I know one of the major concerns facing volunteer fire departments today is daytime staffing levels during the week when most volunteers are working there regular jobs. Some of the larger communities in our area that rely on volunteers are starting to hire part-time firefighters during the weekday to combat this shortage. However my department cannot afford to do this. Fire calls during the weekday are like a crap shoot, you just never know who is going to show up. Some calls we get only 3-4 members show up, some calls we may get 10. What bothers me the most is number one, the safety of our firefighters responding with only very minimal staffing, but secondly what kind of fire protection are we really providing with only about 5 firefighters responding, not very good protection. Sure we have mutual aid and of course they would respond to our fires. What we are in the works of doing right now with a neighboring community is further enhancing our mutual aid and staffing levels for fires is instituting an automatic mutual aid policy where both departments would be automatically dispatched to a structure fire. Yes I know this is not new, but i'm sure we can all agree that the first 5-10 minutes on the fireground are the most critical. With the new NFPA 1720 standards and 2 in/2 out laws we felt this was a must for our department and community. My question to all of you is what are your departments and communities doing to beef up daytime staffing to handle structure fires or calls that require additional staffing and equipment. I look forward to hearing your reply's.
Washington Twp. VFD
Visit us on the web at www.wtfd.net
[ 07-24-2001: Message edited by: WTFD730 ]
[ 07-25-2001: Message edited by: WTFD730 ]
The department I work for does it this way
Fire chief Paid
Secertary Paid She drives
Fire inspector Paid
Part time day ppl (Two) Paid
the part time day persons take care of all the Bs stuff Mowing the grass, truck checks, hose testing, hydrant flow testing cleaning...etc etc
plus there are two people that work for the boro crew that can leave IF IT IS A FIRE
that gives us four evertime with two more comming. The budget is about 500,000 all firefighter are paid on call with stipened standby crews on 24/7. If you can not afford to pay outright how bout everybody gets together (god forbid)and pay a crew that would run from a central location to everybodys district.
Do not forget your neighboring departments. A district where my boss runs does a box system on the box daytime you get 4 engines two trucks one rescue from 4 departments plus a engine (Safety Co) from another dept. If they upgrade to a first alarm they get 5 more engines 2 more trucks 2 rescues daytime they get about 25 to 30 ppl on the box double that on the first alarm. They run the same nightime and almost never go above a 1st alarm. They run as far away as 15 mins from their station first alarm even farther second alarm.
I know the feeling about daytime staffing. We're lucky to get 5 on a weekday call. They're aren't any employers in the district, so everybody works AT LEAST 15 minutes out of the district. If it's a long call, you can expect 2-3 more 20 minutes after the call comes in. Doesn't help on structures, and the nearest mutual aid is 15 minutes away, too. We've toyed with automatic aid, but we're new (5 years old) and other problems are more pressing (finishing the station, getting everyone gear, etc).
Automatic aid is what we'll ultimately do, though. We don't have a County Fire Department or any organization that oversees the FDs, but I'd like to get together with the departments we interact with and put together some kind of plan where everybody knows they've got help coming. We don't have a central dispatch either, so it'll be a long process.
On the new NFPA code, if your department doesn't worry about NFPA on other issues, why worry about that one?
In our company we have the public works people come to the station to answer calls during the day. And like what choad33 says we run the box system so we automaticly get more engines and ladders.
Sounds like you need a tax hike. Where I live, pretty much everybody has a "duty crew." In fact, as I write this I'm working for one right now. Here, we keep 4 people on from 7:30-4:30, 2 from 6:30-7:30 and from 4:30-5:30. Neighboring departments all do it a little bit differently with different crew sizes, etc. but we all have them. It's pretty much necessary any more. The objective of these organizations is all for the efficient protection of the community, right? We've all found that we need these crews for reasonable response times during these daytime hours. The community will support it if you ask them for the funding. I don't know how your tax structure works, butsounds like you need a little more revenue to cover some day crew guys...
Part of the problem is who you're recruiting. If all you get are "labor" type people that work in manufacturing jobs, or if you're suburban and also get office types, but that work out of district, you're shooting yourself in the foot.
Try approaching local small business owners that have their business (even if not their home) in the district. If you can recruit some of them, most can set their own hours, so they can respond int eh daytime.
And don't forget the professionals (architects, web designers, CPAs) that may work from home.
Use the approach that by helping you protect homes and businesses in the area that they do business - that they are protecting their own business as well.
We are lucky in our dept. We have 2 major factories on iur area and the ceo wrote a letter to all managers letting them know any fire dept members should be allowed to leave without question to a fire call. we have about 25 members and about 20 work for these 2 companies. If this ever changes we could be in the same boat as other dept. :D
In north Harris County, most of the VFDs run some sort of "duty crew" composed of part time employees. My dept runs a 4 man crew from 0700-1800, with staggered shifts. We will be adding a 5th person in 2002.
For a daytime structure fire, we will get around 20-25 firefighters -- not counting automatic aid. Part of the reason for this is that 22 of our members work as Firefighters or Medics with one of the many career depts in the Houston area. This means they are off 2 days out of every 3. We also have 4 Police Officers / Deputies who work night or evening shift. We even have a few members who work in our district and can leave for major fires.
If a department has daytime staffing problems, they need to try and recruit people who either work at night, or work at a job where they can leave.
We run Automatic Mutual Aid with naboring dept.on all structure fire reports. works well.
One question has not been asked yet. WTFD, you stated that you department does not have the budget for hiring part-time personnel for the daytime, but what is your departments annual budget? We have a couple of departments in my area that have budgets ranging from 50,000 to 130,000 dollars a year, and they have placed at least one duty man. Now, I understand that one person is not going to help out a great deal, but it allows for someone to run the medical calls and handle most still alarms. Other departments such as the one that I work for, have placed 24 hr. crews on. During the day, we have 5 personnel, split up between 2 stations. We run 3 out of our central station, and 2 out of one of our substations. At night, we have 3 personnel, run out of our central station. We have plans to added additional personnel over the next couple of years, and hopefully have all 3 of our stations manned during the day, with some additional personnel at night.
I'm Chief of a very small rural dept. We currently run a daytime response with 4 other depts in our county for all structure fire, MVA's, and auto alarms. I'm lucky if I can get a couple guys in an engine during the day, but if each dept gets 2 or 3 FF's and a few rigs on the road it works out well. Since most depts in our county operate on a shoestring budget, any kind of paid personel just isn't an option.