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  1. #1
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    Question Volunteer FF hours

    I am thinking about volunteering at a fire department. I currently take college classes in the evening/night, and work in the early morning part time. After I finish up my AA degree, I am going to take EMT and FF courses. I would like to volunteer to gain experiece. How flexible are volunteer departments with regard to school and work schedules? How many hours do volunteers typicallly work? Thanks


  2. #2
    Forum Member SafetyPro's Avatar
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    Varies a lot from department to department. Some actually have you stay at the station while on duty (similar to a paid department) while others (probably the majority) have you on-call with a pager and you respond from home, work, wherever.

    Most departments are fairly flexible with the schedule. After all, you have a job, family, life, whatever outside the department and they know it. Obviously, if it's a small department, it's harder to have that flexibility. Also, there's generally a higher time requirement when you first come on and are learning...may be a formal requirement in your probationary period or may be just an informal expectation.

    Our department requires regular members to attend 15% of all calls and 25% of all drills. Probies have to attend 50% of all drills, but the call percentage is the same. Reserve members have to attend 10% of all calls and 12 drills per year.

    Weekend and weeknight duty rotates among our three Crews, and each member is expected to pull duty with his/her crew per their Captain's instructions. For my crew, that generally means being on duty half of each weekend and half to two-thirds of the weeknights. There's also an informal daytime crew that's made of people who work in town and cover the weekday duty.

    We do have designated "station maintenance" on our Crew weekend. Generally that's about 4 hours on a Saturday morning. Drills are every Wednesday and 2 Friday's a month and are generally 2-3 hours.

    Since I live AND work in town, I tend to pull a lot of duty. My highest in a month has been 172 hours, and my lowest has been 109 hours. Most of that time, however, has been while I've been at home.
    Chris Gaylord
    Emergency Planner / Fire Captain, UC Santa Cruz FD

  3. #3
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    To second the earlier reply most are flexible but it all depends on your department. My department is a department where you go when you can go and you don't when you cann't. The principle of a volunteer department is that the firefighters have other jobs and lives outside of the fire department. So I would just talk to the chief but you should not run into to many problems as long as you have sometime to devote to it.

  4. #4
    MembersZone Subscriber SHVFD_Asst_Chief's Avatar
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    JP, the best thing you can do is go to a department meeting and talk to the chief and members. You will most likely learn that they will welcome any help they can get (depending on the size of the department).

    I hope that you will take the initative and head to the department and talk to the members. You will find it a most rewarding challenge.

    If you do make it on the department, listen to those that are teaching you. And don't be afraid to ask questions.

  5. #5
    MembersZone Subscriber ftfdverbenec770's Avatar
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    our dept is "go if you can, no big deal if you cant" we have done this as long as i can remeber. during daytime calls we avg about 5-6 people per call. anything major we can just call in a neighboring township.

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    My department requires all members to be there for a minimum of 24 hours a month. We have duty nights on weekends, but they're only four hour shifts, and you only have one every other month or so.

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    My vollie stations policy is that you make 2 runs and 1 of the weekly training/meeting nights per month to keep active status. Allowances are made for people out of town on vacation or with other short term unavailability. Given that we average 15 plus runs a month, and very rarely have less than 10 a month, running two of them is usually not a problem for most.

  8. #8
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    Thanks for all the responses. They are very encouraging. I sent an email to one station and I'm going to call some local stations to set up a time to go talk to them.

  9. #9
    Forum Member ndvfdff33's Avatar
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    My thing on this is VOLUNTEER...You don't HAVE to do anything...Its good if you come whenever possible and if you go all the time even better

    Having said that...My dept you are asked to attend 30% of Meetings,30% of Training and 30% of Fire/Medical Calls...Not too hard to do in the run of a year..If you do not fulfill these you are given a warning and if you continue not too Good Bye..Unless you have a very good reason not to be able to make 90% out of a possible 300% of those previously mentioned things.
    If someone with multiple personalities threatens to kill himself, is it considered a hostage situation?

