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Thread: IAFF Membership

  1. #1
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    Default IAFF Membership

    As a member of one of the oldest locals in the country, Covington Kentucky Local 38, I have seen and been told of the many positive changes and protections afforded us by our membership.

    While I don't agree with every union stance, I am extremely grateful for my affiliation with the IAFF.

    This brings me to my question. This is something I have wrestled with for sometime, but I have finally reached my tolerance for this situation.

    There are many firefighters with whom I work who are affiliated with volunteer departments. They either volunteer or assume a part-time paid position with a volunteer department.

    I believe it is hypocritical to benefit from and argue for the benefits we receive as union members, while being affiliated in any way with a volunteer organization. I believe as a union member, one has an obligation to his or her brothers and sisters to ensure the sanctity of the union.

    I also have a real problem with volunteers assuming that they are our brothers and sisters. For the most part, I feel we have dedicated our lives and sacrificed many things to be paid, career firefighters and that those who volunteer should not be allowed to share that distinction.

    Finally, I feel that those union members who are associated with volunteer groups weaken our position when arguing for better federal funding or local considerations. I know there are some locals that do not allow this affiliation.

    I am looking for input regarding this matter.

    Capt. Terry
    Covington Local 38


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    Input this into your head.....


    This has been discussed over and over again. People can do what they want on their time off. Stop the madness, Harold Sh-tburger isn't God.
    Proud Right-Wing Extremist since 1992

    "Extreme Liberalism is a Mental Disorder"- Michael Savage

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    Originally posted by TillerMan25
    Input this into your head.....
    Yet another 'voice of reason'.
    Member IACOJ - Building crust and full of lust...

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    You know little man from KY, this retired volunteer has signed partitions for our carrer members in a large combination department for years to get things on the ballot. Every time I read something from a clown like you I wonder why I do it. I was going to post on the Michigan LODD thread, but you have made it very clear that I am not a brother and therefore not welcome.

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    You know "Chip," people like you are why the two communities (volunteer/paid) do not get along. And its not just from the paid guys, there are plenty of volunteers who spout the same rhetoric. It's all Bull$h!t. Let's distignuish between quality departments and sub-par departments, not paid vs. volunteer. We have a paid department next to us who runs terrible equipment, are understaffed and quite frankly do not often get the job done. If you aren't IAFF they wont call you for help. It's like they always have something to prove. On the other hand about 20 minutes from us is a large very busy city department who are a quality department and get the job done. They call QUALITY volunteers all the time and many of their FF's are volunteers. Say what you want about volunteer departments or paid departments, the fact of the matter is there are quality departments and FF's and there are substandard departments and FF's, lets not use a paycheck to measure the differences. Your life may someday depend on another firefighter, are you going to ask him if he's paid before you let him help you?

    Check out www.kentland33.com. Why don't you tell them they aren't qualified to be your brothers.

    People like you are dangerous to have around, who knows what effort you'll put in to help people who aren't paid firefighters.

    I represent my own views in this forum, not necesarily those of my department or any other affiliated organizations.

    www.palmerfire.org
    Last edited by Ladder27; 01-28-2005 at 11:28 AM.

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    Chip, I'll give you some input without getting angry here.

    This argument has been hashed out and rehashed several times. The way I see it is as follows. There are many PAID firefighters that I have worked with that I have no idea why they are in the fire service. They are clueless, ignorant, and dim-witted. There are many VOLUNTEER firefighters I have worked with who are competent and very good at what they do. It goes both ways, sure career guys train more on average, but this does not mean the world, after all, many volunteers hold more certifications than many career guys. Does this mean anything conclusively? To me yes, everyone is a brother (except the mutts) regardless of affiliation. I seem to be lost when you discuss the sacrifices made to be a career firefighter. Sure, I of all people am fully aware of the sacrifices made, but not too far from me, a vol in the suburbs gets out of his bed at home many nights a week to run a call, leaves his kids party for that AFA, even leaves his paying job, to do the same work as the careers, with no paycheck at the end of the day.

    That being said, I see the point of competition against the union being bad. However, I often consider that the first fire companies were all volunteer, and as certain areas progressed, it was discovered a different type of service would be required. I have no reason to believe that if city X's vol's don't make the cut, then provisions will be made to try the next step. Because this isn't happening everywhere, it means people are getting the job done, paid or volunteer. I see no conflict of interests there, especially when Lt. Smith volunteers his time off at home in a department with a $5k a year budget in a small town with no tax base. Is this really stopping the town from investing the millions annually in staffing its firehouses? The volunteers are not, the logistics are. Places get by with whatever they can afford to, and what is best for the citizen. What makes me crawl in my skin is when some union guys tell me that the best interest of the citizens must be at heart, so I should not help out a community (which I live in) that will NEVER be paid due to the logistics. The result? The small community suffers. If you think the vols are not true brothers, perhaps because they are backwards or have poor training and tactics, they have much to gain from your association. My least favorite (but valid) point is how many union ff's have non-union side jobs in unionized trades (electrical, construction, etc.) Aren't you hurting their union? Aren't you hurting their union everytime you fix that small electric problem in your neighbor's house instead of letting the union workers get to do their job?

