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  1. #1
    District Chief distchief60b's Avatar
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    Default Citrus County Fla--New Career Service Starts Today

    Citrus County Chronicle

    New paid firefighters start Monday
    By Amy Shannon

    A crew of 27 paid career firefighters are gearing up to make history Monday at a pinning ceremony signifying the dawn of a new era of 'round-the-clock coverage at the county's busiest fire stations.

    "This is a big step for Citrus County," Citrus County Fire Rescue Deputy Chief Ray Hardy said. "It's a big step any time you go from all-volunteer to a combination."

    The ceremony kicks off a two-week orientation, which serves as training for the 18 career firefighters and nine career captains before their full-time shifts begin April 18. The new hires will work 24 hours on-48 hours off shifts out of Inverness, Homosassa and Pine Ridge stations, Hardy said.

    Ranging in years of experience and age, the career firefighters were hired last month from a pool of 86 applicants. They represent a wide range of skill levels and backgrounds in the field.

    Hardy said 19 of the 27 are locals. All but two of the 27 have volunteer experience. The oldest is 40. The youngest is 20. Their firefighting experience levels extend from one or two years to 20-plus years.

    The move to create paid positions is the result of a recommendations dating back to 1986, and more recently, a 2002 study aimed at improving fire services.

    "The whole goal of this will be response time," Hardy said. "Our problem today is getting the trucks on scene."

    Hardy said the county's growth in recent years has increased call loads to the point where it's put a strain on the county's 200 volunteer firefighters ó many of whom also work full-time jobs.

    Hardy's hope is that full-time firefighters already at a station when calls come through can respond to emergencies faster than a volunteer, who must arrive at the station before responding to emergencies.

    "Right away you can wipe out five to six minutes," Hardy said about the convenience.

    Current average response times range between 12 to 15 minutes. The county's goal is to cut response times down to seven minutes in urban areas and 12 minutes in rural areas.

    On any particular day, each station will have two career firefighters and one career captain on duty.

    In between responding to emergencies, the career firefighters will be responsible for "pre-planning" of commercial buildings. This includes collecting and documenting information such as a building's emergency exits, water supply, structure, etc.

    The full-timers will also tackle the task of verifying specific routes provided by the agency's Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) system during an emergency.

    Citrus County Fire Rescue spokesman and volunteer coordinator Tom McLean said the need for volunteer firefighters, who play a vital role with the agency, will not dissipate with the arrival of new hires.

    For more information about becoming a volunteer firefighter, call McLean at 527-7621.
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  2. #2
    Early Adopter cozmosis's Avatar
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    Default Re: Citrus County Fla--New Career Service Starts Today

    Originally posted by captstanm1
    On any particular day, each station will have two career firefighters and one career captain on duty.
    Not if they are only hiring 27 firefighters. Three personnel on duty at three stations equals nine per shift. Nine on each of the three shifts is 27. Unless they plan to pay overtime out the wazoo, there will be plenty of two-man engine company days due to vacation and sick time.

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    Well knowing about this county helps alot, this is a neighbor county to me and 8 or 9 of our paid personnel went over there to work for them. I have some very good friends that went to work over there. They are opening more than 3 fire stations from what one of them was telling me. You could also ask the member on here that is from citrus county also about what is going on over there.

    These trucks that they are bringing up paid are also going to be BLS, not ALS.
    Last edited by fightn15; 04-04-2005 at 10:37 PM.

  4. #4
    District Chief distchief60b's Avatar
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    This is a start up and yes...they will be running two person engines a lot..... The orignial plan was for double that amount of people to staff 6 stations but it still would have only been 3 per station. The county commissioners cut it back....
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  5. #5
    District Chief distchief60b's Avatar
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    27 named full-time Citrus firefighters
    The men are the first salaried firefighters in the county, and more will be added as the budget allows.
    By JUSTIN GEORGE
    Published April 5, 2005

    -------------------------


    LECANTO - Twenty-seven firefighters were pinned with badges Monday morning, marking a new era in Citrus County.

    They are the county's first full-time firefighters, part of an initial wave that eventually will transform Citrus' volunteer force into one that relies mostly on salaried employees.

    In starched blue and white shirts and silver lapel pins bearing their names, the newly minted firefighters beamed proudly Monday as they stood around the Fire Training Center before an open house heralded their arrival.

