1. #1
    Junior Member

    Join Date
    Sep 2000
    Media, PA, USA

    Default Request help on volunteer duty crew program.

    My department is currently formulating a duty crew program to provide in station staffing for the first out piece of apparatus (at least). We currently have 20-30 "active" members and this crew would require 4 to be on station. The thrust of the program is going to be some type of duty night, like 7pm to 6am. There would then be smaller day shifts (like 4hrs a piece or so).

    What I'm looking for is what your department has done - what has worked and what hasn't. How can you "sell" this idea of in station staffing to the old-schoolers who are used to home response (even though they seem not to respond from home much!)? What kinds of things can you do to keep your crews busy while in station (we run about 600-700 calls a year).

    Much thanks in advance.

  2. #2
    Junior Member

    Join Date
    May 1999
    Bel Air, MD


    I wish you luck in setting this up. My department has been researching this for some time. We do not yet have a full crew on duty, but, for some time we have had officer & driver duty times.

    Every night we have a engine/truck driver on duty from 2300 - 0500 hrs. He is responsible for all single engine runs. This allows the other drivers to not have to respond for those type of calls. For the most part we have a different driver each night.

    We also have officer duty. Every Sunday from 0600 - 1800 there is a Lt or Captain and a chief officer on duty - in the station. We have 6 Lts, 3 Capts, and 4 chief officers. This allows the junior officers to only have to be available every 8th Sunday - most of them need this due to the fact they are answering an average of 700 fire calls a year, w/ some over 1,300 a year.

    We are looking to expand these set-ups and to include firefighters in a duty program. Due to our call volume and the fact that the calls will only increase we know we need to come up with something to stay all-volunteer.

    I don't know if you have any ambulances in your station but this also puts a dent into a fire crew. We have 3 ambos in our station that run approx 4,500 calls a year. If there is not an ambo crew on duty the firefighters (which are also EMTs) have to drive or be the provider on that unit. Well there goes the firefighter crew. This happens day & night. Basically, we have to take care of getting ambo crews before we can get the firefighting crew idea going. This is also on-going.

    My only recommendation to you is that if you can't get the 4-man crew thru try to get partial crews. I am sure your area will continue to grow as will your call volume. I am familiar with your area (I am about 1 1/4 hr south of you on Rt.1) and you will continue to grow as a Philly suburb. You are making a wise decision getting this started now, even though there may be resistance now.

  3. #3
    Senior Member
    Dalmatian90's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2000


    For 700 calls a year, why staff the station? Bsnyd kinda answered that question, but I still question it.

    You have to respectful of people's time. Duty crews are fine, and if they want to hang out at the station 'cause their young, enthusiastic, and don't have anything better to do that's ok. (Heck, I do that after dark on most Sunday evenings...) But I can't see many people with a life outside of the fire station wanting to spend a couple nights a week at the station just to catch two runs. They could be on a duty crew that responds from home if you want to not bother the other people for "nuisance" calls. And they still get to spend time with their significant other & kids or working on their non-fire service hobby.

    I can see it more in some of the Maryland areas that are running huge call volumes from volunteer houses -- at least your time is spent running or probably gonna get a run, not 11 1/2 hours in the station to get a single fifeteen minute alarm call.

  4. #4

    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    League City Texas


    We currently staff a Duty officer for 12hr shift weekly though Mon-fri daytime we get vacanices. Our Line officers are required to run 2-3 shifts a month plus ex-line officers and FF's that have taken the Duty Officer training are allowed to run shifts. This program as been in place for several years and has helped in numerous areas. The primary reason is to reduce the volunteers time at the call by getting an Command officer on scene as quick as possible. This allows us to either return units quickly or keep them from leaving the stations all together for the false calls. Plus for the real calls you get the obvious size and command in place.

    The 3 Chiefs were taking up this task but they too have lives outside the department so the duty officer allows them to reduce the number of calls they have to make.

    We've discussed the duty crew but for several reason including some already mentioned this would be very difficult program to run and the benefit probaly wouldn't be that much in the over picture.

  5. #5

    Join Date
    Jan 2001
    South Central, PA, USA


    1. Duty Officer assigned from 1900 Friday until 1200 on Saturday, who
    is then relieved by 2nd Duty Officer from 1200 on Saturday until
    1200 on Sunday.
    2. 2 F/F's assigned from 1900 Friday until Saturday at 1200, then a
    2nd crew of F/F's comes on at 1900 Friday until 1200 Sunday.

    Duty crews are assigned to perform apparatus checks and various station chores. Duty Officer is responsible for performing a 1-2 hour drill for his crew and others on station.

    Duty Officer is responsible for all dept business and incidents, until/ unless higher ranking officer feels the need to relieve the Duty Officer.
    These views/ opinions are my own and not those of my employer/ department.

