1. #1
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    Question Live-Ins at Volunteer Stations

    I know that there are many fire departments back east (especially in MD, VA, and PA) that have "Live-In" firefighters that exchange their response for free housing, etc. This is an avenue that my VFC may soon pursue, so I have some questions. 1) Where are you from? 2) How many live-ins can your department handle? 3) How much does it cost the department? 4) What are your requirements for the people living at the station? 5) Did you have to renovate your station to accomodate live-ins? 6) What problems have you encountered? 7) Do you have both male and female accomodations, and if so, have there been problems with the two co-existing? 8) Who monitors the live-ins for rules violations, etc.? 9) Do you allow alcohol/less than appropriate cable channels, etc?

    I realize that there are a lot of questions here, but I'm very interested in how different departments use the program. If you don't wish to post on this thread due to the extensive number of questions, feel free to e-mail me. Thank you all for your time and stay safe.

  2. #2
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    Post We Do......

    Hopefully I can do this without taking too much space. Yes we have a live-in program, but it is not that formal. Unlike many organizations, we do not have any college students, who are the main reason behind such a program. (I think) Our live-ins are regular members of the department who prefer to be at the station rather than home for whatever reason. There are currently 5 who are there everyday and we have a duty crew program which provides for additional people every night also. Our cable TV is the basic package, no extras such as pay per view, Alcohol is not permitted in the station. Male and Female quarters are separate as the building was designed and constructed with a large career crew 24/7 in mind, but that never happened, and the chances that it will are diminishing rapidly. The drawback to a student program is the time that it takes from applying to be a volunteer to the day that you can get on a piece of apparatus is about 4 to 5 months. Currently, 2 live-ins are officers, so that addresses the "who watches the rules" question. Anyone with more questions, post them, and I will try to get answers for you. Stay Safe....
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    I find this whole concept facinating. Do these people actually live there day in day out? Do they work shifts? If they use college students, how do they control the booze?

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    The department in my hometown had live-ins, here is a little overview of how it worked.

    We had five stations, each of the living quarters were set up a little different, some were dorm style, some were individual rooms. All had male/female accomodations. Each had a different number of beds, some had enough for three, some had five.

    The minimum requirements to be a live-in were a minumim three months in the department, EVOC, and first responder level. Each live-in worked a set amount of duty nights, some went to a shift assignment schedule, others made up their own system. They were to attend all training, responsible for the maintanence of the station and rigs. They were basically responsible for getting the rig to the scene and provide primary care.

    Each live-in paid a monthly rent and had to pay for their own food. No alcohol whatsoever was allowed on dept property, along with firearms.

    This is just some basic information, if you would like more please email me: justinboddy@hotmail.com

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    I have heard something about a volunteer station somewhere near DC that is staffed 24/7 yet completely volunteer. The department apparently has a lot of money because they have their own apartments. The FFs pay their rent for the apartments by running calls with the department.. Does anyone know anything else about this? I think it is a really cool idea.

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    I think the department you are talking about is Kentland vfd in PG county Md. You can check their website for more information.Kentland
    Mike

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    Smile Yup!!...Its Kentland.......

    The post is correct, it's Kentland. But, don't stop there, The surrounding area has more. Go to the "links" and look up these (last years response totals in brackets) all are in PG County Md. (274,440) The vfd's are: Seat Pleasant (7775) Bladensburg (6145) College Park (8425) Glenn Dale (7861) Kentland (10158) Landover Hills (12488) If you want to roll on from one thing to another, then this is the place. The vfds above are a few of the 45 in PG Co. The SLOWEST house ran 1614 last year, the busiest was Silver Hill #29 with 15394 responses. Stay Safe....
    Never use Force! Get a Bigger Hammer.
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    Asst. Chief John R. Woods Sr. 1937 - 2006

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    www.gdvfd18.com

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    Question...If you get a free roof over your head, are you really a volunteer?

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    Default Of course their still volunteers

    If Volunteer Firefighters bunk in at the station without collecting a weekly paycheck I would think that their still Volunteers. Don't try and say that since their little sleeping space is free that their actually not a volunteer. That's just a fringe benefit which helps the community greatly.

    How far do you want to take it? I get free coffee and soda and my volunteer station. Am I still a volunteer? Maybe the coffee is my pay and I shouldn't be looked upon as a volunteer because of this.

    What about those stations that give a clothing allowance. Hmmm, I wonder if their still volunteers?

    DON'T GO THERE!
    Chris Shields
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    Default WHOA THERE BIG FELLA

    Easy Cheetah.... I am asking a valid question. There is a big difference in "bunking down" at the firehouse, getting free coffee etc. and LIVING rent/mortgage free. I am sorry that you do not like my question. But before you get yourself all knotted-up, I think there could be valid questions about tax liabilities. Just like unmarked buggies. The IRS has been known to clamp-down on unmarked "take home" vehicles. Maybe I am off-base wondering . The concept of firefighters LIVING at the firehouse is one that is foreign to my geographical region. However, I DO NOT NEED YOU to tell me to "DONT GO THERE".

