We have an essentially identical situation to yours: 300+ calls a year, about 40% or so EMS ( we only run on priority 1 and 2's, as well as whenever the ambulance is mutual aided, or for forced entry/manpower requests.); separate Ambulance corps that used to be part of the FD; in a small-med village/bedroom community.
Years ago, we decided to hire a weekday paid person. The route we took was to go with an administrator/laborer position. EMT-B is required, as is ICS training. This person is qualified to drive all apparatus, and is an exterior firefighter. (I'll explain why in a second) Job duties include: station maintenance, apparatus weekly checks, and maintenance, administrative duties, etc. He drives the first out apparatus, and may function as the IC if required. Fill in coverage is provided by a part time guy, and/or by a regular dept member if needed. They can also get overtime by responding after hours to working fires or other major incidents.
Basically, we needed someone to help with the day to day running of the department, as the burden was getting excessive for the all volunteer officers. We also wanted to ensure a driver for day time calls, and an EMT for all the EMS we run. The village budget is limited, and we are very close to a large career department and several large combos- ALL of whom get far more action than we do, and PAY better than we can afford. Therefore, we chose not to make it a civil service position, which is why the exterior only. We did end up upgrading the position to Firefighter, only to lose him to a larger, busier and better paying dept... In the end , we went back to the admin/laborer position. This is common in our area, as several volunteer depts do this.
Interestingly, our original paid guy ended up joining us as a volunteer- eventually rising to asst chief!
As others have stated: The key is respect. Clearly defining the role they will fill. Occasionally reminding the volunteers the paid guy is NOT there to clean up after us, helps smooth things over.
It's worked out well. All the stuff gets done in a timely fashion. The firehouse is always in tip top shape; truck checks are done, and deficiencies addressed immediately; maintenance is sceduled and co-ordinated, errands run. rigs get sent out for work, without a major hassle trying to find somebody available to drive it there, etc etc etc. It also means fewer multiple tone-outs during the day ( which always impress the citizens...), and a quick response to daytime calls.
The night before last, 11/6/2011, we started a second watch. Not 24 hours, but from 1630 thru 0100 five days a week. It's what we could afford, with the current 'fire dues' collection system/rates. During the time frame most of our calls occur historically (0600-0100).
The cost to the public doesn't increase, but we're able to compensate for what is amounting to a dwindling volunteer base. EMS calls are 3 to 1, with the overall call volume increasing.
The big issue is, we're competing for time. The time of the individual that has full days already. Still have 32 on the roster, young/new, older/experienced. It's just tougher to fit it all in a day.
We'll see how the calendar fills out over time. In the past year, we've opened our ranks to include qualified people from other departments and towns to stand the watch. At first I was anxious about 'Hired Guns', but over time, found that the level of experience, and input from other resources works nicely....puts some fresh energy in play.
The rate we pay, provides second job stability for our people that have an investment in the organization, and reliability to the citizens. Most of our shift workers are full time at other area departments. The method has its critics, but my sights are set high. Looking at the long term with overall strategy of the department improving.
Still underway... I've got 5 days covered with two FF/ EMT's from 0700-0100, 2 days (Fri/ Sat) 0700-1600. All augmented by additional Volunteer help for calls they can make, usually complicated, multi-apparatus calls. We've purchased and are taking delivery of a second ambulance, EMS calls are up, and we're running into more and more simultaneous callouts. People in town like the service, They're getting what they expect. We're handling everything that gets thrown at us, and I've got people coming in the door wanting to Volunteer. I've got to say, the staffing routine has certainly helped a bunch during times of lean response when traditional volunteers are at work, or too busy otherwise. It has helped aleve some situations that would otherwise be dangerous.
A few of the old line Volunteers have retired, making a need for replacements. Some fresh from High School boys have signed on, they're in training.
I've got a year and a half before I retire, get the pension. Telling myself everyday, so I do it....I'll check in later.
Stepped up the bar again. Staffing 7 days a week, 0700-0100 hrs. Bought a second squad to keep up with increasing EMS callouts. Next challenge is to shift from BLS service to 24/7 ALS EMS. Working on convincing the City Council on alternative funding options, applications. Some source is beginning to step up from county funds, but is still a ways off to make a dent.
Wow chief, good for you. While I used to think 100% volunteer is the way to go, if you are able to get the funding for staffing, than absolutely go for it. even if it's just 2 guys to staff the ambulance and jump on the fire truck when a call comes in. If you can get 24/7/365, even better. As a volunteer, it's great having the paid crew handle the ambulance calls at 3am, and only come down for the fire calls or 2nd calls.
The biggest issues I would see is pushing for ALS when it's such a low call volume. If you are only doing 300 calls a year, that means less than 1 EMS call a day, and only 1/4 calls where ALS is dispatched (and typically only 2 in 10 calls is of the ALS nature). Has your call volumes changed? have the call volumes for fire calls increased as well?
