1. #1
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    Default Should I go Volunteer or Full time

    Ok, I think I am about to go volunteer for a local fire department. I am excited, but I was just wondering why volunteer instead of joining a full time department? Other than the fact that the department I want to work for is not hiring. And if I decide after a little time to go from volunteer to a full time department would I be competing against other people who were volunteer also. I just want to know why would someone stay volunteer if they had the chance to go full time? Or wouldn’t they? It seams like there are a lot more volunteer firefighters in this country then there are fulltime firefighters. I ask these questions because I could see myself doing this type of work as a career and getting paid for it. But is that a reality? Or should I just be happy doing the volunteer work?
    Last edited by syrnyfire; 05-27-2004 at 04:08 PM.

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    Anyone??

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    You don't want to go there.

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    Default Re: Volunteer vs. Full time

    Originally posted by syrnyfire
    Ok, I think I am about to go volunteer for a local fire department. I am excited, but I was just wondering why volunteer instead of joining a full time department?
    That is a question best put to each individual personaly. The answer will be different for every person.

    Other than the fact that the department I want to work for is not hiring.
    You just answered for youself in your situation.

    And if I decide after a little time to go from volunteer to a full time department would I be competing against other people who were volunteer also.
    I wouldnt call it competing against the volunteers. I dont think they realy care if there are more career FFs in their area. Most would like the idea IMO.

    The career guys do sometimes feel that the voly guys are "competeing" against them, taking jobs, etc...

    I wouldnt call either way "competing". Its not a race to see who can put the fire out fastest, its not a popularity contest, its not skills contest, its not a contest at all.

    What it is, is serving the communitie and protecting the public

    That goes for both voly and pro.

    I just want to know why would someone stay volunteer if they had the chance to go full time? Or wouldn’t they?


    - They have a very good carrer (IE doctor, lawyer, what have you) and volunteer bacause they like fighitng fire.

    - They own a buisness/self employed and make more money then they could career, but they like fighting fire.

    - They dont want to move to the area where the pro job is available, but they like to fight fire.

    - On and on, this one is also as varied as eac individual is.

    Personaly, I stoped my paid fire career to take a job in emergency managment. I still volunteer to fight fire, because I like it. But, I realy like my emergency managment job because I can do my best to get my fellow emergeny responders what they need in regaurds to training, funding, equipment, grants, etc... on and on.

    The old military saying goes...

    Amatures study tactics, pros study logistics.

    It seams like there are a lot more volunteer firefighters in this country then there are fulltime firefighters.


    I dont recall the exact numbers, but yes there are.

    Not every community can afford a paid department. Some volunteer systems are so strong they dont need to go paid even though they are much much buisier then some paid departments in the nation. Yes, this probly takes away some paid jobs, but this is a decision that is up to each community to decide.

    I ask these questions because I could see myself doing this type of work as a career and getting paid for it. But is that a reality? Or should I just be happy doing the volunteer work?


    Well, I hope you find the answer for this on your own.

    Firefighting is a respected, intersting, exciting, and rewarding career. You will likely be underpaid in most areas, well paid in others.

    Depending on where you are trying to find FF work, it can be difficult to get on. For examble in my State, MT, there are <10 paid departments in the entire state. They have a very slow turnover rate and very slow growth for the most part. There are <5 openings a year, statewide. About 500 FFs are in the hiring pool, many that are 10+ year vets with all of the certs and BAs degrees you can shake a stick at. These FFs are usualy from out of state looking to move to MT. So, getting on a FD in MT is a pretty daunting task. There are always the Fed wildfire career path, but that is realy hard hard work, no doubt about it. I dont know many guys who want to do that stuff until retirement. Upward mobility in the wildfire world is very difficult unless you have a degree of some sort in forestry, biology, etc...

    You probly have your best chance trying to get on a large Metro FD. Maybe Las Vegas, IIRC they are growing constantly. Something like that.

    But, definatly volunteer, learn as much as you can, and then decided if fighting fire is you calling, pro or no.
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    Originally posted by oldman21220
    You don't want to go there.
    Look, I don’t know what the problem is with my question and I don’t mean to cause problems. I am very serious about firefighting and I have very serious questions. I just want some opinions. I am new to the idea of working as a firefighter so I am still not sure what to ask and what not to ask. Maybe you could explain it to me. I have been on other forums where people are always looking to start annoying and argumentative threads. I assure you this is not my intention. I am about to fill out an application to join a volunteer fire department. I just want some answers.

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    Default Re: Re: Volunteer vs. Full time

    Originally posted by SamsonFCDES


    I wouldnt call it competing against the volunteers. I dont think they realy care if there are more career FFs in their area. Most would like the idea IMO.


    I meant, for getting hired in a full time department.

    Thanks; those were the answers I was looking for. I just want to fight fire and help people. I just wouldn’t mind getting paid for it as well.

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    The answer is really up to you. If you desire to work full time as a firefighter because you want to make it your career then the answer is there for you. If you are happy in your present job and find firefighting as a volunteer a fulfilling act of community service or as a way to have the best of both worlds you have your answer.

    As for me I do both, I work in a medium sized city as a career firefighter and volunteer in the rural community where I live. One is my career that supports my family and I. The other is a way to give back to the community I live in. I like both sides of this and both are rewarding and meaningful to me.

    FyredUp

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    Originally posted by FyredUp


    Thanks, Good input.
    Do you know if any cops do volunteer firefighting?

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    Do you know if any cops do volunteer firefighting
    2 of my Deputy Chiefs, 1 of my Assistant Chiefs, 1 Captain, and 1 Lt. are all LEO's. There are also 4 or 5 other FF's that are LEO's. My department is all volunteer.