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    Default Sorry About That

    Mikey,

    Sorry about being so rough, my defensive line was a bit premature there. I am just soooo sick and tired of the career-vs-vol BS that we all read about way to often, that I let my guard up too quickly.

    When I read your post, all I pictured was a career brother sitting at his computer trying to make a point that fire stations shouldn't have volunteers living their rent free.

    So tell me, how close was I?
    Chris Shields
    Lieutenant / EMT
    Haz-Mat Technician
    East Syracuse Fire Dept
    Onondaga County, NY

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    Chris, I'm not trying to say that, I'm just trying to figure out why someone would want to live in a firestation.

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    Default I am NOT Anti-volunteer

    When I think of volunteer firefighters, I think of the person that drops whatever they are doing and responds when called. I was a paid on call firefighter myself for 8 years before I went to the career side. I may be off-base, but I think it is a little odd for an adult to reside at a firehouse. Some of these people are career firefighters
    in other Union departments. As Chief Woods pointed out, the departments that have live-in firefighters are very busy places. How much firefighting is too much? I am curious if you can consider living rent free as income since I have never heard of such a thing until recently. I will state quite plainly that I do not believe Union firefighters should be working in other Union departments. That has been a long running argument on these boards, covered ad nauseum. I dont want to re-hash that. I do not think that position qualifies as being "anti-volunteer"..Like I said, there are many many dedicated volunteers serving our country. I bet dollars to doughnuts that there are not that many departments that allow firefighters to live at the firehouse. I can see the point of allowing college students to do so, but I just dont get it when it comes to the others.

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    I think there is a large difference between the "traditional" living at station-in a common dorm/bunk room, and what this is. These people have single person rooms, pretty much like an apartment I assume(and it is just that, an assumption). Also, I must say I, personally, would love to have the opportunity to live in a fire station..but that's just my opinion.

  15. #15
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    Cool OK......

    In the middle of all this, my station, Glenn Dale, does it this way. The people who "live" here could live somewhere else at the drop of a helment. They are doing what they love to do, and by an overwhelming majority, doing it well. Although there are people who handle calls from home, and even a few who leave work when the situation seems right, there is a need for people in the station 24/7. Yes, this is a combination department, but the career crews usually work a straight day shift, weekdays. My career folks work a 10 hr day, 4 days a week. The people who work on shift are on a 24 on 72 off plan. As for what we do, it's simple - If it ain't knives or guns, we do it. In our county the fire department even runs the bomb squad. 100% of EMS operations, 100% traditional fire operations, 100% rescue of ALL kinds, All Hazmat operations, You get the drift...... In the stations, sleeping (living) quarters are not that lavish in that I am not aware of any "apartments" but most are laid out with a decent amount of room and privacy. You would really have to spend a few days here to get an idea of just how things work. Stay Safe....
    Never use Force! Get a Bigger Hammer.
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    Asst. Chief John R. Woods Sr. 1937 - 2006

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    My dept is a combination dept that has room for 22 live-in vollies. This is free of charge. This includes a bunk, closet, dresser, bathroom/ shower facility, TV lounge, kitchen and state of the art fitness center. Most are single males that want to live free from mom and pop.

    In order to live at the station, they must stay at the station 4 weeknights and 1 weekend night. It helps the dept, the members can stay rent free. Most of them, including myself, stay about 3-4 years.

    It is a method to insure our apparatus is adequately staffed. Many depts in our area have the same type setup. 4 depts also offer it to the local college students.

    It works for all involved.
    These views/ opinions are my own and not those of my employer/ department.

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    Thank you all, so far, for your replies. I appreciate everyone's information. Let's please try to keep this as a constructive thread...I don't wish to get into any debates over career vs. volunteer, whether or not living-in makes you a volunteer still, etc. Please save the debates for another thread....I'm doing research here.

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    Mikey and Smoke.....

    In the past I have usually given you venom-filled replys to your posts. I am gonna try a different angle here. I am a live-in member at my Volunteer house. I live there because I am single, don't feel like jumping into a rent/mortgage situation yet and because I just plain like to do it. I am employed gainfully and do not consume alcohol in the fire station nor do we entertain females there. A live-in program benefits alot of people. First off it benefits the fire company because they have guaranteed night time staffing, the community benefits from the same thing....it benefits the member because they are able to maybe go to college and save money for room and board....and it also lets you develop a camraderie with other live-ins that is very similar, if not stronger, to the camraderie shared by career firefighters. Contrary to what some people think in this area, the Volunteer stations are not Flophouses than are fullof jobless teenagers. Most of the places, if not all of them require either gainful employment or full time student status in order to live in. Which is not that unfair.
    You Waste your time, YOUR LINE IS MINE!

  19. #19
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    Talking He's still out there!!

    CW....Hi Bud, Good to hear from you, I thought you might have moved on to other things. Your comment about requiring full time student, or full time job, status to live-in reflects the requirements of all the stations that I know of. We have those rules at 18 and they are enforced. If you are a retired COJ like me, well, that is an exception, but we currently don't have any retirees living in. Stay Safe....
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    Asst. Chief John R. Woods Sr. 1937 - 2006

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    I Refuse to be a Spectator. If I come to the Game, I'm Playing.

    www.gdvfd18.com

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    I think there are a lot of assumptions being made about live-ins and their departments here, and I'm not sure they're all accurate.

