1. #1
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post Volunteer vs. Career Fire Fighters

    I started this topic to give an approiate area for those that wish to debate this issue.
    This is my first post, but after reading all the fights about who is the best, who is a wanna be and so on, I felt the need to say my peace.
    I am a volunteer, matter of fact chief of the department. Here's the way I see the two sides of the issue. Starting with caree guys:

    1. You are paid to do a job that is expected of you. Can you point out anywhere in your job description where it says down play volunteers? Are we that bad? Do we not posses the same fire fighting education? Are we not indeed the majority of the fire fighting force? For as long as I have been in the fire service, I have not "stole" any one's job. For the record, I pulled my application for full time fire fighting. And before you think it is because I cant handle pressure and stressful situations, thats not even the reason.
    And you hate "hooples". When you look in the mirror you will see some one that is hated by hooples. Hooples hate those that hate them. You win nothing, you loose nothing, I call it a draw, so dont keep going.
    Now for the volunteers:
    Stop badgering the career guys. They have chosen a very rewarding career. They don't care for us much, but that will be life and it must go on.Honestly, you can put 42 lights and 16 radios in your POV, however when you show up on the fire scene you must be professional.
    As a volunteer I do not belong to a union, nor do I have the desire to join one. If they are your cup of tea, go for it.
    I am sick and tired as I am sure many more are about all this crap. We both are in the same business. If a career department ever helps me, you bet I'll be the first to thank them. If a volunteer department helps a full time department why not extend the same courtesy? The life saved may just be yours by a voluteer or career guy.
    Career guys my hat is off to you!!
    Volunteer guys my hat is off to you as well!!

  2. #2
    Firehouse.com Guest


    Well said Chief! To get respect, you must first give it.

    Take care, stay safe, & stay low!

    Lt. Spinney

  3. #3
    Firehouse.com Guest


    I can not agree more with what you said in regards to fairness to all in a mixed department. I have been a volunteer now for more then a year and i love it. I love the service to the community, the training, the comradship, everything. We have a few paid fire fighters and the rest of us are all volunteers. All of our paid FF's have been volunteers also, so we have a really good understanding and a good esprit de corps if you will among our department. I do not have any plans to go paid/career, i am just enjoying the service to others and the fellowship of my department. I have seen, within some of the surrounding paid departments, some differences/tension within their ranks of paid and volunteer. I do think that in the end though, regardless of who is what, we are all there on scene to do the same basic job, help and serve others in their time of need. We all must have our professionalism and remember who we are there for in the first place. Enough said.


  4. #4
    Deputy Dog Dashwood
    Firehouse.com Guest


    Well said Iam a paid on call deputy chief Iam 24 years old and been in the volunteer service for 8 years, I love what I in our hall Its a hobbie Iam there because I want to be there not cause I have to I will be going to school soon to become a fisheries officer I know I will be able to do two things I love! Fight fire and do what i want out of life.
    I have applied for full time positions and never realy wasn't to concerned that Iam not a full time fire fighter. It would be nice any way, But I love Being a vollie!!
    Volunteer fire fighters are unpaid pro

  5. #5
    Firehouse.com Guest


    It's all about bad attitudes. These debates are so meaningless. It's sad to see adults carry on like this. Bashing each other all the time? Does it help put out fires?

    Don't participate in it. It only fans the flames.

    Stay Safe

  6. #6
    Firehouse.com Guest


    Well put Chief. There is no logical reason for Firefighters Paid or Volunteer to fight with one another. We all have the same job to do. The only difference is some Firefighters are paid and some aren't.
    I am a Lieutenant with a Volunteer Fire Co. and we should try our best to work together without ripping each other apart.
    I know a few who are Paid Firefighters and they treat me with a great deal of respect. I treat them with a great deal of respect in return.
    I think its time we stop fighting and start trying to get a long. If nothing else show some common courtesy toward on another. A little common courtesy goes a long way.
    Remember we are all dependent on each other.
    Just my two cents

  7. #7
    Brian Dunlap
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Thumbs up


