1. #1
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    Question Being a Volunteer and a Career Firefighter

    How many of your firefighters who volunteer have been hurt volunteering and lost time on the career job do to that injury?? Now compare that to all the other injuries that happened while firefighters are on their free time. I would bet to say that more firefighters get hurt playing sports on their free time then fighting fires with a volunteer company. Anyone have any stats on this??

    Just want to see how the IAFF or unions back up there rule in some departments that you cant be a volunteer because you might get hurt and not be able to work.



    FFJerry2000

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    Post Actually...........

    I have been a Volunteer for 45 years. 24 of those years I worked as a Career Firefighter as well. I've never been off work because of an injury. In fact, I never used much sick leave either. There is one thing that applies here, and that is I LOVE THE FIRE/RESCUE SERVICE. Period. To remark on your choice of words, as a former member of the IAFF, I don't think the union gives a damn if you get hurt volunteering. The union's position is that if you are a union member, then you should not be a volunteer. Simple position, nothing vague in that. If anyone is a union member, and wants to volunteer, then quit the union. That's a simple position also. I should know, I did just that, many years ago. Would I do anything different today? No. I make my own decisions and go my own way, following my own beliefs. Stay Safe....
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    Default Hwoods

    Can you answer a question then??? Why dont the unions want THEIR members to volunteer??? If they are not worried about them getting injured (which is the excuse I always hear), then what is it??

    Still looking for a straight forward answer and I am not getting one!!! Out of all you Union guys, can anyone come up with a legitimate reason????

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    I'll try to give the best answer I can, but be warned, I'm no politcian... or "labor leader"...

    My best shot to describe the unions stance on this matter is:

    Because as a labor issue, we should be "paid" to work. It's hard to argue that your being treated unfairly/paid poorly by the city when you are volunteering in another. As a union for FF's it's often about creating jobs for FF's as well. Why should a city that has a budget capable of supporting a paid dept still "freeload" off of well intending volunteers? They should be paying those same people to man those stations and perform those duties. Maybe they're afraid of the responce one might get if the city/dept found out that the reason you can't work is becuase you were injured volunteering. Truth is I don't have 100% of the answers you probably looking for...

    I'm sure if you emailed the IAFF they could give you a better answer than me.
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    I seem to remember in the not too distant past that a career Fort Worth(?), Texas fireman was killed in a church or warehouse fire while doing his volunteer gig.

    Everyone was up in arms because the IAFF didn't consider it an 'IAFF LODD' (a fair quantity of benefits) since it did not occur in the course of his career firefighting.

    Makes sence to me...
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    Default I always hated The Watchdesk, but it sure filled a need....

    This is the third thread in a week of this nature.

    I sure wish we could filter this crap somehow.
    posted by ffjerry2000
    Can you answer a question then??? Why dont the unions want THEIR members to volunteer??? If they are not worried about them getting injured (which is the excuse I always hear), then what is it??

    Still looking for a straight forward answer and I am not getting one!!! Out of all you Union guys, can anyone come up with a legitimate reason????
    The locals who have a union policy against volunteering have a policy. It is up to each local to decide these things. Sometimes they give this up to gain something else in negotiations.

    You are looking to start a fight. Nothing more.



    Are there no other issues in the fire service for us to discuss? Do we have to keep rehashing this same tired issue? This is not something that can be resolved throguh internet forums. It has ben tried here repeatedly, and unfortunately, there are individuals on both sides of the issue that simply refuse to discuss it rationally.
    Last edited by jaybird210; 11-11-2003 at 08:32 AM.
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    Default

    The locals who have a union policy against volunteering have a policy.
    They have a policy for a policy?

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    Exclamation

    Ok ffjerry calm down,
    I'm still trying to figure out what exactly you are looking for from this thread (assuming it's not just to pick a fight ). I don't think you really understand too much about the IAFF or unions in general. You seem to think that the IAFF are "those guys" trying to shut down all VFD's forever and brainwash all the career FF's into not respecting volunteers. What you fail to understand is that the IAFF and locals are made up of FIREFIGHTERS looking out for...you guessed it FIREFIGHTERS! If a career FF still wants to volunteer in their community he/she WILL, period. I don't think the IAFF stance will stop anyone from doing anything they personally beleive in. Given this...where does YOUR problem lie? I have a feeling it's not so much a union issue more than you may have had a bad experience with some career FF somewhere. If thats the case and you were unfairly disrespected I'm sorry, but there are bad apples and people having bad days everywhere...get over it. (thick skin IS a requirement in this job).
    Now before the rocks start flying in my direction (and let them come, by the way). I AM a career FF, I AM in my Local and the IAFF, and I DO support them because they do support ME. I also give up a a lot of my own free time to help train volunteer FF's so they can in turn help each other and operate more effectively and safely. Those I train with are a great group of people and I love doing it, they don't seem to have the same thin skinned vibe I get from you.
    I suggest FFjerry that you figure out where your animosity is coming from and deal with it instead of witch hunting.