    Like I said, I see both sides of the argument, but not every town can support a paid company. If you want an analogy, think of the volunteer world as an older, more imperfect brother. Maybe then, we can say we have dedicated our lives to firefighting, helped out a fd protecting 1k people, and made life a lot safer for those doing the same job, even if your handywork on the side is taking money away from their paying job.
    Last edited by orangehopeful; 01-22-2005 at 05:14 AM.

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    MembersZone Subscriber CrossBro1's Avatar
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    Unionwise we are not brothers or sisters. That said, we (more importantly) all perform the same job on the fireground and that is what makes us brothers and sisters.

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    To start off Im a career ff and also a volunteer in the community that I live in, I've noticed that some not all but some lose sight of why they got into the buisness. Its obviously not for the amount of money that we make, in saying that you can also live off of it but thats not why we all got into its to HELP THOSE IN NEED. just because I receive a paycheck from a fire dept. does not mean that I am to good to help someone in need, and to think you are is "as wrong as a football bat". I've noticed when you get into the politics of the union that is when you start to lose sight of that. Just keep this in mind paid or volunteer we all have the same common goals in mind, PROTECT LIFE AND PROPERTY...

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    Lightbulb

    Hey Vollies! How 'bout I come to your place of employment and volunteer to do YOUR job??? C'mon--I'm just tryin' to help...or get my rocks off......Who cares whose job I'm scabbing?

    No "brother" or "sister" of mine would ever volunteer to do my job thereby threatening my livelihood.

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    Hey Smokeeater95, ur about as bright as Chip, go figure.
    See if you had actually been around this Forum for any period of time you would see that it has been posted and posted again, Us Volunteers DONT WANT TO TAKE UR DISTRICT OR UR JOB. Often enough, we're hard pressed to take care of our own districts thanx to lack of Manpower and the list goes on. So why dont you get off ur high horse, because the only real difference is ur getting paid a salary to sit at the Firehouse, and I dont.
    IACOJ Rookie
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    What's an "ur" district and an "ur" job.

    I am a 23 year member of the IAFF. Do I agree with everything the IAFF does?

    No.

    I have no problem with those who want to volunteer in their own community, as long as it does interfere with a career firefighter position in that community, or if volunteering would impact a career department , ie., mutual aid from the VFD to the career department, as it would cause problems.

    Joe..it has become a problem in some areas where the career FD has had layoffs of personnel and they use the VFD's for mutual aid, ie., Lancaster Pennsylvania.

    The City of Hartford, Connecticut has a clause against volunteering in their contract with the Hartford Firefighters. They see it as protecting their investment in their personnel.
    ‎"The education of a firefighter and the continued education of a firefighter is what makes "real" firefighters. Continuous skill development is the core of progressive firefighting. We learn by doing and doing it again and again, both on the training ground and the fireground."
    Lt. Ray McCormack, FDNY

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    Since my post was largely ignored, Smoke eater, I (without taking sides) ask this question:

    Have you ever done electrical work/constuction work for a neighbor, just to help out? If you say yes, You are taking jobs away from my (blood) brothers' union. So how is this case different?

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    helluva point orange. i have been a volley for about eight years and have worked for a career fd for about six years. im a member of the iaff also. i can see their point in not wanting me to volunteer, but i think there are much more important issues for us that they need to be addressing than this one. they could start by supporting real leaders that run for office instead of which ever liberal happens to be on the ballot.

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    First, let me thank you for an intelligent response. I can tell you that I get this argument from both sides. I was expecting response from those who had written angry responses to yours, wasn't impatient for your reply. I was playing devil's advocate a bit too, I must admit.

    Much of my experience is different than yours. In my experience, the few times vols have been called in, everything works smoothly (as can be expected on M/A incidents). This is due in large part to a committment, both intended and unintended to train all to a common level. Vols and IAFF attend the same academy, and take the same classes. There has been a strong effort to have drilling together, additionally, many do work both sides of the coin. There is a difference, naturally. Everyday, at 1015 AM, drills are conducted in important areas- For good vol companies, it is once a week. This drilling has made a world of difference, but your analogy with the surgeon is lost in this case- If Ruralville (I know, I am very creative) has 1 fire every 5 years, the difference between paid and vol's experience level does not matter. And while the drills are enormously helpful, I think many will agree that this is a job learned by experience in actual incidents, for the most part.

    Without dragging this out any further, I will simply agree with you on one point- any public safety agency, police, or fire, paid or vol, that consequently falters in its mission to best serve the interests of the community needs to be disbanded immediately. And while we may differ in our opinions of what the best way to serve that community is, I can say that no matter creed, gender, or affiliation, all firefighters are "brothers."

    Living in a city, but hearing about rural issues, I just can't help but think what kind of staff would be on hand for a rural company that has to choose bunker gear that isn't torn up over used SCBA.
    Thank you for keeping this conversation civil, as I did with you- I know it is a very hot topic now (and always), but this goes to show cool and collected can get you a good conversation rather than a punch in the face ( and I know I've had enough of them!)

