1. #1
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    NJFFSA16's Avatar
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    Post Volunteers needed!!

    Rural fire departments have difficulty finding volunteers
    jcsbkshut8784
    ST. JOHN, Kan. (AP) - Blame the hours or the tendency of people
    to work in larger cities instead of their own small towns.
    Whatever the reasons, Kansas' smaller communities are having an
    increasingly tough time attracting enough people to staff their
    all-volunteer fire departments.
    "You can't make a living volunteering," said Stafford County
    Fire Chief Harold Fischer. "The people who do this are extremely
    dedicated, but it just seems we can't find enough of them in the
    last few years."
    Volunteer firefighters are on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a
    week. They can make $5 to $15 per hour for calls, depending on the
    county - but no calls, no pay.
    In some small communities, the shortage has reached a crisis
    level, meaning departments are not able to provide the same level
    of service they could a few years ago with a full staff, said Jim
    Keating, president of the Kansas State Firefighters Association.
    "It has become a serious problem," Keating said.
    "Unfortunately, it is not an easy thing to solve, and that is
    becoming painfully obvious."
    In Stafford County, Fischer is responsible for seven departments
    within the county lines. He usually has no problem staffing
    stations in the larger towns such as Stafford and St. John, but in
    small towns such as Radium and Seward, the volunteers can be hard
    to come by.
    An ideal number of volunteers would be 15 to 20 people at each
    station, Fischer said. Small towns, though, are lucky to have 10
    volunteers.
    "It seems to be worse right now," Fischer said. "Several of
    my volunteers work in Great Bend or another larger town, so they
    are not available during the day to respond. It can put us in a
    bind sometimes."
    When more help is needed, departments rely on stations nearby
    for mutual aid.
    "A lot of us depend on it," Ellinwood Fire Chief Chris Komarek
    said. "If we are fighting a big fire in extreme weather
    conditions, the men become overheated fast. They need time to rest,
    and if we don't have the numbers for replacements, we rely on other
    stations to step in for us for a while."
    Kinsley Fire Chief Buford Brodbeck tries to keep about 30
    volunteers on his staff at all times. Besides Kinsley, his district
    covers surrounding townships - an area easily protected by his full
    staff.
    The problem, he said, is during the daytime hours and holidays
    when the number of volunteers near the area falls off.
    "People don't stay in the small town all day like they use
    to," said Brodbeck, who is nearing his 50th year as chief.
    Many communities have considered shrinking their fire
    departments - trading in half a dozen volunteer stations to one
    countywide station staffed by a few full-time firefighters.
    That solution comes with problems of its own, fire chiefs say.
    It would require an increase in county taxes to support the
    consolidated department, and also would lengthen the response time
    to the smaller towns that no longer have local volunteers.

    (Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
    Proudly serving as the IACOJ Minister of Information & Propoganda!
    Be Safe! Lookouts-Awareness-Communications-Escape Routes-Safety Zones

    *Gathering Crust Since 1968*
    On the web at www.section2wildfire.com

  2. #2
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    They can make $5 to $15 per hour for calls
    Hmmm, my volunteer fire company pays $0 to $0 per hour for calls.
    "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?

  3. #3
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    Angry You Don't Want To Get me Started.....

    I have yet to see anyone who is the subject of a hand wringing, woe is me, we're losing our Volunteers, story in the media, that tried to do anything constructive about it. I an not accquainted with the gentlemen in Kansas, and I mean no disrespect, but when you need Volunteers, you need to do something positive. Now. I'll bet no one is knocking on doors to spread the word in those Kansas towns. You want people, you have to go out and get them. People WILL Volunteer, but they need to be recruited. You want Volunteers in the daytime in a small town, you need to look EVERYWHERE. How many "Stay at home Moms" in those areas? Get them involved. One (or two, whatever) Mom watches the kids while others fight fires. "Younger" retirees are another pool of prospects where they exist. I retired at 43, young enough to Volunteer for some years to come. People who work "Different" jobs and/or hours than the "9 to 5" thing. Last, Never, Ever, REPLACE Volunteers with full time people. Supplement, but not replace. The idea of a central, county station with fulltime people is good, but only if it is used to improve the situation. Closing outlying stations is extremely bad judgement, and would (IMHO) open the door for litigation. Someone will quickly jump up and ask, "You mean send the paid people from the central station AND the rural VFD to Farmer Brown's field fire at the same time?" My Answer. YES!! So you never sent more than one station to a fire before? CHANGE. NOW. The people you protect deserve the best that you can provide, REGARDLESS OF WHERE IT COMES FROM. 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.

