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  1. #1
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    Pensacola, FL

    Unhappy Paid vs Volunteer

    I'm in a combination department. We have a 24/7 paid crew, along with volunteers who show up as work/life allows. I find the arrangement fantastic as we can have great coverage for our district, and fast response for mutual aid. The newer FF's love it, as the paid guys get all the crap calls and we only run the actual fires and MVA's. Some of the older guys quit and joined other all-vol departments. Some of the older vol departments seem to have major issues with the paid crew coming into their district, which boggles my mind. I cannot fathom why people would refuse help that's there to assist them in saving lives in their districts. To me there is no difference between a fire truck manned with vols or manned with paid FF's.

    Is there a way to help the "old Guard" understand that the paid guys are a benefit??

  2. #2
    MembersZone Subscriber
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    Stirling, Scotland

    Cool Career V Volunteer

    All around the world with firefighters, there is and will continue to be, an uneasiness with full-time guys working with volunteers/part-timers.
    Both FL and CA have the highest perscentage of career firefighters, therefore more opportunity for conflict.
    The fact is that the Career guys should be improving the professionalism of the fire service, and this is causing a lot of the old ways to change, which is most upsetting to the traditionalists amongst us.

    I'm not from these parts, as you will see from my profile, and have worked as a career firefighter for 16 years. But I do know that it is important to work together, as the local knowledge of the volunteer and part-time guys are essential to competent incidend management.
    No one knows it all. Work together. Provide the best service for your communities.

  3. #3
    Forum Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2001
    Houston area


    As a career firefighter that volunteers on the side in another community, I kind of see the viewpoints on both sides. The bottom line for the volunteers resisting paid crews is this: The volunteers will put up with a lot of tedious, menial tasks, which will be made worthwhile on those very few times they're first on scene and first line inside on a fire. That's where 99% of the enjoyment comes from, from my perspective. As long as a paid crews at the station, the chances of being the first truck on scene gets pretty slim. As bad as that sounds, I think it's true. We're all adrenaline junkies to a certain extent. I'd probably put up with a lot less on the volunteer side if I knew I'd never be first in to that housefire on the nozzle...

    There's no doubt or argument that paid crews are better for the community, unless you can successfully make the argument that overall manpower is reduced dramatically by the lack of volunteer responders that left after the paid crews came into the picture...
    These are my opinions and not those of the organizations for which I work and/or volunteer.

  4. #4
    MembersZone Subscriber
    Join Date
    May 2003
    East central Illinois


    We are all supposed to be doing this for the "community" right??? What is best for the community???? I know that in most of us it is about 50% for our selves and 50% for the cummunity. I think if a new tool came out that would help us protect our people better every dept. would have it. Having a "paid" crew is that tool!!!! For all you traditionists out there I know that this is a touchy subject and these are just my opinions. Just for the record I am a volunteer also.

  5. #5
    MembersZone Subscriber
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Oskaloosa, Iowa, United States

    Cool Career vs. Volunteer

    I'm with a career department that used to be 19 strong when I started in 1982, now we're down to 8 career and 20 paid reserves. It wasn't what we wanted but after time the department has adjusted, it's just the way it's going to be. Since we're in the rural midwest being called for mutual aid from nearby volunteer communities let us work with volunteers and I'm sure aided in the process also. I think the biggest problem between career vs. volunteer is the word, "professional". As a career firefighter we're proud to wear our IAFF logo and proclaim ourselves as professional firefighters. When you pull onto the scene, even it's to dump a load of water you get the feeling from some of the guys, well here are the know it alls. I've tried to be sensitive to this and try to convey, we're all in this together. I've said before during this topic with reserves, fire doesn't know the difference between a volunteer or career.

  6. #6
    Forum Member Weruj1's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 1999
    NW Ohio


    So far this is the MOST civil I ever seen this topic discussed, I am glad you hid it here. I am not sure how I wold feel about full time FF's coming to the dpeartent even if they were your own. We were a little antsy about putting on part-time people from 8-4 , but we roll the 2 EMT's and then back them up with POC coming from home. Obviously the concern is that those not on the FT end will loose their drive, as most incidents are handled by a FT unit/station. I am sure it will happen one day and it will a brdige to cross.
    IACOJ both divisions and PROUD OF IT !
    Pardon me sir.. .....but I believe we are all over here !
    ATTENTION ALL SHOPPERS: Will the dead horse please report to the forums.(thanks Motown)
    RAY WAS HERE 08/28/05
    LETHA' FOREVA' ! 010607
    I'm sorry, I haven't been paying much attention for the last 3 hours.....what were we discussing?
    "but I guarentee you I will FF your arse off" from>
    http://www.firehouse.com/forums/show...60#post1137060post 115

