1. #26
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    Maybe here in Conncticut it is different, but we hold our own FF1 & FF2 classes. We have several state certified Instructors within our department, some of which are also on the faculty of the state academy (90 miles away). We are just finishing up a FF1 class that we hosted that included members of 8 departments from 3 cities. I took my FF2 in one neighboring town, and my Instructor in another neighboring town. My FF1 was in my own department, and my Officer 1 was at another department in my city. We can also contract the state academy to run classes in our station but that is an expensive option. We get an annual calendar with all the contracted classes in the state so we can see if there are any classes being held near by. We also send out faxes to neighboring departments and towns if we have openings in a local class. There are ways to train volunteers locally, at least here in Connecticut.

    As for not needing all the segments of FF1, well I can tell you there are some that do not apply to a given department, however the idea of a basic firefighter course includes the basics most firefighting subjects. The examle of a town with no hydrants never needing to learn about hydrants is pure fantasy. My district has hydrants on all but three streets, but we run automatic aid into another district that has large unhydranted areas. As a result I have to know how to deploy the portable tanks and operate from a tanker. In this age of homeland security we are seeing more and more statewide and regional mutual aid plans, which holds the potential for out of area responses. I'm sure all the departments that went to NYC on 9/11/01 never really envisioned that they would be operating there until that day.

    Alan Shaw
    Belltown FD
    Stamford, CT

  2. #27
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    Originally posted by dmleblanc
    "Hey, I've got a life...I didn't want all this, I just wanted to help..."
    hey, you got a life? you want to learn how not to lose it while working as a firefighter? That should help put what I said in perspective

    as was mentioned before, NJ doesn't have a state academy, but rather serveral county academies, so there usually isn't a 90 mile drive to class. if your department has the resources and equipment (your own burn buildling, highrise tower, etc) to hold a class, then I would say go for it!!! you got state certified instructors, the courses all teach the same basics, and the hosting department has the proper resources to teach the class, then i say more power to you.

    but everyone should know the basics of firefighting operation. you might not use hydrants, but when you go mutual aid to an area that does, then your going to be happy that you know how to.
    If my basic HazMat training has taught me nothing else, it's that if you see a glowing green monkey running away from something, follow that monkey!

    FF/EMT/DBP

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    hey, you got a life? you want to learn how not to lose it while working as a firefighter? That should help put what I said in perspective
    Hey, Dr. Parasite, I hear ya....I get it. The point I'm making is, I believe that this is the reason we have so much turnover in the volunteer fire service. Some people who have walked into their local volunteer stations with the best intentions of "helping their community" have not stuck around long when they realized the level of commitment that would be required of them. You can volunteer at your local food bank or charity organization, and they'll be pleased if you can give a couple of hours once a month on a Saturday. Being a firefighter requires a much higher level of involvement, obviously. Some folks just aren't willing to commit to it, once they see what it really takes.

    I used to work with a guy who tried to volunteer with a neighboring department years ago. He lasted a couple of weeks. When they had to rack a couple hundred feet of hose after a drill one night, he decided that was enough, he only wanted to come when there was a fire. (I never liked that guy much anyway). What, did he think all that hose racks itself? I guess he thought they should be happy with his level of commitment.

    What it comes down to is this: Although I agree that everyone, including volunteers, should be trained to FF1 level, in our setting we'd lose too many good people if we made this a hard and fast requirement. I'm sure there are some people out there who are so gung-ho that they'd gladly attend an academy 2 or 3 nights a week for several months after work (if they have a job) to become a volunteer firefighter. God bless 'em. But most folks, no matter how much they'd like to help, won't make this type of commitment. After a few months of not being allowed to do any firefighting or respond to any calls because they're not FF1 qualified, they'll drop out.

    I know there are departments out there with long waiting lists to get on. If a new member can't commit 20 or so hours a week to attaining certification, fine, chuck him out the door and take the next guy on the list. We don't have that luxury, we have to hang on to everyone who comes through that door, if we can. We train 'em the best we can and when we feel they know enough to avoid doing something really stupid we let them start responding to calls. We make sure they are paired with an experienced member at fire scenes and they do a lot of their learning on the job. Is this the best way to make a firefighter? I don't think so. But it's what we have to work with, so we make the most of it.
    Chief Dwayne LeBlanc
    Paincourtville Volunteer Fire Department
    Paincourtville, LA

    "I have a dream. It's not a big dream, it's just a little dream. My dream — and I hope you don't find this too crazy — is that I would like the people of this community to feel that if, God forbid, there were a fire, calling the fire department would actually be a wise thing to do. You can't have people, if their houses are burning down, saying, 'Whatever you do, don't call the fire department!' That would be bad."
    — C.D. Bales, "Roxanne"

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    We had a trustee meeting last night and because there continues to be interest in our local fire department, we decided to increase our membership roster from 25 to 30 members.
    We certainly wouldn't be doing that if interest was diminishing.
    Fire departments are like kids; if you want to keep their interest, you have to give them a little attention every day.
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    Good to see some common sense comments to the required training issue. I started out almost 20 years as a student bunker during college with a combination dept serving a city/town with a population of about 60,000 with urban, suburban and rural parts of the district.