    One thought in passing- By me, the schedule for most departments is 4 days of work a week, avg 1 hr./day for drill. Does it matter that vols train once a week for avg 4 hrs? Trained to the same level, is it still a concern for IAFF (safety wise)?
    Last edited by orangehopeful; 01-25-2005 at 03:46 AM.

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    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.


    you would improve the argument supporting your position by responding with etiquette and mutual respect.
    "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.

    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.....

    The more I study and experience this dilemma the tougher it becomes to arise at a conclusion.
    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.

    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?
    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.

    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 also understand the complexities surrounding small rural departments.
    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).

    volunteers are willing to accept increased response times or quite frankly gamble with lives by responding with understaffed equipment and inadequate resources.
    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.

    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....

    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.
    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.

    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.....
    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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    should note that this forum is entitled “Career/Paid Firefighters Forum” Issues and discussion impacting paid personnel.
    Well, in case you didn't notice, not too many of your union brothers repsonded to your ridiculous post. It has been my experience over the last four years I have been posting on these forums, that most IAFF/Career Firefighters on here DON'T CARE about this subject. It has been discussed and discussed 100 times more....it's time to move on.

    And on a sidenote, unless you pay my AOL Bill or Own my Computer, don't tell me where to post, Tough Guy.
    Proud Right-Wing Extremist since 1992

    "Extreme Liberalism is a Mental Disorder"- Michael Savage

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    Chip,
    I understand what you are talking about. My thoughts on the matter are this:
    You can't stop someone from doing what they love , weather it's paid or volunteer. Like some readers, we have in our all career fire house, many guys that are on the job because they love it and many guys on the job because of the benefits. You will always have this. Before I got this job I was a volunteer. In that dept we have the a similar situation. You have guys that loved the job, trained as much or more than career guys and you had the other guys, that showed up when they wanted and stood outside and watched the fire pretending they knew what they were doing.
    Career guys will continue to do what they want weather they are paided or not, but, these guys have to remember how hard we worked to get them the benefits they enjoy every day. If these guys are hurt while volunteering on the side they stand a good chance of losing all of those benefits. I agree you could get hurt walking out to you car, but why take the chance at losing everything. Look at the firefighters from Fort Worth that died while volunteering. Last I heard their families lost all of their benefits like health insurance and retirement pay. Their wives were coming to union functions across the country speaking out about their loss. Why would you put your families through this.
    For the record, I am not against volunteers or career guys that volunteer.

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    Orange--No, I would reccommend my neighbor seek the services of a professional electrician--It's not my field and I wouldn't want to take Union jobs away!

    Capt. Gonzo--You are right. Again. Here, volun-queers are in place purely as a wedge between our career staff and PROPER STAFFING (NFPA 1710). It's hard to get rid of them because the town trustees and the chief see them as cheap (political) labor. We have had a heck of a time increasing our staffing and they certainly are not helping our case. I wish they'd just go away and volun-queer for any of the areas around us and just leave us alone. They should have more dignity than to be the goats for the trustees.

    PS: "UR" is idiot-ese for "your".

    Jus' tryin' to help.

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    This is always such an interesting topic. I really have no clue why it always turns into such a spitefull bunch of replies when 'discussed'.
    For the record, I work for a local that doesn't permit our member's to belong to any other department, whether it is paid, volly, or POC.
    I support this measure 100 %. I also happen to feel that the argument is very sound.
    We have in place in my state a heart/lung bill, as well as a presumptive cancer bill. Once you reach the mile stone of 10 years on the job, any heart disease as well as a list of cancers is automatically assumed to be a line-of-duty injury. This allows you to recieve a number of benefits should you be unable to return to your job as a firefighter, or should you die as a result of your illness. The compensation is awarded through the department you work for, and our union stance is that there is a potential for disputing which jurisdiction should be the payer if you fight fires in more than one jurisdiction. It's a fight that would be a useless one, a headache for what you are entitled to. I know there are many points to debate here with this stance, but if you only work for one department there is no issue.

    On another note for the vollies, how many of your department's only allow you to serve a single department? There are several in the area around me that have that requirement. I certainly don't think that that is unreasonable, especially if both departments are fairly close to one another.

    On another note, this is really a non-issue due to the fact that there is not one thing the IAFF can do to you if you decide to volunteer. You might get a letter telling you that you are 'being naughty', but that is really about it. I do however think that if you are a volunteer in a community that could afford a career job, and don't because they have volunteers in the numbers they need, some of which are IAFF members from other jurisdictions, I do believe you to be wrong in what you are doing. That is and does go against what a union stands for.
    If the jurisdiction would not have career staff either way, then there is not an issue.
    In the end you are accountable to your conscience. That is truly what you need to guide you in this decision making.

    This doesn't need to be an automatic jump as far down each other's throats as is often the case. We can all point out idiots who are volunteer as well as the other way around. We can all argue about who is busier, or gets more 'work'. It's weird though, I have always found that those who talk the most do the least.

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    Great post Jasper!

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