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2003
    sitting at the watch desk


    I dont look at this as a "paid" vs "volunteer" issue.
    If a department can staff equipment with well trained motivated personnel what does it really matter if they receive a paycheck or not. (when I say staff equipment, I mean adequate personnel at the station ready to respond when called.)
    Like someone said, its what is best for the community.
    In this day and age, it is getting harder to find people to volunteer their time. Volunteer staffing is falling off some places. The time to fill the ranks with paid staff is here.
    If a fire department (and there are some out there) can staff their equipment with all volunteers (trained and motivated) fantastic, keep up the good work if not, we must hire people to meet the needs of the community we serve.
    We as volunteers need to keep on top of our game and train as much as possible and meet the same standards as the paid firefighters do.
    I have been in all volunteer departments and combination departments, the best setup for a combination department was one where the paid and volunteer fire fighters had to meet the same training and promotional requirements.
    "where is my second due?"
    I.A.C.O.J. 2003

  8. #8
    55 Years & Still Rolling hwoods's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2002
    Glenn Dale Md, Heart of the P.G. County Fire Belt....

    Cool And Another Opinion.......

    You guys are losing it...... 7 posts and no name calling yet? My hat's off to you who can carry on an intelligent discussion on this topic, most people can't. I'm 61, pushing 62 hard, and I've been a Firefighter up thru Chief over the last 45 years that I've spent in this wonderful business. Several points. Professionalism is not bought with a paycheck, it is earned with Training, Education and Experience. A positive attitude helps a lot too. Look at us from the Fire's perspective, Skin burns, whether it's paid skin or Volunteer skin is irrelevant, Skin still burns, and it hurts. There is no reason IN MY AREA for people to miss out on training, it's plentiful, and convienient. I hold 11 National Pro Board certificates, including Fire Officer IV and Instructor III, and I got these the hard way, I earned them. Oh, BTW, I'm a Volunteer. Stay Safe....
    Never use Force! Get a Bigger Hammer.
    In memory of
    Chief Earle W. Woods, 1912 - 1997
    Asst. Chief John R. Woods Sr. 1937 - 2006

    IACOJ Budget Analyst

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


  9. #9
    MembersZone Subscriber ff7134's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2002


    We have had this problem o an extent with our volunteers. They feel if we show up the Paid people will not let us do anything and we will get sent back to the station. I tell any volunteer if you show up to a medical call...be my guest I will go back to the station and you can go to the hosptial. I think its mainly about percieved perceptions. The volunteers feel that the Paid people don't need me and they have way more training than me. The Paid people see it as the lack of motivation or training.

    Me I could care less, as long as you know what you are doing, and your going to watch my back, I'll watch yours. All Firefighters are Professional, some just get a paycheck.
    AKA: Mr. Whoo-Whoo

    IAFF Local 3900

    IACOJ-The Crusty Glow Worm

    ENGINE 302 - The Fire Rats


  10. #10
    MembersZone Subscriber
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Western NC


    As a volunteer, I feel that if you can staff a station with paid personel, without sacrificing anything elese, than you should.

    When I say without sacrificing anything else, I mean without having to cut back on apparatus, training, equipment, or anything else you need. Once you are able to provide all that and still have some $$$, then start paying people. My department is on the verge of doing that now.

    There are some departments near me, however, that have been so hung up on ensuring they have paid firefighters that everything else suffers. They have such a small amount of equipment and staff that they have come to rely on mutual aid for a lot of thier needs.

    The best rated station in our county is a 4, and it has 1 paid man during the day and just a month or so ago started paying some of its volunteers to staff the station from 6-12 every evening. My all volunteer station is a 6 going to a 4 when the next inspection comes, the paid sattions are both 5's with one just dropping to 5 last month. Both could probably be 3's or 4's if the money spent on pay had been put into equipment.

    Of course, my county has never had any trouble finding volunteers, in fact my department is limited by its charter to 40 firefighters and has a waiting list for vacancies. If you can't get folks to volunteer thet situation will be somewhat different.
    Last edited by radioguy; 08-17-2003 at 11:22 AM.

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