    www.gdvfd18.com

  4. #4
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    You know this burns me------a few months back in the summer a bunch of chiefs in this area had a sob story in the paper on how they cant get anyone---I happend to have an application in all these departments. If they didnt want me ok fine(I am getting on one of them very soon)------but there was a long list on either side of my name! Why not call these people? How can you not have room on a understaffed vollunteer department when I walk to the chiefs office there is extra gear everywhere? Granted the other people and I may not have been the panacia of what they were looking for---but take what you can get if the help is out there.

    Sorry about the rant, I had to get it off my chest.
    I dont suffer from insanity, I enjoy every minute of it.

  5. #5
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    I suspect part of the Kansas issue is the general de-population of the agricutlural parts of the Great Plains. Farming just doesn't take as much manpower today, and many residents in these rural communities are retired/elderly and their homes aren't going to be filled when they pass on. Bigger equipment allows a farmer and fewer hands to work much more land, and population densities are falling.

    See an article like http://216.239.39.104/search?q=cache...hl=en&ie=UTF-8 for more on depopulation

    Given those circumstances, leaving sattelite brigade stations around with a central staffed county station isn't a bad compromise, at least you know someone is responding if no one is around locally.

    As to the mix of paid & volunteer, combination systems can work. Many areas make the mistake of waiting too long, until volunteer morale is already shot, before adding paid staff as a "stress relief" from the call volume. When morale is already in the dumps, it's very easy for the paid guys to become "grease on the skids" as morale continues to go downhill and the vollies shrug, "ah, let the paid guys do it." The other problem that develops is the best & brightest of the volunteers end up getting hired as the paid guys, and the remaining volunteers often end up lacking the leadership to effectively organize themselves.

  6. #6
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    and the vollies shrug, "ah, let the paid guys do it."
    That's what happened in my department. Vollies aren't about to get up for late night medical calls now that the paid guy is covering the night shift. Then he shows up by himself and people ask "where's your help?" and He says"I'm all that's coming I guess."
    The other problem that develops is the best & brightest of the volunteers end up getting hired as the paid guys,
    The opposite happened in my VFD. Those of us who went to classes and got our Firefighter 1 and State Hazmat Certs left the department or don't work as paid guys. The full time paid guys we have now have no FF1 certification or State Hazmat certification. The only State certification they have is First Responder medical.

  7. #7
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    The full time paid guys we have now have no FF1 certification or State Hazmat certification. The only State certification they have is First Responder medical.
    WOW! The state allows you to be a full-time paid firefighter without having your FF1?

  8. #8
    55 Years & Still Rolling
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    Question Call Volume???........

    There are those that sometimes think that I just don't get it. This might be one of those times. Call Volume and Rural VFD combine to create an oxymoron in my book. In our area, we have trouble getting Volunteers for the stations that only run a couple of thousand runs a year, because everyone wants to migrate to the ten thousand runs a year places. A friend who is a Chief Officer from another state tells me that one drawback in Rural VFDs that run Ambulance services is transport time/distances that have a crew gone from their area for 2-3 hours. That seems to be a big factor. 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.

    www.gdvfd18.com

  9. #9
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    WOW! The state allows you to be a full-time paid firefighter without having your FF1?
    NFD, I don't know what the State allows. I just know what we have been doing. I had worked there part time while working full time as a corrections officer. When I got hired fulltime I left the prison job. I then found out that since I was full time FF now I could apply for State Supplimental pay if I had FF1. I found a FF1 class about to start in a neighboring district and convinced my Chief to adjust my schedule so that I could attend since the extra $300 a month would really help. 4 other volunteers also completed the class with me and since I had been working for a year as a fulltime FF I was able to apply for my Supplimental Pay as soon as I got my LSU (Go Tigers)FF1 Certificate. Sadly, during this time, voters went to the polls twice to vote down a tax increase which would pay for increased city services. So I jumped ship and took a job offer from a local Security Company. I continue to volunteer with the Fire Department. Today the Chief and his daughter, a paramedic but no FF certification, are working at the station. Friday he will be working with one of 2 son-in-laws who volunteer and work parttime for the department. Of course that brings up the question of nepotisim. But that's a whole other thread.

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