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    Question Paid Chief in Volunteer Dept ?

    What do you think about a Volunteer Dept. operated by a municipality (small town) that is talking about starting to pay the Chief who is a volunteer as well, in other words giving him a 40 hr a week job. If this was your dept. what would you think. Keep in mind the benefits of having a person on duty, time to do all of the things a chief needs to do. what do you think, how would it go over.....

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    Winfield;

    What you are describing is what we just went trhough a little over a year ago.

    So far, it is working out quite well. Given the mountains of paperwork that must be done these days (NFIRS, ISO, work-comp, OSHA, training records, etc., etc., etc.) it has really allowed us to jump ahead of where we were. There are new SOPs in place now, and we always have a medic in town.

    Downsides: Guys are not as willing to wash rigs after a call: "Let the day guy do it."

    Sometimes it's hard to stay motivated, especially when you hit a dry spell (we ran a grand total of 7 calls last month. Yup, 7, and that includes EMS).

    Chian of command, at least for administrative stuff, is hard to maintain. "Just go ask the chief... He's in the office." No, go see your company officer....
    Anyway, if your department can get it in the budget, it a great idea.
    Last edited by jaybird210; 04-29-2004 at 11:45 AM.

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    It sounds like they want one person who is around and accountable.
    Let's face it the chief's job is mostly administrative, and with the fireservice expanding into so many areas having an administrator around would be nice.
    It is also nice to have the IC around 9 to 5, and you'll know where he is when you have questions or problems. I would guess that he is also the head of the FPB and having an expert to help the city inspectors with fire related problems is great.

    On the down side, their may be a few who are ****ed off, (old guys club stuff) but the advantages far outweigh any problems

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    I would think that such a decision would be a good thing. First of all, it gives your department business hours. Folks know that they can call/visit the station and speak with someone. Also, it would make it easier to handle all of the administrative work that the chief has.

    I'm guessing that if you guys have a police department, you have a full-time police chief. Why not a full-time fire chief?

    Of course, how small of a city are we talking about here? How big is the department?

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    it seems like a good idea, but i think he should be more than just the chief of the dept. ie, he should be a EMT/Paramedic, Fire inspector, as well as an experienced FF. i like the idea of having a medic in town during the daytime, but if you make the requirements to be chief only fire fighting experience, u might not get the medical qualifications for fire prevention certs that you are looking for.

    just as one down side: he works 9-5, mon-fri. so you won't have the chief responding to calls at 3am. also, most people work 9-5 mon-fri, so if they have a problem, they are going to have to find time (during their work schedule), to get a hold of him, or they need to deal with one of the other officers, and have them say "speak to the chief."

    also, is there really 40 hours of administrative work a week for a person to do on a "small municiple department?"
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    Originally posted by DrParasite
    just as one down side: he works 9-5, mon-fri. so you won't have the chief responding to calls at 3am. also, most people work 9-5 mon-fri, so if they have a problem, they are going to have to find time (during their work schedule), to get a hold of him, or they need to deal with one of the other officers, and have them say "speak to the chief."
    How so? As a volunteer, the chief has been responding to calls in the middle of the night... why would that stop with him having a regular 40-hour work week? I work for a combination department with a career chief. He works a standard work week but responds after hours on working fires.

    Additionally, how have the vollies gotten in touch with the chief in the past? With them working during the day, I'm sure they call or visit with him after they get off work. Again, why would that change. This guy's going to be fire chief -- not an insurance salesman. Regardless of office hours, being fire chief is a 24-hour job.