    "Out of 80 some people," said Brian Claypool, 28, a Crystal River High School graduate who lives in Chassahowitzka, "I'm one of a small handful."

    The 27 men were chosen from among 86 applicants, which included one woman. Nineteen come from Citrus' own volunteer ranks, while the others came from Williston, Ocala, Marion County, the Villages and Hernando County fire squads. The new recruits are all state-certified firefighters licensed as paramedics or emergency medical technicians.

    After the 27, whose ages range between 20 and 47, were given their badges or "collar brass," they started two weeks of daily orientation meetings. Monday, they met with Human Resources officials. Today, they will get acquainted with stations and fire equipment. Wednesday, they will orient themselves with county maps. Thursday, they'll go over vehicle extrication and driving skills.

    It won't be until April 13 that the firefighters will be put through live burn training scenarios. On April 18, they will report for duty at their assigned stations.

    "I'm looking forward to the opportunity to come over here and advance myself and work with new people and a new department," said Capt. Keith Long, who worked as an Ocala firefighter for more than seven years before joining Citrus. "It's a real good vibe here. Everybody is looking to cooperate and provide a real good service."

    Citrus County is following a 10-year plan to convert its volunteer force of about 200 into a full-time unit supplemented by its current volunteers. Officials had hoped to hire 42 full-time firefighters this year but cut that number because of budget constraints.

    Once funding sources are found, county officials hope to increase the number of full-time firefighters they hire annually until all of Citrus' 22 stations and 10 districts are adequately staffed.

    This year, the additions make up about $800,000 of Fire Rescue's $2.69-million budget, Public Safety director Charles Poliseno said. Eighteen of the firefighters will make $27,000 a year. Nine others, tabbed as captains, will earn $32,000 a year.

    All 27 will be split among the Inverness, Homosassa and Pine Ridge stations. They will work in threes per shift, which will be 24 hours on and 48 hours off, ensuring that a full-time crew will always be on hand.

    Although the plan is to eventually make Citrus a full-time unit, county officials have repeatedly emphasized that they will continue to count on the same number of volunteers they have historically employed to bolster the full-timers.

    "We're always looking for more at every station," Fire Rescue spokesman Tom McLean said.

    To volunteer, contact McLean at 527-7621.

    --Justin George can be reached at 352 860-7309 or jgeorge@sptimes.com

    [Last modified April 5, 2005, 01:30:21]
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    District Chief distchief60b's Avatar
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    Citrus County Chronicle

    Fire volunteers optimistic about combo agency
    By Amy Shannon


    What do you get when you mix the services of 200 volunteer firefighters and 27 paid career firefighters?

    Throw in years of training and a dash of dedication, and county officials are hoping the equation equals improved fire services for Citrus County residents.

    "It's a huge step for Citrus County," said County Commissioner Joyce Valentino, who attended an open house for volunteer and career firefighters at the Fire Training Center Monday evening. "It's still a work in progress."

    The new hires are currently attending a two-week orientation before their full-time shifts begin April 18.

    Valentino said she's very interested to see just how much the move to hire around-the-clock personnel impacts the community, particularly in rural areas.

    She said county commissioners initially had concerns about whether the budget could support the $27,000-salaries of 18 career firefighters and the $32,000-salaries of nine career officers.

    But, now, "commissioners are confident that we will have the money in the budget," Valentino said.

    Fire Rescue Chief of Administration Stephen Rinaldi said the new hires' salaries and benefits will cost the agency $715,000 from their $2.96 million budget this year.

    But, when it comes down to why they do what they do, dollar figures aren't an issue, firefighters said.

    "We're all here for the same reason," said Joe Carney, a volunteer with 11 years of service at the Homosassa station. "I welcome the news. We can use the help in Sugarmill Woods."

    Pine Ridge volunteer firefighter Marlene Petellat said she's looking forward to the extra hands at her station during those "times when we have a lot of calls."

    "We should work together," Petellat said. "We'll help one another."

    Public Safety Director Charles Poliseno welcomed the crowd of volunteer firefighters and career firefighters, calling Monday a "very historic day for Citrus County."

    "It's the start of a bigger team for Citrus County," Poliseno said. "This is our team getting bigger."

