OK, Chip, what do you want? Do you really want "input regarding this matter", or are you just looking for some high-fives from your union buddies for putting us "scabs" in our place? Because it seems to me, the only "input" you're willing to accept is that which supports your position. If you truly wish to explore the issues at hand here, you should be willing to hear opinions from both sides of the fence, so to speak.
"Mutual" means from both sides, Chip. I don't see much (or any) respect for me and what I do coming from your side. Respect is not demanded, it is earned.
you would improve the argument supporting your position by responding with etiquette and mutual respect.
Now, that being said, I will attempt to address some of the issues you raise. But before I continue I must warn you, I AM A VOLUNTEER FIREFIGHTER. Since you view me as some sort of intruder in this thread, I feel it only fair to warn you so that you can stop reading now, add me to your "ignore" list, whatever. Elsewise, I will continue.....
It seems to me that you've already arrived at a conclusion, Chip. Volunteer firefighters are bad. There should not be any volunteer firefighters. Volunteer firefighters take union jobs. Volunteer firefighters are not as good as you. Volunteer firefighters do not have to sacrifice anything to do what they do. No matter how many years, how many fires, how much training, how much missed sleep, how many dollars raised to help the FDNY (paid) firefighters following 9/11, how much death and human misery we've seen, we will never be worthy of being considered your brother. That about sum it up? OK, just wanted to make sure I know where I stand.
The more I study and experience this dilemma the tougher it becomes to arise at a conclusion.
One basic flaw in your reasoning here, Chip...You're insinuating that if my volunteer department were magically changed overnight to a paid one, there would somehow be an inexplicable increase in the level of experience. Wrong. My department runs about 300 calls a year. If it were suddenly paid, they'd still run about 300 calls a year. That's just the community we operate in.
I also understand that there are many dedicated individuals in the volunteer service, but it all comes down to the bottom line. Numbers basically. If your child were sick and needed a reputable surgeon, would you take him to one that has done 1 or 10 or 20 surgeries or would you rather he or she see a doctor who has done 1000 surgeries?
In fact, this points out one of the reasons why off-duty firefighters are so highly valued in volunteer departments. Experience. Yes, I'd love to have a couple of guys on my department who run thousands of calls a year at their paid department. Their experience would be greatly respected (there's that word again), and our inexperienced members could learn a lot from them.
I really don't think you do, Chip. You anti-volly union guys seem to believe that every small-town fire department would be able to go paid if the stubborn volunteers would let go of some control. This is a big misconception. This community is not financially capable of supporting a paid department. When the community is no longer satisfied with the level of service we are providing, they have every right to demand a change. And if that time comes, they will also have the responsibility of ponying up the money (in the form of increased taxes) that it will take to support it. That just simply isn't going to happen any time soon (notice I didn't say never).
I also understand the complexities surrounding small rural departments.
If this department went paid, THEN you'd see understaffed equipment. Right now I can expect 15-20 guys to turn out for a structure fire. If we ever would go paid, don't think for a minute that they'd hire full engine companies manned to NFPA staffing standards. No, they'd put a couple of guys on, pat themselves on the back for what a great thing they did for the community, and then at the first structure fire wonder where all the firemen went when those 2 guys show up alone. I don't think that's an acceptable solution.
volunteers are willing to accept increased response times or quite frankly gamble with lives by responding with understaffed equipment and inadequate resources.
Of course, you could make it a combination department, with volunteers to supplement the manpower on the big calls. But then, you'd have to deal with volunteers again. Ah, problems, problems....
Again, you did say that you were looking for input. I think the more opinions you receive, from BOTH sides of the issue, the better off you will be. Unless, like I stated earlier, you are only looking for support for your preconcieved viewpoint. In that case, this whole thread is a waste of time, because you're already convinced that you are right in your thinking.
Finally, I’ll close by saying, that I embrace the concept of freedom of speech, but in this case those volunteers who responded, should note that this forum is entitled “Career/Paid Firefighters Forum” Issues and discussion impacting paid personnel. Once again volunteers infringing on the sanctity of the union. I promise not to infringe on you forum, maybe you could return the courtesy.
And by the way, I don't think anyone in the Volunteer forum would be offended by you "infringing" on it. On the contrary, we would welcome your input. This is, after all, a free forum. I didn't need a special password to get into the "paid" section.
Now, to cede a couple of points to you....Yes, I agree there are volunteer departments out there who should have gone paid a long time ago, either due to growth, call volume, lack of membership, or a whole host of other reasons. I say, if the community can afford it, a paid department is a better option than a volunteer, all other things being equal. But not all communities can afford it. In economically depressed rural areas, this is reality.
I can also see the concern with a paid firefighter volunteering in the same district he works in, or any other place where the union may have in interest. Sure, I can understand that the union is all about saving and creating union jobs. But there ain't no union jobs around here. No paid firefighting jobs in this parish (county to you yankees). When I first walked through that door, there were no paid firefighters, there have never been any paid firefighters, and there is currently no move or support for creating paid positions. So whose job am I taking?
Furthermore, as chief of this department, I want what's best for the department and the community. If the parish government (for we have no incorporated town here)were to approach me with a proposal to add paid staff, with the money to back it up, I'd be all ears. It would be a boost to our rating and our overall effectiveness. But it's not likely to happen any time in the near future (maybe even in my lifetime).
So Chip, please dismount your high horse and see that there's a whole world out there, some of which doesn't fit into your neat perception of how things ought to be. You don't know everyone's situation. I would not presume to tell you how your department should work, and I would expect the same courtesy. I would presume, however, to consider you a brother. I will assume that the same courtesy will not be extended to me. Well, I suppose I can live with that.....