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    Our department covers a district which includes the city and outlying areas. The city was required by their charter to have a Paid full-time chief. Since our volunteer Chief was already in place and doing the job needed they appointed him as the City Fire Chief and gave him a salary to match the police chief. He does 40 hours a week and runs calls on his off hours like before.
    With all of the paper work, meetings with water board or local government officails, ratings, taking trucks to and from the repair shop, talking with grant writers, etc, etc.... I can't imagine how we could have operated and maintianed our rating in the past 8 years without having our Chief working fulltime for us.
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    You guys give your Chief too much to do. NFIRS, ISO, work-comp, OSHA, training records, etc. are handled by the company Captains. Chief just makes sure the Captains are doing their jobs. I, as a soon to be Captain again, would be happy to let someone else do all that, and if they got paid for it, good for them. Can it work? Sure. Is it better to have a Chief around all the time or an actual FF? (that should get a little feedback) I can see it being a Chief IF they are involved with inspections, permits, etc.

    Here's a side question: his/her working day is 9-5. Fire call comes in at 4:30 and lasts 3 hours...does he get overtime? Does he lose the 1/2 hour pay because he was at a fire call? Or there is a fire call at 8am and he is not finished until 11am. Is he 2 hours late for work? After all, you want him to respond to fires 24 hours a day.

    Just things to make sure are in the contract before hand.
    "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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    A volunteer dept. at most meet 1 night a week for say 3 hours, keep in mind the Chief is human too, he has a job, family, and a personal life. In this 3 hours a week he will have to take care of pre-fire plans ,hose testing, pump testing, ladder testing, training, deal with membership issues, community politics, budget issues, vehicle maintenance, building maintenance, nfirs reports, local reports, the list goes on. How can you do this as a volunteer, I know what you are thinking, deligate, we are lucky to get our officers to show up much less to do anything. In our case he still would be a 24/7/365 person but he would get paid to do all of thr business end of it during his 40 hr job.

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    Originally posted by DrParasite

    just as one down side: he works 9-5, mon-fri. so you won't have the chief responding to calls at 3am. also, most people work 9-5 mon-fri, so if they have a problem, they are going to have to find time (during their work schedule), to get a hold of him, or they need to deal with one of the other officers, and have them say "speak to the chief."

    In every department I am familiar with, this is a salaried position. It is not a "40 hour per week" job. The chief responds to fires just like any other chief. Even most paid departments have chiefs who work 9-5, but respond to large incidents during other hours. Under the current FLSA, most chiefs are not be eligible for OT.

    As for not being available to firefighters after 5:00 p.m., salaried positions are not a 40 hour week. Most salaried chiefs put in at least 50 hours and 60 hours is not uncommon. The chief would be expected to attend meetings and drills just like before.

    In departments I am familiar with, the FT chief on a volunteer or POC dept works well. Prior to a FT chief, the chief had to work enough hours outside of the department to provide for his family and then try to squeeze in the responsibilities of being chief. The FT chief can handle the paperwork, conduct fire inspections and meet with city officials (who do work 9-5)in addition to responding to emergency calls. Prior to the FT chief, the POC/VOL chiefs often had to request time off from their FT jobs to take care of business that had to be conducted during normal business hours. This is never a good situation.

    There is no doubt that a full time chief is needed in many communities that are served by volunteer or POC departments. There is also no doubt that many communities are not at the point where a full time chief is needed. The hard part is determining which category a community falls into.

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    We are going to implement a full time chief at the start of the fiscal year, its going to be our current chief and he really needs this so he can prevent getting burned out and recieve compensation for his time beside the piddly amount he recieves now. Our dept runs about 350 calls and the numbers are really beginning to take off and in the near future we may be looking at close to 500 or more. Our town is growing, quickly, and the towns people recognise this. We are also getting new station, and a new first due piece, and a utility so the towns people are already gonna be paying a lot. On top of that we are finding we are covering other towns districts because of our departments quick responce and manpower, which means more calls.

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    I think a paid Chief in a volunteer department is a very good idea in a growing community. Of course on size doesn't fit all, so to some degree it needs to be looked at on a case-by-case basis.