    I am excited, but I was just wondering why volunteer instead of joining a full time department
    Do both. Just don't volunteer where others are getting paid.
    "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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    Lots of them do. I used to run outside of Philadelphia, PA and we had cops, lawyers, district judges, doctors, electricians, dispatchers, and some other computer jockeys like myself.

    Every volunteer department has a mix of career backgrounds, including some that work as career firefighter.

    Personally, I don't go career because like many others, I can't come close to my salary as a software developer in a full time FF position without working mad overtime. A friend works as a LT nearby and out of a 3 shift schedule he worked more than half of his shifts on overtime, and still made less than me. It's just a simple fact that FFs don't get paid enough for what they do. I think of it as collecting one paycheck for doing two jobs.

    But money isn't everything to everyone, so if you think being a career FF is what would make you happy, then go do it. Definitely join the volunteer department to get your feet wet first. If you've never done it before, you'll be mighty surprised at what goes on, on the other side of the scene tape. There's a ton more to fighting fire than just putting water on it, than I thought there was before I joined and went to fire school.

    Regardless of paycheck status, I think everyone gets the same satisfaction of making a difference in people's lives. That is the common bond that links everyone in emergency services.

    Good luck - Brian
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    Originally posted by Bones42 Do both. Just don't volunteer where others are getting paid.
    Are you saying career FFs in combination areas shouldn't volunteer in their own area (which I can understand), or are you saying there shouldn't even be combination service? If the latter, as a volunteer in a combination service, I'd have to respectfully disagree.

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    Sorry, bad wording. You should not get paid and volunteer in the same area.
    "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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    I'm not trying to start anything, but I don't really like that name "Volunteer vs. Full time." It should either be Volunteer vs. Career or Volunteer vs. Paid. The job of volunteer fireman is as "Full time" as any job can possibly be.

    Anyway, you make it sound like joining a paid dept. is as easy as getting hired at McDonald's. It's not. It's very hard. There are hundreds of applicants for very few jobs. You have to be in very good physical condition, do extremely well on the tests (if you're a white male, you have to be perfect, and sometimes even that's not good enough), you have to able to give a real good interview, etc etc.

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    Lets not get this turned sideways, for I think once this person is not comapring the 2 only asking about a potential for him go full time. As the oldman said "dont go there", but in reality he is asking a legitmate question, not saying one is better than another.Lets try and remeber that so this to does not go down in a ball of flames. For you new posters, this is like adding gasoline to a fire, and you may tread where you dont mean to go, if some tells you to step back please listen to them.
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    Originally posted by Weruj1
    Lets not get this turned sideways, for I think once this person is not comapring the 2 only asking about a potential for him go full time. As the oldman said "dont go there", but in reality he is asking a legitmate question, not saying one is better than another.Lets try and remeber that so this to does not go down in a ball of flames. For you new posters, this is like adding gasoline to a fire, and you may tread where you dont mean to go, if some tells you to step back please listen to them.

    I tried to change the subject for this thread but it wont let me. It only changes it for the original post but you would have to go back and read my original question at the top of the thread to see this. Sorry for the confusion.

    In doing some more research it looks like this area of the country is not hiring fulltime, so that answers that question. I still want to fight fire and help people so I am volunteering. I put in my application today. I should find out in July if they want me.

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    Originally posted by syrnyfire



    I tried to change the subject for this thread but it wont let me. It only changes it for the original post but you would have to go back and read my original question at the top of the thread to see this. Sorry for the confusion.

    In doing some more research it looks like this area of the country is not hiring fulltime, so that answers that question. I still want to fight fire and help people so I am volunteering. I put in my application today. I should find out in July if they want me.
    What you will find out ANYWHERE you go in NY Sate, is that nobody is hiring. The entire Northeast is this way. Fire exams are held every May or June in NY, but you will find out, you have to live in the jurisdiction you want to work for, or, the town you want to work for is so small that no matter what you score, politics play a role in you hiring status. If you are serious about making the Fire Service a career, my recommendation would be to look South, and West. To be specific, look in area where there is growth. Some good areas to start would be:

    VA (Hampton Roads area)
    NC
    SC
    GA (Metro Atlanta areas, Fulton, Gwinnett, DeKalb etc.)
    FL (You need a Firefighter Certificate in order to get hired in most cities and counties)

    If this is not your cup of tea, then you will find the Vol. Service quite rewarding, you will meet lots of interesting people along the way, and it may take you elsewhere, I became a dispatcher 8 years ago, and liked it so much that I haven't looked back. Good Luck in whatever you choose.

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    Texas is the same as Florida in that there's a separate certification (Texas Commission on Fire Protection) that all career FFs must have. If you come from out of state and you have IFSAC FF1, FF2, Hazmat Ops, and Driver/Operator you can challenge the TCFP Basic FF and get the certification that way. Otherwise, you'll have to go through an Academy.

    The numbers may have changed a little from 2 years ago, but at that time Houston FD said they would have anywhere from 2000-2500 FFs eligible for retirement. They have been running academies like mad. Up until last year, even TCFP certified applicants had to attend the full 16 week HFD academy. Last year they started an 11 week fast track to move things along as well as the full Academy. Many get put into EMT class, then on a box for a year, then go to the academy. The pay is less than most places, but there's no state or local income taxes, and the cost of living is dirt cheap compared to outside Philly where I moved from 4 years ago. Plus the HFD schedule is 24 on, 24 off, 24 on, 5 days off. So there's plenty of time to pick up a part time job doing dang near anything if you want to make more coin. A lot get on as day crews for volunteer departments, but many sell cars, houses, and everything else there is to do.

    If I went career, I'd do it for the schedule. But I'd have another job, my wife wouldn't let me sit around for 5 days.

    Here's their site: http://www.ci.houston.tx.us/hfd/index.html

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