    Our basic training was 40 hours before the start of the school year. Since that time I've got my FF1/2, but clearly the initial 40 hrs that I had which was dept run was by far the best basic FF training I've had. As bunkers we were interior qualifed, but we had defined, and to a degree limited roles (ie no apparatus related operations, etc.) We spent the week focused on PPE, equipment, and the tasks required to perform those roles. Also included was reviewing and drilling on fairly rigid SOPs. The dept was highly disciplined, and combined with the SOPs and our training, we were pretty much ready to go out of the box and I never was put in a position that I thought was unsafe or that I wasn't prepared for. If we were working on our own (making a hydrant) or paired up with another bunker, we had the necessary training and drills during our basic class and along with the SOPs we could do our job. If we were working beyond that, then we were supervised, typically under a career officer or driver.

    I volunteer to take an engine down to the local county training center for a basic class and I can't believe the amount of time spent on some training topics - 3 hr evening session on hose loads??? Hose loads can be done OJT and stick with your department's loads. We are fairly well-staffed volunteer dept., but I think we have lost some recruits to the current initial training requirements. I don't think it necessarily has to be that way.

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    Here is an article for you! Hope it helps.


    Union's Volunteer Firemen Unavailable to Respond to Calls in Timely Manner
    By Sharon MacCorquodale, Union Missourian Editor
    11/17/2004
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    For the second time in two days, Union volunteer firefighters were unable to respond to a potentially life-threatening call.


    Subway Sandwiches on Highway 50 reported the smell of chemicals to the Union Fire Protection District Tuesday, Nov. 16, at 1:31 p.m., according to Board President Mike Fink.




    After three pages to the district's volunteer firefighters, at 1:31 p.m., 1:39 p.m. and 1:58 p.m., no one responded, Fink said.



    At 2:07 p.m., St. Clair Fire District was dispatched. They arrived on the scene in 10 minutes, he said.



    Early Monday morning, a tractor-trailer backed into a utility pole at Hall Brothers Lumber Company on Independence Drive, causing a transformer fire and a one-hour power outage for 1,341 customers, according to authorities.



    The district received the call at 5:30 a.m. and attempted to dispatch volunteer fire staff, said Deputy Chief Kevin Wissmann.



    "We tripped the tone four times and only two men were able to respond," said Wissmann. "We were able to arrive at the scene with Pumper 214 at 5:58 a.m. with just the two men. It took 20 minutes to get on the scene."



    St. Clair was on the scene in 10 minutes, according to Wissmann.



    "People need to know about this," said Fire District Board President Mike Fink. "If we had a paid staff on-site, we could have responded within six minutes."



    The problem, he explained, is that Union's all-volunteer firefighters work during the day, many in St. Louis, and, in many instances, cannot respond.



    St. Clair has a paid, on-call staff during the day.



    The fire district's 39-cent tax levy increase was defeated at the polls Tuesday, Nov. 2, for the third time.



    In April, voters defeated a 39-cent tax levy increase and a $2-million bond issue and, in August, a one-time 39-cent tax levy without a bond issue went down.



    "It's very disappointing," Fink said at the time. "I just can't seem to convey to the citizens the importance of this issue. I am very concerned about the safety of our citizens and the safety of our firefighters."



    Discussion is in progress on when to again ask voters for a tax levy increase to staff Station No. 1 with paid, on-call firefighters.



    "It's pretty evident we have to keep trying," said Fink. "We're just not sure when we will do it."









    ©Washington Missourian 2004


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  7. #32
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    The fire district's 39-cent tax levy increase was defeated at the polls Tuesday, Nov. 2, for the third time.
    I'll bet the owners, management, and employees of the Subway and Hall Brothers Lumber Company would vote for it today. Unfortunately, most of the people in this community (or any community) have not been affected personally by a fire. They are also likely blissfully unaware of the staffing problems of their fire department. The fire department can only receive the level of funding that the community is willing to pay.