    There is absolutely no diffrence between a Career Firefighter and a Volunteer Firefighter. Believe me The Fire personaly does not care whether or not you get a pay check -- It burns just as Hot and furious in New York City as it Does in A Rual Town with an All Volunteer Department. Those taht have been lucky enough to be accepted as career firefighters deserve to be where they are. Those that have chosen to be Volunteers deserve to be where they are. It's all about Protection from Fire --- Yeah there are some career guys out there that tink volunteers are absolute pond scum Why ? Who knows and personaly who cares. I Saw those attitudes in the department I came from before joining the one I'm with...Volunteers there were not even allowed to enter the lounge area of the station because the Career Guys Say "This is a Union House; No Vollies allowed" let alone allowed to ride the trucks...Vollies there had to and still do have to take thier POV's to the calls because "These Trucks are Union Trucks" But thats all water under the bridge to me now --- I Served as a Per-Diem Firefighter with a Department for about 5 years -, In That capacity I collected a Salary and worked regular tours along side the Normal Career Staff I just was not entitled to the benifit package...That department had a strong volunteer force also until they went totaly paid about 2 years ago and that Career and Volunteer Staff worked well together for the most part. Will there continue to be rivalries between career and volunteers ? Yeah I'm afraid So because there are Ego's Out there that just can't be put to rest --- All I can Say is When we are called to duty whether we're Paid Guys or Vollies there is a War to be won and we have to fight it to the best of our ability.

    Whether you get paid to fight fire or give up your time to fight fire we are all equals --- So to All; Be Careful and Be Safe

  8. #8
    Firehouse.com Guest


    Well said, Chief.

    Our department is first due on a 2nd alarm for two neighboring career departments and we get along fine with them (with the possible exception of a few union hard-heads).

    However, the president of a large city fire union in our county, is continually writing letters to the newspaper, bashing volunteers in small communities, who could never afford paid staffs; in a strictly self-serving manner.

    A lot of paid firefighters began their careers in firefighting as volunteers and many have remained active volunteers in their communities.

    I believe that the problem, on both sides of this controversy, lies with a very small minority of individuals, who for whatever reason, feel a need to lash out at others.

    Peaceful co-existence is the key here.

    The Fire Service is much better served being united rather than divided.

    Stay safe,


    Note: I am a retired Police Sergeant/former PBA president. So, I can speak from the experience of being on both sides of the paid/volunteer fence.

  9. #9
    Firehouse.com Guest


    I am a volunteer in a combination department, and I must say that I really have never feel victim to the so called vol/paid war. I've found in my department as well as career FF's I've meet with other department accept you for your abilities as a firefighter. A few members of my department have trouble playing well with others but they are that lazy group that will never be happy.
    We never really have a problem with a volunteer riding on the career rig, or entering the career lounge. For the most part I feel we work very well together!
    I have several friends in my own as well as other career department and it has never caused an issue. Also can not complain about the career firefighters I have meet in other areas of the country.
    I think that if you come across professionally and courteous others will be the same.

  10. #10
    Firehouse.com Guest


    Very interesting. I am so thrilled to see that this issue can be discussed without all the finger pointing and name calling. I will be honest, my involvement with career guys so far has been positive, with the exception of a few. And those that "dont like me", have never met me. I hear all the time "You are the Chief of ******* VFD, my department dont like you. How I wonder, the fact being none of that dept has never met me. It's all because I am volunteer. But, as I stated before, I respect the career guys. After all they are making a living that I unargueably belive that is not enough pay. But, as a whole, I should think that they are a proud group. As far as union halls and union rigs, if I was treated that way I would have unioned my *** to the house! It is not no where near impossible to volunteer with another department, guaranteed! Once again, we are all in the same business, safety of life and property. I cast no stones and want no stones cast at me.

  11. #11
    Firehouse.com Guest


    189... That's about the best way I've ever heard or seen this touchy topic dealt with. Also, I'd have to completely agree with you on it.

    Brian Dunlap... That's one department that I definitely would have vollied my ***** right out of. I'm a card carrying Teamster (shop steward as a matter of fact) and I'll be damned the day anybody in my shop gives a nonunion guy grief just for not being a Teamster. That type of attitude is not only unprofessional (in ANY career) but it's also self-defeating. What kind of an image does that project of the union as a whole? None that I want. My guys get jobs based on their performance and the quality of their work and I wholeheartedly believe that only this type of an image serves to promote unions in ANY field. First off, these career guys that have that attitude should remember that you (and all the other volleys) are residents of the town that have votes and can speak at council meetings etc. So why **** off a bunch of people that could hurt you when you can use some positive public support (i.e., staffing increases, budget reviews, etc.). Sorry if I got a bit long winded there but, it just rubs me the wrong way when I hear crap like that. Be safe.

