urban cities want is a fire truck in rapid response to their call for help !!! Vollies need to drop the "Career guys think they are better then us" Attitude and the career guys especially in "combo" departments need to understand that firefighting began in this country as a volunteer entity long before the IAFF was even an itch in somebodys pants...Simply put...Work together, Work safely, Do it often, and Do it right we should never be against each other what we should be doing is taking care of each other...enough said !!

  16. #16
    bob1350
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    Brian,
    Well done!! I couldn't have said it better myself

  17. #17
    Romania
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    Hello again,
    Those of you who have been around for a while know how little tolerance I have for the Paid/Volunteer conflict. I am both a paid and a volunteer firefighter.

    Now my issue is with the part about the fire department taking over EMS from the hospital. Any firefighter who cannot see the benefit of providing more service to the community, especially something as basic as EMS is so short sited that they are a danger to their community. Our job is life safety and providing EMS goes hand in hand with that. I have seen very few fire service based EMS systems that haven't provided better, faster , and more effecient care than private/third agency based systems can. Besides, do you really think that a hospital (private or public) could continue to provide EMS servcies in todays health-care economy for very long? Infact, I wouldn't doubt it in the least if a hospital providing EMS isn't a violation of the same law that prevents hospitals from restcoking EMS/Transport agencies without charging.

    It is time that the fire service as a whole opens up our eyes and realize that our jobs aren't just putting the wet stuff on the red stuff. There was a sign visible in the firehouse on backdraft... "100 years of tradition unimpeded by progess". Not in my department!

    ------------------
    Alan Romania, CEP
    romania@uswest.net
    IAFF Local 3449

    My Opinions do not reflect the opnions of the IAFF or Local 3449.



  18. #18
    Dalmatian90
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    Oh why, oh why am I responding here again? Oh well, here it goes...

    What I mean is all the officers should be the paid guys and the volunteers should be the manpower/workhorses of the department...Granted there are a fair share of volunteers that may have the knoledge to be an officer. If that is so then what is stopping those individuals from testing and applying for the position? Nothing that I can think of.

    Uh, maybe because a lot of very good volunteer officers aren't just good fire officers but also good businessmen, engineers, and professionals who couldn't even conceive of the cut in pay they would have to take to do what they love full time? Or giving up their business, or family farm, or professional accrediations?

    The ability to grasp a situation, formulate a plan of action, and lead people in carrying it out really has very little to do with how you make your living. Our we to shut them out from using their talents to help the fire service merely because they don't do this full time?

    Cut the whining and posturing folks...Combination Departments will remain the most economic and efficient model to safely and effectively provide EMS and Fire Protection to citizens in most places in the U.S. outside of the urban core cities. It's going to happen that you have very talented career officers, and very talented volunteer officers, and turkeys from both. Let the best people hold the best positions.

  19. #19
    FyredUp
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    Okay....Here it is.

    Plain and simple...we are all firefighters. The pay status means little in the heat of the battle. What does matter then is the level of skill and dedication to the task at hand.

    As stated previously, I am both career and volly. What really upsets me about this whole stupid issue is the gap seems to get wider instead of narrowing. Why? Pride? Turf wars? Tradition? Stupidity? As we continue to battle within, spinning our wheels and going nowhere...the power we could exert if unified falls away from us. I don't think the fact that federal money comes hard if at all is any coincidence. I don't think the fact that federal or even state and local fire safety laws and standards are weakened is a coincidence. We do it to ourselves by showing a splintered, non-cohesive image to the lawmakers.

    Furthermore, the stupidity of all this is evident at the scene of any emergency....people in trouble don't give a rat's *** whether you are paid or not. They expect and receive the best care you can provide. Isn't that what this is really all about?

    If I need help I don't ask the fire department or ems crew about their pay status. I just want help.

    Take care my brothers and sisters.

    Don

  20. #20
    FireRebel
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    let's face it as volunteers most of you would like to be on a paid department and most of the paid firefighters were volunteers at one time so it kind of goes hand in hand, I wasa volunteer for 4 years and loved the experience I have made, I am currently testing to become a career firefighter, in my opinion with the population continually on the rise and the numbers of vollie departments struggling to keep their staffing numbers up, eventually you will see more combo and paid departments, and what will be wrong with that, we has taxpayers should be so glad to send our money to the fire service.....just my opinion.....