    Fortunately, both of the above-mentioned calls were relatively minor in nature (an odor investigation and a power outage), and as such did not get much attention. But some day, this community will get "the big one"...Someone will die, or some very large or very important landmark will burn to the ground. Then there will be a hue and cry from every corner of the land, demanding to know why the fire department was unable to provide an adequate response. Then, MAYBE, they'll be willing to pay for the level of service that is needed.

    Another thing to consider...It appears that this department does have a mutual aid department that can respond in 10 minutes. I noticed that mutual aid was finally requested at 36 minutes and 28 minutes into these two calls. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not advocating that mutual aid will solve all their problems, but when you get no response should you wait half an hour before calling for help? This department needs to do some work in the recruiting and retention arena, but I think their dispatch has some work to do too. In our area, the standard practice is one page...wait one minute, page again...wait one minute...if still no response after two minutes, hit mutual aid. Better to get 'em rolling and cancel them if not needed than to waste 30 minutes paging 3, 4, 5, 6 times
    Chief Dwayne LeBlanc
    Paincourtville Volunteer Fire Department
    Paincourtville, LA

    "I have a dream. It's not a big dream, it's just a little dream. My dream — and I hope you don't find this too crazy — is that I would like the people of this community to feel that if, God forbid, there were a fire, calling the fire department would actually be a wise thing to do. You can't have people, if their houses are burning down, saying, 'Whatever you do, don't call the fire department!' That would be bad."
    — C.D. Bales, "Roxanne"

  8. #33
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    Here's an article in today's Sac Bee.

    Rural VFD losing members.
    Politics is like driving. To go forward select "D", to go backward select "R."

  9. #34
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    Default And here is one from Al Whitehead several years back.

    From the General President's Desk January/February 1999

    ALFRED K. WHITEHEAD





    More Communities Learning
    There is No Free Lunch

    It's time for those communities that still rely on volunteers to face the facts most of them can no longer get fire protection for free and even when they think it's free, it's usually not.
    Communities readily recognize that trash collection, water and sewer services and police protection all come with a cost to local taxpayers. For some time, many communities across the U.S. and Canada have resisted the logical need to put adequate fire protection on an equal footing with these other public services.
    Though volunteering has a long and honorable tradition, the fact remains that the practices of the past don't always work in the present. And this fact has become readily apparent to those who would, in another time, staff volunteer departments. Not a month goes by that a daily newspaper somewhere across the U.S. and Canada doesn't publish a story noting that it is getting harder and harder for local volunteer fire departments to recruit and retain volunteers.
    The stories always cite similar reasons for why people aren't volunteering: they are too busy with their work, their families and the pressures of everyday life to serve as volunteers; the training and the physical stamina required are too exhausting for those who can only give a fraction of their day to the job; the glamour of being a volunteer fire fighter quickly wears off after a few 2 a.m. alarms (followed by a full day of work at a regular job). As small towns grow larger and the number of alarms continues to increase, fewer people want to subject themselves to the dangers and rigors inherent in fire fighting.
    These newspaper stories are also beginning to focus on the serious problems faced by communities with volunteer departments. We have all seen news reports detailing the shortfalls: abnormally long response times that put lives and property in jeopardy; and inadequate staffing that leads to no response at all.
    In fact, the National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) admits that people who live in communities of less than 2,500 people are almost twice as likely to die in a fire as people living in larger communities served by professionals, and rural residents suffer more than twice the property loss from fire each year. New citizens are arriving in these towns and demanding the benefits of full-time fire protection that they had where they lived before.
    A recent front-page article in The Washington Post, headlined "Volunteer Firefighters Fading Into the Past," cited the shift from volunteer to professional fire fighters in many smaller communities across the country.
    The Post article quoted the lobbyist for the NVFC admitting that the volunteer fire service is in trouble. In the article, the volunteers spokesperson said the lack of volunteer staffing is a huge problem, and we're seeing it all over the country, and admitted, It's basically an unsafe situation for a lot of communities.
    With these serious problems becoming so prominent in communities with volunteer departments, citizens may begin to realize that their local politicians are taking a gamble. This may prompt some citizens to question why their community is willing to put their lives and property at risk, and they may learn that in some volunteer fire stations, the lights are on, but nobody is home.
    Often, citizens learn about the deficiencies of their volunteer fire department the hard way; when tragedy strikes and the volunteer response to the incident was limited or nonexistent.
    The Post article pointed to Prince William County, Virginia, where officials are slowly adding full-time professional fire fighters to its historically volunteer fire department. A recent report found that volunteer fire stations were often unstaffed, and that it took the fire department 18 minutes to respond to a fatal house fire.
    Obviously, there are some cases where volunteer departments don't have this problem, such as the Bethesda-Chevy Chase, Maryland, Rescue Squad, but they are few and far between. This is something the IAFF has been saying for years, but the volunteer chiefs have never admitted it before.