    Ryan

  10. #10
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    well i am a full time student i take between 12-18 credit hours every semester and work full time it is all volunteer i usally run on days off, night , when i am not busy . there may be some days when you go 1-2 days no calls then 12 in same day but you can deside to go or not so it is all up to and your commitmiant but some or most departments requir a certian number ours is 10% of calls or if not just be around and seen. and do traing because we have to have 50 hours for fire and 36 hours for ems to stay on roster for the state.

    chris
    FF/EMT

  11. #11
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    Hi JP,

    I am also a full-time student which, when combined with my other (daytime) job, keeps me pretty occupied from 0800-1800 during the week. However, my personal motto is "Go on the run when available and able". Our department averages 1 to 3 calls per day, and last month, I was able to make just over 50%, even with work and school. One thing I found helpful is to do school homework at the station. It's pretty quiet most of the time, and if a call comes in, you can take a study break and jump on a rig. Additionally, we're a combination department, and the lone duty officer (who is required to be at the station, unless responding) often times appreciates an extra person (or people) around.

    Also, being a collge student, I'm used to the no-sleep thing, so I'm almost always there for the middle-of-the-night calls.

    Every department is different, but from what I gather, most seem to be pretty flexible. I hope it works out for you, I have not regretted a minute of my experiences.

    Best of luck!

  12. #12
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    our department is pretty lax. you ARE expected to be at both the monthly meetings (one training and one business/training) unless excused by the cheif or 2 officers. if you can make the calls great, if not, you cant. we have a guy on our department who travels alot for business. Ive seen him at both the meetings I have attended but none of the 5 calls Ive been to

  13. #13
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    You volunteer as much as you can without sacrificing your college education.

    Our dept. requires 40% of calls be made by the membership and that every attempt is made to attend the bi-monthly meetings. Having said that, like everyone else has, there are many who will never be dropped from the rolls even though they have made less than 5% of calls. It's a volunteer organization and it is understood that there are those who have more responsibilities than those who make 90% of calls.
    Master Chief

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    Homer : That's the spirit. Never give up."
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  14. #14
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    Thanks for all the replies. To update this thread, I went down to the station and picked up a volunteer application, and now I'm just waiting for it to go through so I can go do my physical.

  15. #15
    Forum Member SafetyPro's Avatar
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    Good luck! Let us know how it works out.
    Chris Gaylord
    Emergency Planner / Fire Captain, UC Santa Cruz FD

  16. #16
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    My department requires 32 hours of shift work per month or 24 calls, plus a business meeting, a training meeting and one squad training. That comes out to about 42 hours per month or so. I live 3 blocks from Station1, so I run about 60 hours of shift work (usually 6pm-6am) where you actually man the station, plus I run another 15 0r 20 calls a month from home. We ran 2600 calls last year, with about 75 members, so those of us who can make time generally have to.

    I don't buy the "We're VOLUNTEERS, they can't make us do anything" argument. If you want to be here, do what needs doing, or go volunteer at a department that fits your needs. The only reason we aren't a career department is because we have a core group that puts everything aside when the chips are down. We are the busiest volunteer department in our state, and are surrounded by career departments that would love our tax base. We have the best equipment, great rigs, new PPE, modern SCBA, training, etc. There are plenty of people who see this and know that we have no use for that argument I mentioned at the beginning of this paragraph.
    Yup, I'm going to hell.
    BUT, I'll be draggin a 2 1/2 with a smoothbore, so when the rest of you get there, make sure yer carryin overhaul tools. And bring me some more smokes...

  17. #17
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    To update this post, I am now a volunteer member of Pasco County Fire Rescue in Florida and I start EMT class tomorrow night and the department is putting me through an EVOC course at the end of the month.

  18. #18
    Forum Member Maverick9110E's Avatar
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    well so far they told me that since its my first year i have to make 60% of calls, but if im short on calls and i make a lot of drills the drills can make up for some of it. im not sure of the percent once your not in your first year. but its gonna get tough in a few weeks, i start fire 1 plus i work weeknds and have full time college classes. but the good thing is that while your at fire school we get credit if there is a call.

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