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    ffjerry2000

    The IAFF is a union. It exists to protect the membership that it represents. When you have union members who volunteer in a neighboring dept that is also union, this is seen as taking employment away from other union members.

    When a town or city is paying your health and insurance premiums, they have a vested interest in making sure any job-related claims are from that job. When the Fort Worth firefighters were killed volunteering in a neighboring town, they got no death benefits from the city of Fort Worth, nor should they. It was a LODD, but the town it happened in did not have benefits and if I remember corrctly, had to be shamed into paying something. The City of Hartford, Conn. asked for and got the no-volunteer clause in the contract, not the union. They agreed to it, though.

    I have friends who work with me and volunteer also, though not in union departments. That won't happen here, ever. They know full well that if they are hurt, they're on their own. It's their choice and I'm fine with that.

    Obviously, if you were to do a statistical analysis of injuries and where they occur, I'm sure skiing, painting the roof and driving a car result in more off-time than volunteering. A municipal government can't control all of your life, but they can control some aspects when they are paying the bills - like smoking, driving records and volunteering.

    And a union can prevent you from being a member if you violate the rules and by-laws. It's that simple. Not all do, but in some areas where it's a problem they do. And in many places, if you're out of the union you're out of a job.

    Don't know if this clears up anything....I have no interest in debating you on the subject - it's been done to death and you certainly won't change my mind. Good luck with your "poll".....

    I f

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    Default Not again (groan)

    There were TWO Fort Worth firefighters who died while acting as volunteer firefighters. NEITHER VFD community stepped up to cover the $400K LODD benefit. As the widows were appealing the Fort Worth retirement board decision to the state supreme court, the mayor of Fort Worth convinced the city council to provide the coverage.

    The gory details about the unique issue of IAFF members volunteering in communities where there is another IAFF local can be found at:
    http://firechief.com/microsites/maga...=157&siteid=26

    Scroll down to the section on "Death and Disability Concerns." In many cases it is the EMPLOYER that wants to restrict off-the-job high risk activity.

    Back to your original question:

    If you get hurt off the job you are not eligible for "light duty" or alternative work assignments. There is no "injury leave," you need to use your own sick/annual leave.

    Here are some examples of lost time or lost job:
    City firefighter injured in a roof collapse as a volunteer chief.
    City firefighter burned during a live fire class at his volunteer organization.
    County firefighter severely burned while visiting his old vollie house back home - took in a fire, destroyed his county fire gear. He used up all of his sick and annual leave AND had to pay for the damaged gear.
    County firefighter disabled while working as a state fire instructor. State said he was an "independent contractor" - no benefits. (Forced the state to change the status of part time fire instructors - but no help to this guy.)

    Here is a common trend:
    If you are career AND volunteer, may lose access to cancer-presumption or heart-lung disability benefits. Workman's comp may say the incident that lead to your illness happened when you were a volunteer. PLEASE keep detailed records of your emergency activity and fill out the exposure reports.

    Mike
    Last edited by Mward0; 11-12-2003 at 08:59 AM.

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    MwardO
    Didn't know Fort Worth paid; that's good, but I wouldn't hang my hat or my families future on that happening all the time. Thanks for the update.