  6. #6
    Forum Member

    Join Date
    Feb 2000
    Here and There


    Not sure if you're pure volunteer or paid-on-call.
    We're paid on call, with a screwy system of who's budget pays for what (quasi-separate fire and ems).
    Our EMS budget has come up with some money for paid shifts for one of our two ambulances. We cover 0800-2000 most weekdays with 2 people (extra manpower can respond to scene if needed), 0800-1400 on a couple other days, and pretty much 24 hours on the weekends.
    We pull shifts during the day on most summer weekends for fire/rescue, especially if the wildfire danger is high or there's going to be a lot of weekend vacation traffic on the highway. We will probably be going in on a deal with the neighboring dept we are sort-of combined with on having a small (2-4 people) fire shift on weekdays at the station without on duty EMS (if there are EMTs on the fire shift, they can first respond).
    One of our problems is lack of personnel. Our fire dept only has about a dozen or so people. The other dept's about the same size, and then there's about a half dozen extra EMS only people. Since we are paid on call, we're limited to 40 hours a week for standbys, training, and calls. We have a few people that have better hours than others and are taking up a lot of shifts, only to make themselves unavailable by the end of the week since they are at 40 hours. Then there are people like me that commit around 60 hours a week at work & commuting who don't want to commit another 20 or so hours to the station (plus the shift times don't match up well).
    Just for info, the ambulances run about 500-600 calls a year (combined), and each fire dept runs about 150 fire and 100 rescue calls a year.

  7. #7
    Junior Member

    Join Date
    Sep 2002

    Default Duty Crew Program

    You are asking what appears to be the question of the year in our area. We have just implemented a 5 month trial dut crew program. Our reasons are three fold. 1.) we are very busy department, 1400+ call per year, no EMS - only fire. 4 stations, 72,000 population and a 3% annual growth rate. 2.) the increasing amount of time required of our firefighters. Basic Requirements are FFI, FFII, Hazmat Operations, First Responder, Basic Pumping - All within the first 3 years. Also 12 hours of internal training per quarter and 40% of all of the calls for their station within your available time (available time is all time except for full time job, vacation, sick). Monthly work details (truck checks, equipment checks, minor maintenance, etc. 3.) Response times, our average is 10 minutes from time of call to arrival of 1st appropriate apparatus.

    We are currently paid-on-call with a pay rate from $7.78 per call/hour to $12.24 per call/hour. Most of our firefighters make from $3,000 to $6,000 per year not including pension.

    We have had over a 100% turnover rate in the last 3 years.

    Our Duty crew program is 4 firefighter on duty in one station from 0600 -1800 Monday - Friday. They are paid an hourly rate equal to their firefighter rate. They are also given 1% per hour worked toward achieving their monthy response percentage. They are allowed to work upto 30 hours per week.

    We have only completed 1 month of the program, however in the early going we have found that we have been able to fill every shift and our response times have been cut almost in half.

    This program was implemented with a fair amount of heart ache, however I think that it will be worth it in the long run.

    I know that this a long answer to your quetsion, but it is not an easy question to answer. I recomend that you form a committee, ask alot of questions, ask for alot of input from the department and move slow but steady.

    I hope that this helps.

  8. #8

    Join Date
    Jul 2002


    As a Volunteer Fire Company I don't believe you can require anyone to be on duty at the station for any period of time....But I could be wrong.....I know we don't do it. I'll give you our "Duty Crew Program" Maybe this will help you.

    First my company is a small department averaging 380-420 calls per year. We cover a 2.1 Square Mile First Due with numerous Mutial Aid Districts and Operate an Engine, An Engine/Rescue, A ladder and a Utility Truck. We have about 35 Volunteer Firefighters and 9 Officers.

    We run a Duty Crew System of 23:00hrs. to 06:00hrs. Seven Days a Week. Thre Crew is selected by the chief each month and announced during the regular company meeting. The Crew is Made up of an Officer [Captain or Lieutenant] and four to five firefighters. The primary purpose is to insure a rapid response to small incidents [Car Fires/Accidents - Brush Fires - Smoke and Fumes Investigations] All other larger incidents are Station Assignments and all are supposed to respond including the duty crew.....

    We don't have or plan to have Sleeping Facilities in our station --- We don't have a large volume of night runs [Maybe 100 a year] Most of our runs are during the day and prime time hours....Our Duty System works well for us....It might not fit your needs but I thought I'd Share it.
    Stratford Fire Company # 1
    New Jersey State Firemen's Convention Champions - 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 2000

  9. #9
    Junior Member

    Join Date
    Apr 2000
    Laurel VFD/ Prince George's Co, MD


    My company has had a duty crew program for quite a while due to our volume of calls (3679 last year, 1 station) and the fact that MD doesn't allow POVs to have emergency lights. Our station is staffed M-F 0700-1700 with 4 county ffs and duty crew hours are 1900-2300 Tu-Su. We hold meetings or do drills on Monday nights, so we don't have crews then. Members must do one crew a week and sleep-in once a month (preferably the same night each week), with the exception of our life members (25 years), who no longer have any requirements. We also have a live-in program as well to handle the calls after hours. E-mail me if you have any questions. Take care and be safe.
    Phil Clinard
    Laurel VFD
    Prince George's Co Sta 10
    Laurel, MD

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