  12. #12
    Brian Dunlap
    Firehouse.com Guest



    I agree with you 110 % Thats one of the main reasons I'm No Longer with that department --- The Other Reason is that we as Vollies only got dispatched when there was a report of a structure fire or vehicle extrication --- All the other calls were handled by the career guys ... Vollies maybe got 3 or 4 responses a month maybe a bit more but not enough to stay intrested

  13. #13
    Firehouse.com Guest


    I am very lick to fight fire where I do. When we respond on major fires there will be about 6 volunteer depts. and the the County Seat Department wich is full time (career). When we are on scene there are no Career firefighters no Vollies we are just fire Fighters with one task. To put out the fire. We appreciate each other and it seems to keep things working smooth

  14. #14
    Firehouse.com Guest


    very well put cheif thats kinda the problem we are going thru right now i am a member on a paid on call / full time department right now and the union thinks we arent worth anything for the most part but what they dont understand is that with out us our department couldnt survive my father is the cheif here full time but he isnt in the union so he knows what going on but i do want to say very well put cheif .

    matt FF/EMT-I Town of Beloit Fire Dept

  15. #15
    Firehouse.com Guest


    I feel very proud to be a member of the fire service. I got my start in the fire service 15 years ago as a volunteer firefighter for the small community I lived in. After two years with the volunteer fire department and getting my feet wet in the fire service, I knew then that this is what I truly wanted to do for a living. So I applied for and took the civil service exam for the city fire department close to where I lived. I feel extremely fortunate to be one of the lucky ones and was hired by that career department 13 years ago. After 13 great years I feel fortunate to make a good living and have good benifits for myself and my family. Oh yea....I did not forget where my roots came from and where I got my start in the fire service, that small volunteer fire department, I'm still with them after 15 years and serve today as there Asst. Fire Chief. As you can see I have nothing but upmost respect for all firefighters no matter if there career or volunteer, to me a firefighter is a firefighter no matter what. I get so embaressed to see firefighters take digs at each other based on if there career or volunteer. Those kinda guys have no place in the fire service.

  16. #16
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Thumbs up

    I do both i am very proud to be paid/vol. but if anyone said i had to stop volly because i am paid i quit and flipp burgers I know where I came From.

  17. #17
    Firehouse.com Guest


    I agree with what you said chief it seems very silly that we can not get along after all we you never know who might pull you out if you ever get in trouble. The area I am from is all vollie except the small city in the center The career guys provide the Als for the county and also do a lot of EMT training. they are a big asset. But the only problem we have is the surrounding areas are very rural and if one of the vollies gets a job with the city they have to quit the vollies per the IAFF, That hurts when you already have limited manpower and you lose some of the more dedicated ones.The areas that are vollie could never support paid depts they can barely support vollie depts.We are in hopes that in the future maybe the decision to not let the city guys volunteer might be changed .

    Put The Wet Stuff on The Red Stuff

  18. #18
    Firehouse.com Guest


    I think everyone here deserves a well put!!!
    It's nice to see an adult disscussion on this topic with out people getting defensive. I am career as well as vollie. Just as the majority of people I started as a vollie, fell in love with the job!
    Just like anywhere with anything, there are good and bad career and good and bad vollies. There are career guys that I work with that I would trade for a vollie any day!
    The honest part is that when I am getting paid to do the job it is not as rewarding as when I am sitting at home and drop what ever I am doing to go on a call.
    The volunteer dept. I belong to, after a call the Chief goes out of his way to thank the guys or gals for showing up! When was the last time a career guy or gal got that?
    I have the upmost respect for Volunteers and with out them we would have a failing fire service. Same goes for EMS.

  19. #19
    Firehouse.com Guest


    THANK YOU 189!!
    God I was getting so tired of this us vs. them bull. We have only one area Career department in my area. We have a great working relationship with them. Was this always the case? No. Was it beacuse they were paid and we were not? No. It was because one individual looked down his nose at volunteers. Did we let that tarnish our relationship forever? HELL NO! These problems seem to most often be personal ones. On both sides of the street boys take them for just that, personal issues, not a call to war. We can all learn from each other. 189 has shown us here that even when we agree to disagree we can do so in a very civil manner. Ain't it great!