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    To me, it is very simple.
    If you choose to join a union, you choose to follow their rules. You pay dues. You adopt their mission statement. You do what you are asked to do by them.
    If you don't like rules, you have two choices: fight to change them or move on. That too, is a choice.
    You can't have it both ways when you belong to a union. If they call a strike, you strike. If they say, support a particular candidate, you support them. There is a price that comes with having union benefits.
    I don't see what the big deal is. I am a former union (UAW) member. I followed their rules. I supported their political candidates. I didn't agree with everything, but I supported them when the vote was taken. It is a commitment that you make when you join. And you should honor the commitment.
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    How is this? How many other jobs out there have a career side and a volunteer side? I started as a volunteer and became a career firefigher so I can speak from experience on both sides. I understand that many towns can not afford and are not busy enough to support a career department. However, there are many cities and towns out there, mine included, that have both career and volunteers companies. We have 6 paid companies and 1 volunteer company. The problem is that the city has been skating for many years with a cheap answer to providing fire service to that district. Now before you start sending me nasty responses, I came from that same volunteer company. I not saying that all volunteer companies are cheap. If this company were career, it would have the potential of doing 1200 call a year. Presently they don't get out to all their calls and that isn't fair to the people living in that district who would have to wait longer for one of the career companies who would now have to cover the volunteer company. To get back to the question at hand. How would you like it if I came into your place of work and told your boss I would do your job for free and that he doesn't have to pay you?

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    ffjerry2000 let me guess. You are from one of the departments that will be affected by the Hartford Contract?

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    Crossbro,

    shoot me an email will ya email

    Dave

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    How would you like it if I came into your place of work and told your boss I would do your job for free and that he doesn't have to pay you?
    Are there that many volunteer companies trying to take over paid areas? I kind of think it's the other way around, paid companies replacing volunteer companies that can't offer the full responses. Your comparison doesn't hold water. I'm not at my job now for free, so you coming in as free ain't the same. I am at my FD for free and if you came there to do it for free, you'd be welcomed as a member. Volunteers are not replacing paid guys, paid guys are taking over for where volunteers can't/won't do it enough. When call volume gets too high, membership gets too low, paid guys are brought in (or converted from volunteer) to supplement that problem. I ask again, how many paid companies are accepting volunteers, not including combo departments? Paid companies are stuck running under-staffed instead.

    In a way, it's kind of funny, but really sad, we complain about being under-staffed and not enough guys on the rigs to help, but we would not accept help for free because it's costing a job that's not going to be hired anyway.

    I will agree, volunteers should not go and replace paid members. But if the volunteers are already there, then replacing them with paid members is a totally different beast. I understand a Union would want to put more paid guys there, that is there purpose, I don't disagree with them doing what they are supposed to. But don't blame volunteers for being the reason more paid guys aren't getting hired, it's not the volunteers fault.

    In the end, I'm not against paid guys, I'm not against the Unions. I see their needs and purposes and mostly agree with that. I am also a strong believer that some places will never have the need for a paid crew and should not be forced to get one.

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    I'm not at my job now for free, so you coming in as free ain't the same.
    To the contrary. My point is that if cities and towns could get away with not having to pay for firefighters and could staff their department with volunteers they would do it in a heartbeat. Just as your employeer would fill your job with someone who would do it for free as well. As I said before, I have nothing against volunteers, I was one myself. I understand that their are communities out there that can't support a paid department, it is those communities that can afford it that are the problem. In my city for example. The people who live in the volunteers district are not getting the same level of service as those who live elsewhere in the city. If you had to wait 4 minutes or 10 minutes to get help, which would you prefer?

    But don't blame volunteers for being the reason more paid guys aren't getting hired, it's not the volunteers fault.
    I never blamed volunteers for being the reason more paid guys aren't getting hired. I know that they are doing it to serve their community.

    I am also a strong believer that some places will never have the need for a paid crew and should not be forced to get one.
    I agree with you. My point is that a city with 60,000 residents and a department doing 7,500 runs a year needs a full-time department. That is over 20 runs a day. How many volunteer departments do you know of that are doing that?

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    My point is that if cities and towns could get away with not having to pay for firefighters and could staff their department with volunteers they would do it in a heartbeat.
    And if the volunteers can provide the service at an acceptable level, what is wrong with that?

    Just because a city can afford to pay for it does not mean they should. If there is another alternative (IF volunteers can/are providing acceptable service) why change it?

    My FD right now rolls 2 engines with 5-7 guys each. We are on call number 307 this year, we don't run EMS. Our onscene time from dispatch is less than 5 minutes. If we staffed our firehouse with paid guys, the time would be less than 2 minutes at most. I would much rather enjoy my lower tax rate than to think what it would cost to provide that same level of service with paid members. (3 shifts of 10 guys at $$$$ salary) Most likely, it would change to 3 shifts of 3 or 4 guys. Is that better service? Now I get 2 engines with 10 guys, paid I would get 1 engine with 4 guys. Yes, my town is a bad example because I am an area that volunteers are doing it and most likely will never be paid. But the theory continues, if the volunteers can do it, why replace them just because a city/town can afford it?

