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  1. #1
    BenFire7
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post Station/Shift Volunteers v. Traditional Volunteers

    Who as input on traditional volunteers v. in-station shift volunteers . What are your thoughts pros and cons.


  2. #2
    NCRSQ751
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    I'm not entirely sure what you mean, but we each work 12 hour shifts at the station (2 per month) and are also expected to respond on all rescue calls (not medical) via pager from home, work, wherever.

    This way we know that when someone is doing their 12 hours, there is no lag time between being toned out and response by apparatus. We staff only for someone to drive because we know folks will respond via pager.

    It's worked well for us so far.

    ------------------
    Susan Bednar
    Captain - Forsyth Rescue
    North Carolina Strike Force 1

  3. #3
    Mike DeVuono
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    Yeah...can't say I really understand what you're asking either but we are traditional "volunteers" meaning we make what we can. I ffor some unusual circumstance a majority of the members will be out of town or something we'll hang out around the station or stay nearby.

    ------------------
    Mike DeVuono
    Warminster Fire Dept.
    Engine Co. 91

    "There are few atheists inside a burning building."

  4. #4
    BenFire7
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Lightbulb

    Just to clarify what I mean. A traditional volunteer being a person who responds by pager to alarms and is given credit for being active by X number of alarms he/she responds to.
    A Station/Shift volunteer being one who rides at a station for X number of hours a month and is credited for being active by riding the specifed amount of hours.

  5. #5
    firecop54
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    I think I understand what your asking. My dept. currently has members that work "shift"
    work. These are members who live outside of our coverage but desire to belong to our dept. In some ways this has been a good thing, as it alows us to have a crew in house and able to respond the first out unit on fire calls and also handle EMS 1st responder calls without having to get everybody out of bed at 3:00 AM. Our shiftworkers are required to put in a minimum of 24 hours a month, but most put in more than that. Our rules for these personnel are fairly strict, when they are on shift, they have to perform truck checks and clean the station, you know all those mundane task that have to be completed. Our personnel that live in the city have to respond to 35% percent of alarms per month to remain active. All must attend 50% of weekly training sessions per month. As I said this has worked fairly well for us as we are relatively busy 80 alarms in August alone.

  6. #6
    Brian Dunlap
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Thumbs up

    I Think I know what is ment here...The Pros and Cons of a Staffed Volunteer House Vs. An Unstaffed House --- I am in favor of the Staffed house at least for one Engine and/ or Ladder depending on Department needs --- It reduces response time by at least 3-4 minutes again depending on the community and reduces the chances of volunteers in P.O.V. having accidents while enroute { Look at the latest Tragedy in Texas } Prince Georges County Maryland staffs houses 24/7 with volunteers including alot of "Live-Ins" A great program for the single --- My input....Staffed houses are the way to go if you have the man-power and the call volume to warrant it ---- a company that runs less than 800-1000 calls a year may be waisting thier member's time thus causing them to walk ----

  7. #7
    BenFire7
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Lightbulb

    Thanks for the input. I currently work as a volunteer coordinator for a combination department. We currently use both types of volunteer programs, and I want to start to make the transition to a majority station volunteer system. We have seen an incresed amount of call volume and which taxes us at times. I belive by keeping people in the stations on a incresed basis that we can respond to our customers emergencies in a more timely fashion. Has anyone had experince with a tranisition such as this one????

  8. #8
    bob1350
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    I don't know where your from Ben, could be my own dept. Our combination dept. is at a cross roads. The traditional volunteer responding from home by way of a minitor in their POV vs a "non-traditional volunteer" required to spend 24-36 hours a month in a station doing very unproducting things. Along with this is time spent away from home and family. I firmly believe that volunteers responding from home can make a hug difference in a community. What do your volunteers do in the station when you have career ffer's there 24/7? The engines get out the door, and volunteers meet them at the call. Personally, I dont't want to get up in the middle of the night, ride an engine to a minor medical call, possibly get cancelled enroute by EMS, then try to get back alseep so i can function in my day job. If the tone goes out for a structure fire, Ill be there. Forcing volunteers into the stations of combination depts. is unproductive. What kind of turnover do you have along with your call volume and district size?

  9. #9
    NCRSQ751
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Talking

    One thing we do to encourage people covering the trucks is allow those that live within the first response district to take trucks home with them and respond from there, this eliminates much of the time away from family.

    We have folks that work a variety of jobs also, so that some folks are available at night, some during the day etc. We don't ask people to be on duty when they have to work the next day - they sign up for shifts according to their personal schedule.

