Thread: VFD Frustration

  1. #1
    Junior Member

    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Huntsville, Tx, Walker

    Default VFD Frustration

    Im writing this to try to gain more information in my quest to better my dept.
    I am from the 4th largest city in the US w/ the largest accredited FD and Largest FD to have a ISO rating of 1. My Uncle was a Capt at this FD. I moved to a county to attend school 2 counties north of this city. _ _ VFD is located in this rural county. Started volunteering w/ _ _VFD after I was discharged from military after 8 years of service. I have been with them now for 3 years. I work full time at the counties Combined (Police/Fire/EMS) dispatch center. I begin with this to not to boast but to let you know my mind set. Here goes.

    Since being in the department I have sat and learned as i should have. I have seen many members come and go. Some leaving out of frustration because of the admin and thier reactionary view on Fire Supression. The department does no interior structural fire attack. Has no written policies or procedures except for its constitution and by-laws. No postion descriptions or qualifications. We do participate in the state Volunteer Certification Program and since 2 years ago we restarted doing incident reporting. (NFIRS)The fore fathers of the department were very forward thinking in amassing good albeit not new yet very functioning equipment.. Equipment at the time that was the standard ie bunker coat and pants when at the time our larger city department was still thigh-high boots and a coat. Aswell as a sizable amount of money inthe VFD's cofers. I have been speaking to admin about changes that if not made the dept will go by the way side. Our county only funds us a stipend of $600 month. While at the same time paying 1/2 of the equipment budget of our city combined department. (they mutual aid to everything during the weekday and on structure fires, entrapments, and all other specialized rescue.) We only avg about 250 calls a year and ruffly 60% are 1st reponder/MVA. One of the main highways that cut this great state in half runs through our district so we get a far amount of MVA's. Yet until this year we lacked basic bls equipment. and only have 2 cert 1st responders. I have heard of neighboring counties paying on a per call basis. The expense of running this dept are rising each year although our call load ir rising yet our response to calls is getting poorer. We were lucky to recieve a grant for a brush truck with honestly was not needed the old one worked great just needed the pump rebuilt or replaced. The new truck was a brand new truck (1st one the dept ever had) however they went cheap on the pump. They call the bruch truck a mini pumper but it can not pump a 2 1/2 line while flowing an 1 1/2 in line into a tubodraft. We were denied for a grant for a new 1250 gpm Engine. (we have no water supply) Our Pumper can not draft witch would be our main source of water minus whats on the trucks we are furtunate to have 2 tanker w/ a combined 5750 gal capacity. More enphasise is on 4 fundraisers year than on training. total training hours offered by the department is 24. total hours spent having and prep for fundraisers 60 hrs. half the county is covered by an FD no turned ESD. but our admin have rejected the idea on several occasions. There are 18 members on paper about 12 go to meetings and about 6 you'll see on a structure fire in the afternoon or night. 2 will go into a structure. I believe everyone has a place in the department but those that dont want to fight fire, pump a truck, perform maintenance or the like shold not be in one. Ive asked admin to advertise that we need volunteers to the community or local University which our city dept keep drawing thier pool from (young abled body men and women w/ lots of free time on thier hands) the average age in the department is ruffly 39 with admin being near 60. They have denied my requests for a hone line in the dept and buy a computer even though ive explained the advantages of having everything computerized. They see no merit to foam, 2-in-2-out, do not preach IC and have just know started on accountability. Ive tried showing the facts used from Incident reporting, Mandate from NFPA, ISO and what other depts are doing. My question to you is how can I a "still newbie" change the good ol' boy system and try to revive this dept before it goes under?
    Anthony Tryon
    Crabbs Prairie VFD
    Huntsville, Tx

  2. #2
    Forum Member

    Join Date
    Jun 2004


    We have sorta the same problem out here...except we aren't as far in the stone age as your dept is. One thing you could do is back off, it may seem counter productive but back off. Get all buddy buddy with the higher ups and then one day when nothin is goin take them for a little visit to your uncles dept. They may see all the innovations and stuff there, then they may change there mind. If I am not mistake 2 in 2 out is an OSHA thing right...are you in an OSHA state, think about that one too. Another thing to try, be as active and as quiet as you can, get a few people to be good friends with you and form a "mini company" of 4 or 5 in your dept and try and do things the "right way" with this company, I did that here and it was rough for a few months but things are slowly changing...any other ideas would be nice.

    P.S. not to be rude or anything but proofread your post before you post because reading through it was sorta hard with all the misspellings...may get more responses that way

  3. #3
    MembersZone Subscriber

    Join Date
    May 2003


    Man, thats a lot of momentum to overcome...

    Remember your pushing against their insecurities, not neccessarily their ignorance, when you try to educate.
    For a bunch of tough guys, they can get their panties in a bunch quite easily.

    I'd cool it for a few weeks, but expecially if you have a young family, I'd explain they have one year to let you help them catch up... Don't get crazy at their first answer and ask for another a week later ; else you gotta think family first..

    Don't try to fix it all at once...since you do many MVAs, perhaps start by getting MVA procedures and trained and polished..if you can get a crack crew running smooth, maybe it will be apparent to them how deficient they are in other areas.

    Try to stay positive, its all in the words you pick, remember it allways sounds 3 times worse on the recieving end.

    If they can't utilize their assets..well...

    Remember, with a vol dept. sometime you must reconsider griping over the not-terribly trained or attending memeber who has skils that they contriute, whether fund raising, administration, plumber, mechanic or electrician, their contribution cannot be denied when you don't have a line of people waiting to join.. Sometimes their free services are quite significant..
    Last edited by permaprobie; 08-23-2004 at 08:20 AM.

  4. #4
    Forum Member
    FyredUp's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 1999
    Rural Wisconsin, Retired from the burbs of Milwaukee


    I remain constantly amazed at people who come on here with problems in their fire depoartment and not only tell us their name but the name of the fire department they are a member of. While your complaints may be legititimate choosing to broadcast them here with no anonymity at all is questionable. Unless of course you are the only person in your town with the internet. May I ask what you think the reaction of those you seek to change will be when they find out you posted this here on the internet? Do you think they will go "Golly gee now that the whole world knows what he thinks he must be right so we'd better get right on changing." Or do you think they may just think you are a snot nosed kid who is a know it all?

    Don't misunderstand me, I believe that you feel there are problems and like most fire departments in this country there probably are problems. Asking questions of others is appropriate...publicly identifying yourself and your department here is probably not, at least under these circumstances.

    Good luck...I have a feel you are going to need it.


  5. #5
    MembersZone Subscriber
    mtnfireguy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 1999


    FyredUp.... this could very well be a case of an automatic tagline, not an intentional identification of himself or dept. I hope thats the case. Because even though we have the right to free speech the old cronies don't like dirty laundry being aired!


    Good luck, there are lots of resources available (sample sop's/policies and advice) Remember - the department didn't get this way overnight, nor will the issues be resolved overnight. Some changes can happen over the course of a few months, some will take years. Also, NFPA and ISO do not "mandate" anything. NFPA is a set of standards and ISO provides a document and if you meet the items in the document they give you points and lower rating.

    As others have said, be positive, don't burn any bridges and when you present ideas - make sure you have done your homework and can show the benefit. Also, using the "Cause NFPA, ISO, OSHA, The State, The Feds Said So" routine generally doesn't work well and puts people off. Show them that is will make things safer.

    Article you may want to look at
    Buckle Up, Slow Down, Arrive Alive
    "Everybody Goes Home"

    IACOJ 2003

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