    I really don't know how it works in other places, but here in the backwoods I think the *smaller* departments are more likely to have live-ins. Why? Well, for starters, they can't afford paid staff, so this is one way to staff the station on the off-hours. Second, often these departments are rural -- might have members living ten miles away or more. So live-ins cut WAY down on the response time. Third, especially in a small, out-of-the-way station, live-ins cut down on crimes such as vandalism. Empty fire stations can be tempting targets.

    The people who choose to live in are mostly college students and other single young people, but that depends a lot on the department. In my department, we have single rooms for four people available (all other facilities are shared). Alcohol is not allowed, and that's never been an issue, to my knowledge. (I don't actually see why college students = drinking, but that's another issue.) Live-ins have to pull a certain number of shifts.

    The facilities are really not suitable for couples or families (actually, I wish they'd change that -- they'd get many more people to live in, and they're always hurting for live-ins!) -- the rooms just don't have the space for more than one person. And they don't allow pets, which doesn't sound like a big deal, but in a place where per capita dog ownership must be at least one, it is.

    Another local department put up a family of six just to have someone living at the station -- again, one of these more remote stations where they don't get many calls, so the burden isn't too hard on the one FF there, but when a call comes in the response time difference can be critical.

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    My department is 100% volunteer and we have some full-time live-ins and some part-time live ins. We designed our new station with the intent of making it a second home. There are 14 men bunks & 6 women bunks, there is a great TV room, weight room, and bathroom/showers, etc. We do not buy their food or their bathroom items but we do pay their water & heat bill if you want to look at it that way. All the other rules apply also: no alcohol, no sex, etc.

    Our problem is that if you sleep in you have to go on the call. We burn people out this way, so we are trying to come up with a schedule (like PG County) where someone does not need to answer 3 calls every night of the week. Our fireside runs about 2,000 calls & EMS about 4,500 calls. Many of these calls are from 2400 - 0600. Obviously, running EMS & fire calls EVERY night for 7 days in row wears on you, but we have had members that do it for months at a time. Most of these type of members are students, or wealthy "un-employed" who chose to do this on there own.
    It is a great system. I wish we had more people who wanted to do it. I think HWoods' point is that this is another way for busy volunteer departments to survive & serve the community in the best way possible.

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    Certainly an interesting concept....

    For those that have live ins, is there an issue with those that have families and partners? (ie: could it be causing problems by having members stay the night at the staion vs at home? Or is this a "non issue" so to speak?)
    Luke

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    Lutan, I would say most of the Live-ins (at least at my station) are Single. So it is a Non-issue.

    Chief, Been busy down in Chrome City recently. Also I have been working day-shift lately and haven't been able to post as much. But I am back to Midnights next week, so I am sure I will be posting regularly again!
    You Waste your time, YOUR LINE IS MINE!

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    Default The times they are a'changin'

    No booze? No women? Isn't that the best part of being young and single?

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    Default Re: Yup!!...Its Kentland.......

    Originally posted by hwoods
    The post is correct, it's Kentland. But, don't stop there, The surrounding area has more. Go to the "links" and look up these (last years response totals in brackets) all are in PG County Md. (274,440) The vfd's are: Seat Pleasant (7775) Bladensburg (6145) College Park (8425) Glenn Dale (7861) Kentland (10158) Landover Hills (12488) If you want to roll on from one thing to another, then this is the place. The vfds above are a few of the 45 in PG Co. The SLOWEST house ran 1614 last year, the busiest was Silver Hill #29 with 15394 responses. Stay Safe....
    hwoods,

    PG County is a very busy place but......10,158 runs for one company ? Seriously....that averages out to 27.8 calls every single day for the entire year...theres only 24 hrs. in a day so with that in mind Kentland would never see the station. Put this into mind and check and see how true it is. Back door sources {Members of PG County Fire Cos.} have hinted on a few secrets and have told me that each run an individual unit {Engine, Ladder, Rescue,Ambulance, Chief, Ect..} Receives is considered a run...Let me explain if a Station such as Kentland receives an alarm say for a house fire {And they do get some pretty hairy ones on a weekly basis} each unit that rolls is considered a run for that station...If Engine 331, 332, 333, Tower 33 and Mini-pumper 33 all hit the street Kentland and other companies in the area consider one incident 5 individual runs....They classify each unit that rolls as opposed to each incident. Don't get me wrong Kentland and others around them are busy...VERY BUSY...and I personally have a high amount of respect for all of PG County, Md. Fire Departments.....

    I also speak from being there...A few years back I had the chance to ride out with Kentland for the day and did so. I was there 12 hours and ran 6 calls with them however they classified the tour I was there an 18 call tour each unit was classified as a seperate run to the same alarm. A great group of aggressive Firefighters to say the
    least and I too love how they maintain 24/7 coverage with all Volunteers
    Stratford Fire Company # 1
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