    As for the issue of what to do while at the station, we all have the traditional chores to do on duty, cleaning, washing apparatus etc.

    We also encourage folks to train or do public service stuff while on duty. They visit schools, churches, daycares to do basic awareness/safety stuff. They also visit other departments we respond with to do cross training. We have some that check on the elderly in our community. We also encourage on rainy days, viewing training tapes and keep a good selection of trade magazines around.

    The time will be as productive as you make it.

    ------------------
    Susan Bednar
    Captain - Forsyth Rescue
    North Carolina Strike Force 1

  10. #10
    BenFire7
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Exclamation

    Bob you have a great point. There is time spent away from families. The fact of the matter is what the volunteer does at his/her respective station when their on duty makes them productive. This is a oppourtine time to train to learn your first due area, or get out and interact with the community.

    Also looking at the bigger picture to the customers that we serve it is benefical to have more people in the stations. If that tone goes out for the "Big One" not only do you have a quicker response, but you have more appartaus and less POV's on the road running hot. The flip side to that is we shouldn't view the rountine calls as a waste of our time. In this day and age we respond to ems the majority of the time. It's a nature of the beast. I personally want firefighters who know that they can't just come out for the good calls. Everybody needs to take their chunk of the calls that aren't the good and exciting calls.

    I agree that it may seem unproductive, but in a response area as big is where I serve 225 square miles with only 7 stations only two paid you can see the need for in station presence in the all volunteer stations.

  11. #11
    LHS'
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    Staffing the station with volunteers allowed us to respond to 1200 calls with big crews with an average out the door time of 45 seconds versus 4 to 6 with a respond from home mode. Some of those calls occurred at the same time ie 1 to 6 simultaneous calls at a time. The population of the community was almost 30,000.

    The program is simple, sign up for duty and attend. We owned an old house next to a station that allowed 2 to 3 single guys to live there almost 24/7 minus work or day to day life. Plus the station was set up for 7 to 11 to sleep there. Some single folks lived in the station as well. In addition we farmed out 1 to 6 vehicles 24/7 to speed response from home in a brush truck or staff car. The community was divided up in zones. So only the needed companies would respond. ie, a medical the two closet take home vehicles with defibs would respond and only be 1/2 mile at most from the calling party. When a 911 call was recieved a pre-alert was given, giving every one a heads up to respond prior to all the data being retrieved by the call tker, and in some cases we hung up the 911 call in the calling parties home.

    Not hearing a unit respond immediately after the pre-alert prior to the pager tones going off was a rareity.

    The program allowed us to get a jump on wildland fires, extrications and structure fires that could have gotten out of hand wiotha 4 to 6 minute delay.

    Firefighters doing station stand by were required to complete drills each shift and work with the rigs and younger members above and beyond the required drills to insure the crew could do what they were called to do.

    In many cases our mutual aid response to outr paid neighbors exceeded their own response. We maintained 78 volunteers in the standby program with 10 to 16 assigned per shift. Rarely if ever could you respond from home and get on the 2nd out rig. You'd never get on the first out. That fact led many others to standby who normally wouldn't. All of a sudden being close to the station did not insure you'd make a rig.

    In our case it worked perfectly. The crews rose to the occassion and in many cases there were less beds than people interested in standing by.

    There wasn't any difference between our volunteer service and a paid service response wise or experience wise.

  12. #12
    Philip C
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    Being in Prince George's County, MD my station is staffed after the county career crew leaves (0700-1500 M-F). Many county fire departments in MD, especially those outside of DC and Baltimore, staff their stations.

    We have duty crews 1900-2300 T-Su with each member required to do one crew a week and sleep in one night a month. We also have 6 live-ins, which Brian Dunlap mentioned in his post, one of which is an engine driver. On weekend days members stop by to hang out for a while and Monday nights are either meetings or company drills, so we
    don't have assigned crews for those times.

    There are companies in this county that have a small volunteer base and have problems staffing apparatus after hours; others have had to request career ffs around the clock. Station staffing is a necessity in this county as many run 3000+ calls a year(mine averaged 2900+ since 1995).

    The key is to keep the members busy while they are there so they want to stay. Drills, apparatus checks and cleaning, house chores and training rookies are a few things that come to mind. To encourage members to come by during non-duty crew hours recreational activities must be accomodated, such as pool, ping pong, basketball, tv/vcr, video games, and internet access, to name a few.

    Hope this helps. Take care and be safe.