    I shall fear no evil, for I am a Firefighter

    [This message has been edited by Chiefkeo (edited 05-02-2001).]

  20. #20
    Firehouse.com Guest



    I have debated on posting a reply on this subject up until now.

    Career and volunteer firefighter's are not the same. Now everyone settle down for a second and let me finish. Just so you know, fire is going to kick your butt as well as mine. And like someone posted, it doesn't know the difference.

    As a career firefighter, this is my choosen profession. I don't do it as a hobby, this job puts food on my table. I have to live up to higher standards (training, appearance, response time, etc..)or I can lose my job. Also, if I get mad at the administration for doing something stupid, I just can't pick up my toys and go home.

    As a volunteers firefighter, this is your choosen hobby. Kind of like fishing, skating, rock climbing, etc.... This is not to say that you FD doesn't have high standards but if you do something stupid, what is the worst that can happen? A suspension, a slap on the wrist? Volunteer fire companies need members so the punishment won't be too serve. Also, if you get mad at the administration (i.e. mad over not being able to have a flashing light, radio, etc... as I have seen posted) you can pack up your toys and split. You could even go down the road and join another volunteer company. Is this true or not? From what I have seen posted in these forums, it is apparently so.

    Then you now have, thanks to the goverment, a new document that has been produced to even divide the career firefighters from the volunteers. These new documents are "NFPA 1710 and 1720". Now, standby and calm down. Some of you are saying that these don't apply to you because you are not an NFPA state. Or that these documents are only a "guideline" This is all true, but what if something happens that causes an injury or death, what then? Then it will hurt further if it can be proven that these departments who claim there are in a "non-NFPA states" have used "NFPA 1500" to their advantage to buy new gear. Understand where I am coming from?

    And one last thing for the gentlemen who reponded that he would quit his paid job if they ever said that he couldn't volunteer. Are you nuts????? I don't have a problem if a career guy wants to vollie in an ALL vollie town, for the record. But to give up a job you love to do and get paid for, just to volunteer and go flip burgers. Trust me, it is much better to get paid top "ride the rides" than it was not to.

  21. #21
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Thumbs down

    This is not meant to be a Vollie vs; Career response. I know plenty of both that are total idiots. Having said that;


    I debated long and hard on replying to your post.

    I read it probably 3-4 times and still don't know what you are trying to say, other than slight the vollies.

    In response to your post;

    "Your held to a higher standard because you are a career firefighter."

    Maybe by your employer, but WE (career & vollies) are ALL held to the smae standards when it comes to training, appearance and performance; this includes during training, at the incident scene, public engagements, ect.

    " As volunteers, this is our chosen HOBBY. "

    That's why I (and many other vollies) spend 50+ hours a week involved in training other vollies and career personnel, attending dept related meetings, performing PR events, running NUMEROUS emergencies, performing a multitude of admin functions and a non ending list of other activities.

    "Kind of like fishing, skating or rock climbing."

    With the exposures involved with the job, I don't see how ANYONE could equate Emergency Services with these types of hobbies.

    "If I do something stupid, what is the worst that could happen. A slap on the wrist."

    Well depending on what that stupid act was, intentional or unintentional, I could be subjected to the following;

    1. Suspension of 3 days to 1 year
    2. Expelled from the dept.
    3. Charged in criminal/civil court, and
    this happens accross the nation on a
    daily basis to both career & volly.

    So I don't think that's a slap on the wrist.

    "If I get mad with the Admin of my dept, I can take my toys and leave."

    Yea that's the childish response that I know happens. If someone takes that 'tude, then they weren't in the bus for the right reason and good riddens.

    I have disagreed with Admin, I've been the Dep Chief of my Combo dept for over 10 years, served as Fire Chief for 3 and as a Fire Line Officer for 17 years. When the time comes when we do disagree, I voice my opinion and we ALL work to resolve the issue. Most times Admin will thoroughly explain their decision and that will resolve the issue 99% of the time.