    But, Fire Rescue officials are prepared for growing pains along the way.

    "Change is hard for anyone," said DeRosa volunteer Teresa Fletcher. "This is a good thing."

    Fletcher said she and her husband, Wayne, one of the new career officers, watched Monroe County Fire Rescue transition from an all-volunteer agency to a combination agency in 1998.

    "They were kind of leery of change," Fletcher said, who served as a Monroe County volunteer for 16 years. "But it went well. I think we're going to see the same thing here."

    Pine Ridge volunteer Ed Slezat, who has 18 years of service, said he's "not necessarily hesitant" about the change, but he's unsure how it will affect his responsibilities.

    "I'm just waiting to see what's going to happen," Slezat said. "It's probably a good thing for us."

    Fellow Pine Ridge volunteer Carvell Simpson, who has eight years of service, described the move to hire paid career firefighters as "something bound to happen" and he looks forward to improving services.

    "We welcome it," Simpson said. "It's just a matter of some personalities getting adjusted."
    09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
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  7. #7
    Senior Member Dalmatian90's Avatar
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    Combination departments are a good model in many areas!

    I wanted to say that so this isn't misconstrued.

    This story though is a good illustration of one of the challenges that occurs as you start to convert from volunteer to paid:

    The 27 men were chosen from among 86 applicants, which included one woman. Nineteen come from Citrus' own volunteer ranks

    19 means they just lost 10% of their volunteers. Not unmanageable by itself...but if they continue that rate for a couple more years, within 3 years you lose 1/3rd of your volunteers, and presumably those being hired are the "best and brightest" among the volunteers who desired to go paid. That rapid drain of brain & brawn can be difficult to overcome in the future.

    Not impossible, just a challenge to be prepared for! Basically, it's tough for the volunteer side to maintain and develop good leadership when their best firefighters keep getting hired over to the paid side of the operation.
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    District Chief distchief60b's Avatar
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    Good point Dal!

    What they do not tell you in the article is that a good number of their volunteers (remaining) are career firefighters in Hernando or Marion Counties to the south and west....
    09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
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  9. #9
    Senior Member NYI4LIFE's Avatar
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    I volunteer near Marion County and will be going to Citrus County Fire Academy on June 14! I know of 3-5 guys who will be going to Citrus!

  10. #10
    MembersZone Subscriber firepimp's Avatar
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    Well this thread makes me want to cry lol , I'm a volunteer for citrus county my station station 91 is going to be one of the stations that are going to be paid or whatever you would like to call it. I was one of the select few to go and test and I had a very good chance of being selected , well i woke up late and arrived 10 minutes late for the second day of testing the first day i did excelent on my written I was told. I was sent home very upset about this but it was my own fault and my own horrible dissapointment.

    I was talking with 2 of the new captains hired on by citrus which are good friends of mine and were also county volunteers , I was like that could be me with you guys as a joke , and one replied yes that so could have been you and im like I wouldnt have gotten hired anyways he told me I was on the list and had a job gaurunteed if I passed everything which made me feel so much even dumber for not wakeing up. Ill never know why i didnt wake up even after setting 5 alarm clocks.

    The tension is very high taking on paid guys , because alot of volunteers don't like the idea and some of us do , the main problem is that the volunteers have become kind of forgotten , when we need something done or when a new recruit was signing up to become a volunteer his paperwork took 3 months to get in , instead of the normal 1 week - 3 weeks period , why is this ??? Because they were to busy trying to get everything ready for the paid people.

    I have very happy with the people they selected for the paid positions alot of them are friends of mine and deserve the positions so much so Im very content with the situation. We do not have a chief of the county alls we have is a deputy chief who is running the show , and so far all that matters to him is the paid and not volunteer , but thats all we see maybe he does pull for the volunteer more than we think but everytime we turn around theres confrintation after confrintation.

    There is so much going on right now I cant explain everything and the feelings being passed around one bad thing about the paid guys which isnt anyones fault but is brought up about volunteers becomeing paid which takes away from the volunteer force is that , District 3 had about 26 members alot no response for months at a time i transferred to a different district because I moved that made 25 then a few left so I think we were down to 19 , well 4 guys that were volunteers at district 3 became paid 2 were officers a high ranking captain and an assistant chief so there goes them. So now theyre down to lets say 15 members , and hardly any officers because noone there has full fire standards or officer training mainly just fire 1 training or a back in the day grandfather act. And district 3 gets anywhere from 90 - 130 calls a month and I used to sit up at the station waiting for others to respond when I was the only one ever at the station. Its very hard on some of the districts that this has happened.