If needed, hire a fire marshal and fire inspector. they can handle all your commercial inspections, and even be contracted for neighboring departments, and if a fire call comes in while they are working (mon-frid, 9 to 5), you have either an additional FF or an officer going to the scene if a command car.
Also, I checked out your website, and it gives these as your staffing numbers:
I thought you had 2 paid guys on as well?
either way, it looks like you are definitely taking steps in the right direction. good job!!!
Thanks for the comments Heavy. Our call volume is increasing each year. 2012 brought in over 600 total, with 86% being EMS calls. 10 -12% of those work out to be ALS interventions.
While looking close at funding to take the mid watch load off of true volunteers i.e. the 0300hrs social medicine calls that come in on a tuesday, funding options are better with an ALS billing/ income ratio. That is, projections show a higher percentage of income per call with ALS billing where warranted, and can help fund the additional 12 manhours per day. Plenty of argument either way.
I can really justify a full time Chief's position, what with the amount of hours I put in each week. Again, a funding hump that takes finesse and time to get my council over, when they're used to 'the way it's been forever'.
But, I can say, it will be anothers challenge to get them a little further along. At the end of 2013, I will be retiring from the fire service. Still have to work at my 'regular' career, but I'll be handing the reigns to this organization over. After 25 years, plus two years of my Navy time, I'll take the state pension and put it on a bike payment.
The replacement will be chosen later this year, but I'm working to get a person that can take this and move it down the road some more. find some things I haven't done, and make it happen.
I have loved this avocation. Have seen, and been a part of some of the most profound moments in mine, and many others lives.
I'm sure I'll check in again before I call it a day.
P.S. I updated the dept. profile awhile back. Re-submiitted it. Thanks for the heads up.
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OK, my soapbox is at hand.... I am Chief of a small combination department. We train annually to NFPA driver/ operator specs. drill regularly on apparatus control, setup and operations.
On March 15, 2012, I was driving a 4000 gallon tanker, automatic aid, to a working structure fire. Interior crews were operating, a truck co. had just been ordered to connect tank water to the operating engine. No water supply was on scene, or in the area. I was to be the first water in. Radio traffic was cranking up.
While traveling on a four lane, with center turn lane highway, turning left onto a two lane county roadway, The tanker I was driving rolled over onto its right side. The top of the tank, AND CAB slammed into a tree that has probably been there for a hundred years. You can imagine my thoughts and words as I was going over, and immediately after the loudest crash I've ever heard in my life. I was wearing a lap belt, was able to self extricate, had minor injuries.
The truck however, is currently being used as a training aid at a local department, and will likely be on display at a state fire conference later this year... I just keep smiling and preach my newest mission, to advocate "DONT LET THIS HAPPEN TO YOU!"
Many factors went into this accident. The truck had a GVWR of 50,000 lbs. I've weighed it loaded in the past at just under 57,000 lbs. It was a 'converted' truck, several years past to be put into its most recent use. However, there is not one piece of apparatus in my bays that I walk out of the duty office and it's lying on its side. They don't tip over standing still, I was going too fast!
The sequence of events involved in the accident, prove on the state troopers report to be a little different than what I believed was happening at the time. That is, as I down shifted to make the turn, approx. 78 feet of skid marks were layed on the highway before entering the turn. As the turn evolved, skid marks were put down throughout the evolution.
Bottom line, it happens real fast.
I lived! Many others don't!
I'm thankful I was alone, it didn't happen to anyone else, and that, thank goodness, no civilians were injured.
Points to remember:
*Get away from using overweight, converted apparatus (Insist on NFPA/ DOT compliance)
*Wear your seatbelts
*Do whatever it takes, to take a breath, think clearly; don't let the adrenaline take over. i.e. Situational awareness.
Its simple boys and girls.... this could happen to anyone under a stack of conditions, watch out.
In perspective, the following Saturday was St. Patrick’s Day... I got to play catch with my grandson. Another foot to the right a few days before...It would have been my funeral day.
At the end of November this year, I’ll be retiring from this great avocation after 27 years of service. If anything, I’d like to leave a legacy of great concern for my Brothers and Sisters in the Fire service. If they can read this, and it keeps them safe in the future, It isn’t for naught.
Chief Frank S. Rizzio Jr.
Pea Ridge Fire Department
Pea Ridge Arkansas
One more Boys... 26 days until retirement. The budgets working, funding is up for the future. November 1 2013, we started 24/7 staffing! Same 2 person model we've been building but a good start 24 hours a day. The road is long.... Good Luck!
[QUOTE=FSRIZZIO;1389154]One more Boys... 26 days until retirement. The budgets working, funding is up for the future. November 1 2013, we started 24/7 staffing! Same 2 person model we've been building but a good start 24 hours a day. The road is long.... Good Luck!