    Yes, we ALL need to adapt to the NFPA and OSHA standards. If we don't and the s*** hits the fan, then heads will roll.

    Like I mentioned earlier, there are members out there that DO NOT need to be in the business WE are in. This includes both Career and Volunteer.

    We are ALL PROFESSIONALS and we need to conduct all aspects of our business in that manner.

    As a well repsected Fire Chief stated;

    "To make an error is human,
    To worry about those errors is compassion,
    To do something about those errors is
    Professionalism. "


    [This message has been edited by res7cue (edited 05-18-2001).]

  22. #22
    Firehouse.com Guest


    For those of you who volunteer and have a problem with paid guys calling vollies "Job Stealers"........Lets say you are a welder, or a mechanic. The tones go off, you leave work. You come back an hour later, the boss has your stuff packed up, and he says "See ya.....This guy is going to do your job for free."

    Ponder that one for a few minutes.

    "Loyalty above all else, except honor."

  23. #23
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Thumbs down

    [QUOTE]Originally posted by Army Truck Company: For those of you who volunteer and have a problem with paid guys calling vollies "Job Stealers"

    Yeah...I have a problem with it.

    Number 1: Small communities could never afford career departments, especially now under the NFPA 1710.

    Number 2: Speaking of "Job Stealers," every career firehouse parking area is full of painter's, roofer's, carpenter's, electrician's, plumber's, etc. trucks,
    to name a few.

    Are they not "Job Stealers?"

    Are they Union workers??

    I highly doubt it.

    People like you do nothing positive; you only fuel the animosity between the career and volunteer services.

    Ponder that!!

  24. #24
    Firehouse.com Guest


    Guys, I think the best thing we can do as professionals is let this topic die before we have 20 pages of fighting. This debate could last years.

    Just my 2 cents.

  25. #25
    Brian Dunlap
    Firehouse.com Guest


    Yeah we should put a rest to this thing before it turns into a Brawl..We are all PROFESSIONALS just because one volunteers and the other collects a salary shouldn't ever matter. Most Towns and small cities simply can't afford a career department and rely on Volunteer Organizations to save tax-payers money and with some communities the call volume just could not warrant a career department. -- Here's how I break this whole thing down ...One carries a fire company ID Card and has a Flashing Light on his/her pov and the other carries an I.A.F.F. Card and Reports to his/her Fire Station for Duty just as I report to my Job as a Tractor Trailer Dispatch Supervisor -- A Fire is reported @ 123 Main Street in the City of "Anytown" who responds thier equipment With the Career Staff -- Now because of the large amount of fire the on scene chief requests help... "Sometown" Fire Company is then summoned with a group of Volunteers that may be Plumbers, Roofers, Office Workers, ect... And contrary to popular belief they have the same training as the guys and girls on the career department --- In the Long Run the Fire gets extinguished, hopefully the property gets saved and no lives lost...Why ? because The Career Firefighters and the Volunteers worked together as they should 100 % of the time. I know that there were career departments long before the inception of the I.A.F.F. and probably more Volunteer Companies in that time....Volunteers weren't considered "Scabs" Then.....So what has changed ? Somebody got the bright idea that anyone who Volunteers as a firefighter is stealing the jobs from those that chose it as a profession and passed it on like a bad plague. On the Reverse Side a Career Firefighter is asked by a friend to come over on his days off and help with some roofing so that he can save a few bucks by not having to hire a "Professional Roofer" where does this whole thing leave us ? Absolutely no where because this whole Vollie vs. Career Issue is a double standard which really can not be won by either side. I have the Highest amount of Respect for Career Firefighters --- Have them in my own Community in 4 out of 6 Fire Stations during the day. The Department I belong to is 100 % Volunteer 100 % of the time. We work with these Career Firefighters when Called Upon and get along rather well I might Add. I can Understand Some of the Career Personnel Gripes and Complaints and Yet Others seem to make no sense what so ever...The Same thing goes for the Volunteers as well -- Neither Group is Perfect and both should remember that the only separation between the two is the pay check which I've Stated in numerous posts before The Fire Really doesn't Care About. --- This post has made some great points and some really off the wall ones which is to be expected but I personally Feel that No matter your Title { Career or Volunteer } we're still PROFESSIONALS !

    Peace to All


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