    Because they know their departments come up short, the NVFC and volunteer fire chiefs have fought hard to scuttle our Union's efforts for the NFPA to create a comprehensive standard to evaluate fire department deployment, staffing, and operations. And it is why they protested so strongly when the NFPA decided to establish a standard for professional, career fire departments without including the volunteers. The NFPA is now moving forward to put together a committee that will adopt meaningful standards to make fire departments more effective and protect the health and safety of professional fire fighters.
    Other factors are working against the volunteers, including the hidden costs of volunteer departments and the loss of professionals who volunteer in their hometowns. The Washington Post and other news media are beginning to look at the true cost of the volunteer fire service. It is not free. Today, most volunteers receive hourly, monthly, or annual cash payments, pensions, tax breaks, or other perks and benefits.
    For example, in Orange County, California, volunteers received $8 per hour for responding to calls until the end of 1998 when the county ended the payment program. Today, Orange County volunteers receive only $5 per call and most of them have dropped off the volunteer rolls.
    And many volunteer fire departments are losing some of their most highly trained fire fighters; professionals who work in one city but volunteer in their hometown on their days off. More cities and counties are outright prohibiting their professional fire fighters from volunteering, or are offsetting their pensions and benefits if they do volunteer and are injured. Their reasoning makes good sense. How can a city or county be expected to provide benefits under heart, lung, and cancer presumption laws when their professional fire fighters are volunteering for a neighboring jurisdiction that contributes nothing to their worker's compensation costs or pension plans? Many occupational diseases that strike professional fire fighters are the result of cumulative exposures to toxic substances on the fire ground and in other incidents. Professional fire fighters who volunteer are subjected to additional exposures that further jeopardize their health. This is only one of the reasons that the IAFF Constitution and IAFF policy opposes our members working as volunteers. While it is admirable that some of our members are willing to devote time to their local volunteer fire departments, it is a dangerous practice and it is not fair to the jurisdiction they regularly work for.
    I am not trying to demean the volunteers. Most of them are dedicated individuals who try their best. But I do believe it is time for communities; and those organizations that purport to represent volunteers; to come to terms with today's realities.
    In a perfect world, the butcher, the baker, and the candlestick maker would still live and work around the town square and would be available at a moment's notice to run to the local volunteer fire station and respond to a fire or other emergency. In a perfect world, volunteers would have the same training as professional fire fighters and show up in adequate numbers at every fire or other emergency incident in their communities. But the world is not perfect and that is not happening.
    Many fire chiefs admit privately that their volunteers don't want to spend the time necessary to train to the levels of professional fire fighters, and the dwindling number of active volunteers is going to decline further as more states and communities direct volunteers to meet the same requirements as professionals. As the demands and duties placed on fire departments continue to increase and become more complex, fewer volunteer fire departments are going to be able to provide an appropriate level of service. While the volunteer fire service has a rich history of tradition and service in this country that deserves recognition, times are changing. The shift will continue from volunteer to professional fire fighters because citizens will demand it and the trend will accelerate when community leaders finally admit that there is no free lunch.



    (c)1998 IAFF-Washington, DC http://www.iaff.org/
    Politics is like driving. To go forward select "D", to go backward select "R."

  10. #35
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    Thumbs down So?...............................

    Just what would anyone expect from the General President of the I.A.F.F, which position Mr. Whitehead held at that time. I don't see the I.A.F.F. out recruiting Volunteers, and I don't expect to. Communities that have those problems need to fix them. Period. Volunteering CAN be made into something worth spending your time on, but being protected by a Volunteer Fire/Rescue organization is not free, by any measure. More than a few states need to remove archaic laws that regulate Fire and Rescue Services. The Post above about the voters turning down a tax increase can't happen in my jurisdiction, and it shouldn't happen anywhere else. Our tax monies come from County Government's General Fund, which is where ALL revenue goes, and then is budgeted out again. I don't have to convince 500,000 voters that I need more money, just 10 politicians, who are working WITH us when we need something. Perfect? Of course not. Better than the alternatives? Damn right.
    Never use Force! Get a Bigger Hammer.
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  11. #36
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    You miss the point of both my posts.

    I will admit Whitehead has a professional slant in his commentary. His point, along with the link to the article in the SacBee state the same issue confronting VFD's. The time committment to remain current in training coupled with emergency responses are too time consuming for a significant part of the labor pool. Once upon a time in America people lived and worked in the same city. That isn't the case anymore. When you link training obligations to the hours worked plus commute times, prospective volunteers are going to choose to spend time with their families or other more relaxing activities. And while you believe that regulations should be lessened regarding VFD's, I argue just the opposite. I believe VFD's should be held to the same standards of training and skill level. I would like examples of your claim regarding archaic laws.

