1. #1
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    Default Volunteer verses paid service

    One thing I just don't get.... how does a municipal government decide whether or not their Fire Departments are paid or must be volunteer. Granted I understand that the volunteers still get some form of compensation and all their training paid for etceteras, but I don't understand how they determine the salary verses volunteer.

    In Windsor, Ontario, where I used to live the Fire Fighters are on salary... yet the counties are volunteer. Is there a certain population number a community has to achieve before they become paid? Are their other factors to decide?

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    Generally a combination of factors will push a local government to move into paid firefighters and/or paramedics. Population will help to determine how busy a department is, and that might also show what kind of tax base is available to pay for full time. Now, the progression of volunteer to full time is very much in that order, as SO much of North America has been (and might still be) strictly volunteer or paid call until they are forced into pursuing paid help. How busy is your town or county going to get before volunteers lose morale and run out of time to respond. Face it, even working in town all the time, the average person won't be able to leave his/her job 3 or 4 times each workday to play EMT. Fiscally towns often love volunteer services and even those paid call arrangements, as full time salaries obviously cost much more. However, there comes a time when fiscal responsibility gets in the way of patient care and the ability to respond. When a department moves into full time employment, the town gains new public service figures who will be responsible for lots of little things as part of a new job description. Suddenly station chores & maintenance are to be done during a shift, paperwork & other administrative things are taken care of, and the towns will generally try to get their money's worth. It's a big step, but hopefully it is primarily determined by public safety and the ability to serve. Best of luck out there!
    ~Kevin
    Firefighter/Paramedic
    --^v--^v--^v--^v--
    Of course, that's just my opinion. I could be wrong
    Dennis Miller

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    Thanks for taking the time to reply. I appreciate it. You mentioned EMT as well. We have separate Ambulance services/paramedics that are volunteer in one area and paid in the next as well.

    I have never seen that as fair. Even if the services are only needed part-time then they should be compensated fully as any other part time employee would or paid call-in as appropriate.

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    On the flipside of paid versus volunteer, think about little towns where the morale is great in a fire or EMS department, and people enjoy the chance to catch a few calls each week because it keeps their skills up, yet they don't have to work 40-48 hours each week doing it. People also feel strongly about their taxes, and they know their volunteer time of 3-4 hours a week keeps the town from raising taxes to pay salaries for 2 full time FF's and/or paramedics. We all should have fire & EMS at our disposal in a very timely manner, and full time can help guarantee that, but not every town can afford it and so they make do with what they can. I'm not exactly sure how Canada does with federal funding for things like municipal fire/EMS funding.
    ~Kevin
    Firefighter/Paramedic
    --^v--^v--^v--^v--
    Of course, that's just my opinion. I could be wrong
    Dennis Miller

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