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  1. #1
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    Default Are we really volunteers?

    The volunteer fire dept. that I am on is haveing some conflict between volunteers and full time personal. Our volunteer's are expected to be on duty every third day for 12 hours and 24 on weekends an hoildays. we are also required to be at a training session every Thursday night for 3 hours. On top of this we are not aloud vacation days unless they are in concurrence with our full time jobs, we are required to have doctors excuses if we take off for being sick, and if we need to have a day off we are required to find coverage. We were woundering how your dept. worked. and if you had any suggestions that may help us.
    crazym_29@yahoo.com
    Melissa


  2. #2
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    Need more info.

    Are you compensated at all? What's you call volume, and does it include ambulance? How many people are we talking about on your department (paid and volunteer)?
    Bryan Beall
    Silver City, Oklahoma USA

  3. #3
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    We get $4.25 per run. we are fire and ambulance. and we have 6 full time, 4 part time, 26 volunteers, and 1 nurse. crazym_29@yahoo.com
    Melissa

  4. #4
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    Okay. We still need some more background.

    Is the conflict between the paid and volunteer guys because the paid guys think that the volunteers are taking away jobs? Or do the volunteers think that too much is required of them to be "volunteers"?

    Also, what's the call volume? If you're running 100 calls a year, I'd say that making the volunteers put in so much time is a little ridiculous. However, if you're running 1500 calls a years, that's a little different.

    And I never answered your question about how our department worked. 100% volunteer (18 members), about 40 calls a year, no EMS, and no one is "assigned" to be on duty, either at the station or in the district. We just don't have enough people or the call volume to jusify that. Our volunteers aren't compensated. I was on a combo department for a couple of years that paid the full-time guys time-and-a-half for callback, and the volunteers got minimum wage. The small municipal department east of us pays $35 a call for fire, and $25 a call for EMS.
    Bryan Beall
    Silver City, Oklahoma USA

  5. #5
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    I think the conflict is that they are requiring too much of the volunteers and theyare forgetting the definition of volunteer. Call volume for the dept i'd say is moderate, pay is not that great, and for what they expect from the volunteers it isn't much.

    Jes

  6. #6
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    Okay, so the problem is the volunteers think that too much is required of them to be "volunteers"? I'm still not clear on what the core issue is.

    The reason I keep asking for more background and details is because if your department is running all the time to alot of EMS calls, rescues and working fires, then you may very well NEED to staff and train as much as you do, but a "moderate" call volume is a relative term. Tulsa FD runs 25000 calls a year. We run 40 a year. What's moderate? 10000? 2000? I hope you see my point.

    Here's something else to ponder, and I'm still assuming you guys think that it's unfair that so much is required of "volunteers". Were these standards in place before you joined, or were they created after you joined? If you knew the requirements beforehand, you may not get very far. However, regardless of all the little details and whatnot, if the majority of the volunteers think that the standards are too strict, you should start with bringing it up to the Chief or your officer, however you handle such things.

    It's just hard to offer advice without knowing more about your situation. See what I mean?

    [ 07-22-2001: Message edited by: Silver City 4 ]
    Bryan Beall
    Silver City, Oklahoma USA

  7. #7
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    I would say we do about 100 to 150 calls a year. and no these rules were not in affect when we joined. crazym_29@yahoo.com
    Melissa

  8. #8
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    Default

    Now, with a call volume of 150 calls a year, that's about one call every 2 1/2 days, give or take.

    For my area of the country, having to take that much call for a volunteer fire department is very unusal, particularly with your call volume...unless buses full of children drive into snake filled ravines on a regular basis, or the nursing home catches fire every week.

    HOWEVER, it still depends on your situation a little. Your Chief may be trying to gain ISO points with staffing, or may just like to know that when something comes in, he's got X amount of people who will show. I personally would like our FD to be a little more agressive with our in-house training, although no matter how much you do, there's always something more you can improve in the fire service.

    I'm still sticking by my eariler post that you need to talk to the Chief, and the other volunteers. You know, ultimately, no one is forcing you to be on the fire department. I quit the combo department I worked on for the exact opposite reasons you guys are talking about. We had very weak leadership, SOPs that were horrible, severly undertrained volunteers, and very overworked full-timers.

    Our meetings (once a month) were basically a good place to drink coffee and smoke for an hour. We had three brush trucks, a tanker, a 75' Snorkel, two ambulances, and three engines. With only two full-timers on duty, and only 10 active volunteers (5 of whom didn't carry pagers) we could give everyone their own truck on a call if we had wanted to. We ran about 4-5 calls a day (90% EMS), so the call volume was there to keep people interested. But when the people don't carry pagers, don't know what thet're doing when they DO show up, and the white hats don't do anything about it, you get some very poor results over and over.