    ------------------
    Jason Davis

  21. #21
    heuveltonfire
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    I am a volunteer fireman. I am the foreman So I get the job of fixing all the broken stuff. The way things are going in NY, There won't be any volunteer fireman in the near future dur to all the requirements they are throwing down. I have a regular job and then i spend over 30 hours at the statiion working on stuff not including the calls I go on. I liked someones comment that volunteer fireman fight fire all the time and paid firemen only do it when on duty. I like the idea of officers getting paid. but when you are from a small town and have trouble paying the feul bill, how can we ever think about getting paid.

  22. #22
    ProPyro1
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    As a call firefighter, I agree that the career firefighters should be the fire line officers. Not to say that you can't have call officers as well, but at the incident, let the career guy have the command. Here is why...from 8 to 4 everyday what is the call line officer doing? Working his normal job, honing the skills of his trade. What is the career officer doing? (or should be doing) The same, only his skills include familiarization with pre-plans, ICS procedures, ect...in other words, they will probably more up-to-date on what's going on in the community with respect to things that could impact firefighting operations.
    Don't get me wrong...some of the old call officers will probably know things about the community that would stump a career officer...like where to get a backhoe at 3 am for trench rescue, ect... I say this because most call officers are long-time residents of the community. I guess the key here is really cooperation.
    As a call firefighter, I'm not out to take anyone's job, that's for sure. But, at the same time, I want to do my part in the community, and I enjoy my time spent at the fire station. I have no problem working side by side with a career firefighter or following the orders of a career officer.

  23. #23
    tigger
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    There are MANY good points here! Bottom line, folks, we are ALL firefighters! The patients don't know/care if we are paid or not, the "fire" does not know/care if we are paid or not. Whether we are paid or not should NOT be the issue! The issue should be are we qualified for the job? I say that if you are qualified for the job, whether you are paid or not should not matter on rank. Even in a combination department, (which I happen to be a vollie in). I do not have a problem with a volunteer officer over a paid firefighter, if they can do the job, then more power to them! (That's a lot of effort/work they are donating their time for!)
    We are all brothers & sisters! I get frustrated seeing the bickering on these forums. (I am fairly new to them, but I'm getting a bit discouraged). I'd really like to see more support amongst ourselves, our jobs are stressful enough as it is, we don't need to add more by fighting with each other.
    Please, remember why we're here.

    Take care & be safe!
    tigger

    ------------------
    Pull to the Right for Sirens & Lights!

  24. #24
    bob1350
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    Since I'm not familiar with how on-call firefighters are utilized, (do you respond whenever you want or just when you are "called") but from my experience, volunteer line officers get much more experience because they (including myself) are going to see a lot more fires than a paid officer is because the paid officer is usually working only about 10 days a month. Our dept. utilizes both career and volunteer officers in Command Positions. Normally, the first arriving officer takes command. If it is a working structure fire, the first arriving engine co. officer will pass command to the next arriving officer. I should also say that our officers receive excellent training in ICS and Strategy and Tactics.

  25. #25
    FFTrainer
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Angry

    This is the deal as I see it....

    I have been on both sides of the fence here so let me see if I can express this the way I want to...

    As I have said before and will stick by forever, Fire doesn't care if you collect a paycheck or not, it still happens. If you have a combination dept, I would think you would want the Career guys to be the "senior" officers since they will always be there unlike volunteers who have to work elsewhere to collect a paycheck. I know that in my volunteer dept. if by chance none of the line officers show for a job during the day, all hell breaks loose trying to figure out who are the chiefs and who are the indians(and nobody wants to be the indian). By no means does this mean that the volunteer should be left out of the officer ranks.

    The way we did it was this... The career guys were the senior officers on each job, with normal ranking "rules"(Chief, asst. Chief, Capt. and so on.) The Volunteer group had their own Chief and Asst. Chief also. These 2 officers were in charge of all volunteer company operations day to day, but come fire time, they were who the career officers looked to as the senior vollie who could depend on to get them what they needed(manpower, equip, etc). Now, with the evolution of the IMS system, it has also become the case that the Career officer may be the IC but to fill all the other positions(Accountability, Ops, Water, Rehab, Safety, etc) the Volunteer Officer has and will take on new roles.

    Unfortunately, this battle will go on forever... Each may have his/her opinions, and some of them make perfect sense in either direction. In the end, what works best for your dept. is all that matters. What happens the next town away, county away, and so on, means nothing to you. Your dept should be your focus and designing the best plan given your resources shouuld be your goal.

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