    Let's look at combo departments. Where they paid departments that supplemented their staff with volunteers so less guys had to be hired? or were they volunteer that added paid guys to supplement the volunteers? I'm betting most would be the latter case. Problem is, the paid guys and Unions want to get more guys paid and less volunteers. Volunteers aren't coming in there taking away paid jobs, the paid jobs weren't there already, it's the paid guys coming in and replacing volunteers...and they probably needed to be.

    That is over 20 runs a day. How many volunteer departments do you know of that are doing that?
    Happens in areas of Maryland all the time. Unfortunately, that is also the land of Paid vs Volunteer Hell.

    PS - it's nice to see some people can discuss this civilly.
    "This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?

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    Most volunteer departments in my area are struggling to find members. Response times are long and manpower is low. These are the areas I am talking about. I know the volunteer fire service isn't going anywhere. The volunteer company in my town has 26 volunteers. Most of the time they only get out with 2-4 firefighters on board. Of those 26 firefighters, 7 are officers. Of those seven officers only 2 have structural firefighting experience. Are you starting to see my point?

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    And with the call volume of your department there is no need for paid firefighters. That would be insane to have paid firefighters for that volume of calls.

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    Originally posted by Bones42 ...Happens in areas of Maryland all the time. Unfortunately, that is also the land of Paid vs Volunteer Hell.
    It's a result of rural areas becoming increasing urbanized. But that stuff doesn't belong on the fireground or EMS scene, or for that matter in the engine bay (or kitchen, watch office, bunkroom...)

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    Bones, it's like you're reading my mind ... and you're right, it is a pleasant surprise to read a civil, adult discussion about this.

    To add my agreement, it would be an absolute crime for a volunteer to come into a paid area and agree to do a job for free so that the city could fire paid firemen. Anyone who would do this should be shot. At the same time, no one has guaranteed anyone, anywhere, at any time, a job in any profession. Is it wrong to take someone's job? Yes. Is it wrong to do something for free, thus making it not necessary to create a job? No. Furthermore, it is questionable that this is even happening (due to the fact that, in many cases, if there were no volunteers, paid guys would simply have to do more with less).

    I have nothing against the Union, or the paid guys. Heck, I even understand that the Union is simply trying to do what is best for its members. They are running a business, and a business does what a business does. It is sometimes frustrating dealing with them, though. For example, in Dauphin County, when volunteer units go mutual aid into Harrisburg City, the volunteer companies are not allowed to use the Harrisburg City frequency. All messages must be relayed through the dispatcher. Also, when the city calls for volunteer mutual aid, if you are a paid fireman ANYWHERE (not just Harrisburg city, I can understand that ... but ANYWHERE?) you are not allowed to respond in. It's kind of like ... do you want the help or not? Are these huge issues? No. Are they annoying? Yep.

    Just some of my thoughts on everything ...

    Stay Safe

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    And right now it appears that the systems that are in place in our communities are working, albeit somewhat disjointed in some places, but apparently, the communities are happy with what they have.
    And there won't be a problem until there's a problem! If a civilian or a firefighter dies because of all of the external issues, then all hell will break loose.
    Members of the community will say "gee, we didn't know it was this bad".
    Members of the fire department will say, "hey; we've been telling you for years that we can't get new members."
    And all of a sudden, everyone has a bad taste in their mouth from something that had been brewing for some time.
    The public needs to know if you are understaffed, lack equipment or leadership for that matter. They pay for the service. They should be informed so that if there needs to be an increase in the money needed to run the department or if there is acrimony or whatever, the public needs the reassurances that service will continue.
    Having the public know our business isn't always a bad thing.
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    That would be insane to have paid firefighters for that volume of calls.
    I would agree. But there are some towns nearby that have less calls and have hired guys. Tell me this makes sense, they hire 1 guy? What is 1 guy going to do? He does not do maintenance, is not an officer, simply is there for when they have a call. Why did they hire him, low member turnout. Now that they have 1 guy getting paid, they have even less turnout. Each little part of the world has their own little story...
    "This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?

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    Originally posted by Bones42 ...Happens in areas of Maryland all the time. Unfortunately, that is also the land of Paid vs Volunteer Hell.
    I'm not sure, but aren't several of the "volunteer" departments there staffed by paid people, most of the time?

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