    Here in OC we had an extensive Paid Call program. It was discovered to be in violation of the FLSA. When it was forced to come into compliance with FLSA a majority of the volunteers quit. At some of the busier houses, 'volunteers' were making $30,000 a year. That number was impacted dramatically downward and as such few could afford to remain active.

    At the present time, the remants of the Paid Call still function in a support role. And it has manifested itself in both a 40% response rate and a turnover rate of 30% per year. If the program were being run by a private corporation it would have been axed long ago. It is being kept alive by dinosaurs who yearn for the good 'ole days at taxpayer expense. Elected officials actually. One of whom is still bitter and blames the professionals for taking away his volunteer BC status back in the 70's!!! Instead he pulls out the flag of Americana and demands that valuable taxpayer dollars be wasted on an anachronistic entity.

    No one is bashing the spirit of volunteerism. What is questioned is the continued viability of an effort that has outlived its usefullness. This might be more relevant in urban and suburban locales than rural areas.

    The last company that made buggy whips probably made the best buggy whips ever built. But the world had changed and no longer needed buggy whips. So it is with the volunteer ranks. The people who were able to fill its ranks are a dying breed. And communities that depended upon individuals to fill those ranks may have to adjust to the reality that a full time status is both necessary and inevitable.
    Politics is like driving. To go forward select "D", to go backward select "R."

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    Hey; I got a great idea.
    Let's pass a law that requires small communities to have full-time, paid departments if they cannot meet minimum staffing on their first out engine during a day time call!
    Am I being sarcastic? Of course I am.
    Communities will continue to roll the dice rather than have their cost for fire protection skyrocket with a paid department. I can see our village of 800 with a 15 person paid department. It would cost more than our entire village and district annual budget combined, then tripled.
    I don't see it happening.
    I think that once people get past all the selfish reasons that they have for NOT joining their volunteer fire department, volunteerism will be back. As a nation, we have placed entirely too much importance on recreation and not enough about community service. It's people too damned selfish to give up some of their time, plain and simple.
    There needs to be an overhaul of our values in order to get back to where we once were with regards to caring about our fellow human beings and helping to make our communities better places in which to live.
    Yeah, I know; it's pretty idealistic, but if we don't go out in our communities and set an example and make our organizations worth someone's time to join, then our numbers will continue to shrink, instead of grow.
    We don't have the problem NOW, but I expect it if we don't continue with what we are doing.
    CR
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    Originally posted by ChiefReason

    I think that once people get past all the selfish reasons that they have for NOT joining their volunteer fire department, volunteerism will be back. As a nation, we have placed entirely too much importance on recreation and not enough about community service. It's people too damned selfish to give up some of their time, plain and simple.
    AMEN!!!! AMEN!!!! AMEN!!!!

    I went to Catholic school for 12 years. That is how we ended our morning prayers every day.

    We have become a consumption driven society. And if popular culture is defined through the marketing I observe in the media there doesn't appear to be any changes happening soon.

    The simple fact is that people have very little 'some of their time' to give after the obligations of earning a living, raising a family, and having some recreation.

    And then there is the aspect of the duties performed by firefighters. While we all know there are thousands who get in line for few jobs, not everyone else is willing to do the duties of firefighters. Not everyone relishes the opportunity of running into burning buildings. And few people I know outside the fire service have any desire to perform EMS functions like pulling people out of cars or other predicaments when the victims are either covered in blood or in pieces.

    Those are the realities of our profession whether professional or volunteer.
    Politics is like driving. To go forward select "D", to go backward select "R."

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    i see some of the volunteerism diminshing locally, but thats cause there aren't that many people that like the chief and the way he became the chief. for the most part the people that are still with the department do it cause the community needs a fire dept. i think with some attitude changes or administrative changes we would have our rosters full again.
    Our Dept. is struggling with the same thing. There's a clique going on. Obviously I am not in the clique but that's ok. What is not OK is having my honest efforts dissed and being passed up for out of town training sessions. I volunteer because I want to; but the attitude around here sucks. I have been trying to do some team-building but I am finding it hard to keep going. I wouldn't be any happier if I quit so I'll keep going. There is some training in Feb. I'm not going to say anything. I'm going to foot the bill and get my butt down there. I think it shows incentive and oddly enough I thought that was a good thing... I'm not doing it necessarily for the dept; I'm doing it for me: my safety and my partner's safety.

    That is the problem with our Dept's low attendance and numbers; it's the management.

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