    I'm now a volunteer on the department near where I grew up, and have started the long process of getting hired full-time on one of the Tulsa metro departments. Deciding to quit the small department I was on took me over a year, but the internal politcs and constant callbacks and low pay were having a negative effect on my personnel life. I decided I'd rather volunteer for my little hometown department than get paid in the environment I was in.

    Sorry I went off on that tangent, but I know what it's like to work on a small combo department. You need your volunteers to back you up all the time, and you need them to know what they're doing. I worked for 2 1/2 years in an environment that was very, very unsafe because the volunteers weren't given any training, weren't required to attend meetings, and would respond when they felt like it.

    I sympathize with you if you think it's unfair to have to do so much, and it may be too much for your department. But I also sympathize with the full-time who need the volunteers to back them up.

    [ 07-27-2001: Message edited by: Silver City 4 ]
    Bryan Beall
    Silver City, Oklahoma USA

  9. #9
    Forum Member CAPN22's Avatar
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    Default

    I read it somewhere else in a forum and it put it all in a nutshell.

    We volunteered to be on the Fire Dept.

    All the rest is maniditory.

  10. #10
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    Hello,

    Question, are you the volunteer or the career guy? If, you are the volunteer, it sounds like WAY too much pressure is being placed on you. I can understand the training aspect, but if you are REQUIRED as a vollie to have a doctors note or have to request vacation time.....MAN, that is way to much to expect from an individual who is doing it for free.

    When I use to vollie, there was mandatory trainings and a percentage or runs you had to make to be considered "active", but you did not need notes for vacation time or sick time.

  11. #11
    Forum Member firefighter26's Avatar
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    I am a Volunteer Firefighter... Have been for almost 4 years.

    Here is one of the many things I have learned..... Once you sign the paper, your a Volun-told firefighter.

    I heard someone else use this term, and I think it fits so well. Ya, we volunteer, but we are always told what to do, when to do it, and how to do it. I guess that comes with the job. I have learned to accept it. Then again, we only run 50-60 calls a year and are not staffed full time or required to be at the hall for duty shifts. However, we make sure we don't all take our holidays at the same time.

    If you have paid day guys, let them run the first truck out or ambulance. They should be able to do a EHS call on their own. When a non-ehs call comes in, tone everyone out to play. Just a thought, which is what you asked for, right?

    Good Luck.
    "No one ever called the Fire Department for doing something smart..."

  12. #12
    RJE
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    Default

    I sypathize with the "volun-told" viewpoint - but it still seems a little excessive to me.

    When I was an active volunteer, we had mandatory training one night a week (3 hours). We were also required to make 70% of calls for a month. If you didn't make 70% for 3 months running, you got put on probation. Station Captains appreciated it if you told them when you'd be out of town, but they wouldn't tell you you couldn't take a vacation.

    For perspective, we ran >600 calls a year, about 2/3 medical (but not ambulance - we packaged, but didn't transport) or MVA. We ran about 40 members running 3 engines (+ 2 reserves) 2 rescue squads (light rescue/med), 2 brush trucks, a tanker and a quint from 3 stations.

    With about 2 calls a day, we kept pretty busy, but at the same time we sometimes went 3 or 4 days w/o a call. We also had problems with either (1) guys not getting up for B/S med calls in the middle of the night or (2) no one showing up for calls in the middle of the day because everyone was at work. If it got real bad, it got discussed by the chief at the next training.

  13. #13
    Forum Member firefighter26's Avatar
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    Me again...

    The term "Volun-told" Firefighter was used by a member of another department used when they started setting very strict regulations for everything from attendance to scheduling vacations a year ahead of time.

    We don't have and problems with members not attending BS calls. However, daytime calls are the worst. Most of our members work out of distict because we are a rural fire department. Not really much you can do about that. They have to work. Then again, we do not get many calls during the day for the same reason.
    "No one ever called the Fire Department for doing something smart..."

  14. #14
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    PLEASE SEE MY COMMENTS UNDER VOLUNTEER COMPENSATION

  15. #15
    Forum Member firefighter26's Avatar
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    Good call, Keith. I am right with you on that one.

    Gone are the days of riding tail boards and running blindly into a fire. Firefighters and fire departments, small city or thriving metropolitan, are there to do a job. When my pagers goes, it is time to do the job I signed on to do. When training comes up, I owe it not only to the public, but to myself and my fellow firefighters, to take advantage of it.
    "No one ever called the Fire Department for doing something smart..."

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