    ------------------
    Phil Clinard
    Laurel VFD
    Prince George's Co Sta 10
    Laurel, MD
    www.laurelvfd.org

  13. #13
    BenFire7
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Smile

    Phil,
    Thanks for that input. The recreational facilites is a great idea to keep people around the station. How many volunteers do you have, and how do you set up the shift coverage?

  14. #14
    Bob Snyder
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Lightbulb

    I think that the key to this whole issue is call volume. The higher the call volume, the more useful duty shifts become, and, as volumes become very high, they eventually become a necessity.

    Right now, I run with a 80-100 call/year company...no reason to keep people there all the time and, frankly, it wouldn't fly. People aren't going to give up personal/family time in large chunks to staff a station where a solid week (or more) might go by between dispatches. I don't blame them...I wouldn't either. Besides, because the town is small and most of our volunteers live in town, we can get trucks out of the station as the house siren stops, in many cases (within a minute of the end of the dispatch sequence).

    At one time, I ran with a company that had a combined 600-700 calls/year for fire & QRS. There, there were living quarters, duty crews on weekends, etc. The key was that people who spent time there on duty crews knew they were needed...calls came at more the two a day, on average, and the run area was much larger, making response times much longer in absence of duty crews.

    So, the question isn't so much about the "pros and cons" of duty crews, it's just a matter of deciding whether you're in a situation that makes them feasible and beneficial (or, in the extreme, necessary).

  15. #15
    Scene25
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Thumbs up

    Our department is manned 24/7/365. We have a career chief who works 9-5 Monday through Friday, and also answers the "Major Calls" on a 24/7 basis.

    We have a driver and a firefighter on duty and run 8 hour shifts. The driver recieves $20 and the firefighter recieves $10. These monies accumilate into an account that we use to purchase personal items such as TOG, PASS, Rope, Helmets, Boots, Lights, Shirts, etc.

    We do not recieve cash, but purchase orders that are signed off by the chief.

    This has worked very well in the past. The city handles the finances to keep the station manned 24/7, which equals about $33,000 a year.

    Hope this helps some...

    Take Care and Be Safe


    ------------------
    John Williams
    NRFF1/EMT
    Clairton Fire Dept

  16. #16
    bob1350
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    Ben, thanks for the reply. A little bit our dept. Our district is approx. 260 square miles with 5 stations. A two man engine co. (paid) is on duty 24/7 at all stations. EMS is provided by a private service with 3 stations. A second ambulance responds if the EMS shift captain thinks it will be needed. A second ambulance also responds to MVA's if there are more than 2 confirmed patients. We run over 4000 calls a year. 2/3 medical. Our volunteers are not required to be EMS certified. A non EMS provider should not be forced to get up in the middle of the night to go to minor medical calls. E-mail me and I'll explain a lot of this in detail.

  17. #17
    Philip C
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    BenFire7,

    My company has approximately 80-90 members on the books, of which 40-50 ride regularly. We have had a duty crew program for years. When a member is voted in, they are given a choice of which duty crew they want to join. During initial training they can't participate on other nights, but once they are a fully fleged ff they can participate as much as they want (in addition to their duty night). Take care and be safe.

    ------------------
    Phil Clinard
    Laurel VFD
    Prince George's Co Sta 10
    Laurel, MD
    www.laurelvfd.org

  18. #18
    st34ff
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Arrow

    I think that the call volume should decide for you if you should have live in vols or "normal" vols. my company doesn't have the call volume to have live in people. We had our first call in a few days for a water rescue. We run about 500 fire calls a year.

    Kyle www.chalfontfireco.8m.com

  19. #19
    Ratman
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    My department may get 40 to 50 calls a year. As a volunteer how can you respond to 500 a year? your work and family life must suffer. I believe that any department that has over 300 calls should have full time staff. Think about it. Almost a call a day. Some halls in major cities don't even see that. When do you have time to drill?

  20. #20
    Philip C
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    I agree with Ratman about being fully staffed if you run a lot of calls. I might raise that number a bit more than 300, mainly depending on how many members you have and where/what hours they work.

    Just last night during my duty crew (1900-2300) we ran 10 engine calls, including 3 mutual aid, 1 mva w/ medevac, and 2 we double pulled with an extra piece. We aren't usually that busy in such a short time period but we could NEVER handle such a workload without vollies at the station. Take care and be safe.



    ------------------
    Phil Clinard
    Laurel VFD
    Prince George's Co Sta 10
    Laurel, MD
    www.laurelvfd.org

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