    One caveat: a paid Chief who handles nearly all of the business dealings of the department should also make sure that other officers are aware of what is going on and how things are handled. If the Chief is ever incapacitated, moves, or just happens to be on vacation, things still need to get done.
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    We have a dept very close to me who has this going on..Chief works 8-4 every day of the week...except weekends and is the volunteer chief as well(obviously)...He does all sorts of stuff around the station like maintenance,all the paper work etc....
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    As was said before, you must go on a case by case basis. What works for us may not work for others. That being said, we got our first FT Chief in 1997 or 1998. Then in 2001 or 2002 we put 2 PT personnel on from 0800-1700 M-F. The Chief handles administrative stuff, attends meetings, goes on some calls, attends meetings, a couple inspections, and attends some meetings. The PT crew does 95-99% of the fire inspections, responds on all calls, reports, and anything else deligated to them that particular day. Our Chief is a salaried position and must be a Paramedic. There is actually enough work to be done that we could actually put on a FT Assistant Chief, but I don't see that happening for at least another 5 years.......

    BTW, we serve a populatin of approx. 6000 people in 7 sq. miles and had 900+ calls in 2003.

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    Default Re: Paid Chief in Volunteer Dept ?

    Originally posted by winfieldff20
    What do you think about a Volunteer Dept. operated by a municipality (small town) that is talking about starting to pay the Chief who is a volunteer as well, in other words giving him a 40 hr a week job.
    What are the feelings in your department about this, winfield?

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    welllllllll about 3 years ago we did the same thing. Our POC Chief went to a FT position. For the most part is has worked well for us. I will also say that he is not afraid of getting up and going on any call whether "at work" or "off duty". He is very dedicated.
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    Originally posted by Weruj1
    welllllllll about 3 years ago we did the same thing. Our POC Chief went to a FT position. For the most part is has worked well for us. I will also say that he is not afraid of getting up and going on any call whether "at work" or "off duty". He is very dedicated.
    But is he afraid of ghosts?????

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    Lightbulb Bass Ackwards?.....................

    In this part of the world, The first person to be paid in a Fire station was/is always a Driver, to insure that the apparatus gets out. The idea of paying a Chief never caught on, the first consideration is always getting the stuff on the street. And, as several have pointed out, a good Chief delegates, and the subordinates get the work done. But then, we're not that busy.......
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    There are a couple companies near me that have paid drivers. They respond with the first due apparatus. Problem is, they are alone. Works Ok on alarm calls and smells, but when they pull up to a fire and sit there waiting for another truck with a crew, it really looks bad for the department. They do minor maintenance on the trucks while on duty.
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    As most have said, the fire service has changed in many ways in the past 10 years. Their should be someone running the show that has the time manage the department.

    In our department we sure would like to have that opportunity to place a full time chief. With new law, requirements, regulations, grants, policies and procedures, inspections, maintenance, and such it has become a full time job for the fire chief. Add EMS to the pot and you start to see that even the 40 hours a week for 1 person to do all this is short.

    Managing a fire service agency in the real world takes a lot of effort for even the paid chief of a volley company. Sure they are still required to answer calls on off time, as is any volley, but think of other things that can get done that have not been able to.

    Would vollies resent a paid chief. Yep, in some departments they would, then again the benefit would out way the negatives. SO if ya have the money, do it. Heck if ya can put 2 on.


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    Well, our "Volunteer" system is kinda confusing.
    The Chief get $500.00/month for administration
    We have 2 Deputy Chiefs that get $50.00/month for ?????
    The rest of us get $15.00/hour for active firefighting.
    We get nothing for training, or public service.
    Our town wants us all to get our FF1 Cert. but can't understand that there are costs attached to attaining this.
    Our Fire Hall is in such poor shape that the foundation has shifted and there is daylight showing through the cracks in the walls.
    And most importantly...we had no mice this winter because it was too damn COLD in the hall this winter. You know it's bad when the mice move out

    Seriously though. Our Chief goes to EVERY call with us. He is not in the hall for regular office hours. He takes care of the the details in between calls and running his own business. None of us begrudge him his money because none of us want to put up with the political BS.
    Last edited by ROOKIELZ; 05-02-2004 at 10:18 PM.

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