    But all in all i congradulate everyone that was hired , and pray and hope the best that all this goes through after everything everyones been through to make it happen. Any questions on this matter or anything Im in the heart of it and will try and answer it fairly as possible because Im happy with it but I see how both sides are pulling at each other . I leave for iraq hopefully in 2 months waiting on my phone call which is scheduled april 18th.
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  11. #11
    MembersZone Subscriber firepimp's Avatar
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    Originally posted by captstanm1
    Good point Dal!

    What they do not tell you in the article is that a good number of their volunteers (remaining) are career firefighters in Hernando or Marion Counties to the south and west....
    We do not currently have any hernando county paid firefighters that volunteer for citrus county to my knowledge hernando countys union put pressure on them to leave , I know of 3 that have left.

    I am a whoo whoo or a wacker as you guys call it in the volunteer world , i make a huge amount of calls but my response time to the station is 25 seconds I live directly behind my stationa nd I also live with one of my safety officer so me and him respond all the time , unless Im working my other job as a bartender.

    I know the guy swe are getting at our station and Im so happy about it its going to be a great change but in others ees its going to bebad , we ( volunteers ) are offered to run shifts with the paid guys theyre putting in extra beds for volunteers who want to run with the paid personell which is great ill be there all the time , I need expierience and I know it I love to learn and they know it so its going ot be great. I work hard and study alot so my day will come to become a paid member on somewhere , to me this is not a paid or volunteer controversy we are all brothers and alot of the paid personell we know and they respect us some of the guys that were hired have over 10 years invested into the county so they knwo where we stand. Im very proud of citrus county and our services we do a damn good job , and other countys and fire service personell know it , our training requirements are higher than par and we have great volunteers in this county and I mean damn great . We were on a structure fire one day and made a beautiful stop and overhaul a few paid guys from another state walked up to us shook our hands and said we are some of the best firefighter stheyve ever seen and they congradulate us on doing and being our best. That felt really good I mean really good to not be labeled or seen as another wacker volunteer area.

    Anyways like Ive said any questions with anything post a comment or e-mail me at Romeo_4e@yahoo.com or I use AOL instant messanger as a holy communication device lol so hit me up on it my name for AIM is bROMEOd . But thanks all for posting this glad to see citrus county get some recognition.
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    Senior Member Dalmatian90's Avatar
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    the main problem is that the volunteers have become kind of forgotten

    One of most strongly held opinions is this:

    Volunteers have to be responsible for themselves and their future.

    The paid guys shouldn't be @ssholes out to get someone either. But the volunteer side of combination departments can't just sit there on their *** expecting to have stuff handed to them. They've got to keep up the attendance to calls, training, etc and have a good number of well-trained, well-performing volunteers to continue to be relevant.

    I know that can be tough if you're running into an administration that doesn't care. But if you can't get your house in order, you'll never make headway against the administration or make a positive impression on the city administration & political leaders who could make headway against the fire administrators on the issue.

    That loss of the best volunteers to the paid side is one of the key parts of the "slippery slope" that can happen. I've seen some strong combination departments, sometimes from a committment by the paid side's administration, more often because the volunteers where strong enough to withstand the hit and continue being strong; I've seen some where the volunteer side just petered away because they no longer had the critical mass to continue to recruit friends & family (let's face, 90% of volunteer fire service is recruitment of new members by existing members...not posters and 800 numbers and the odd lost sheep who wanders in); and I've seen some where shutting down the volunteer side became easy because all that was left was a bunch of chuckle-heads and anyone new they brought in was trained by chuckle-heads to be a chuckle-head and the City could look at them and go, "You know, there just not relevant anymore, are they?"

    I guess where I'm going with all this...one of the single biggest mistakes made is volunteer departments waiting until they've already failed to hire paid people. You've got to start adding paid staff when you see the problem on the horizon, but you're still a strong organization that can withstand the "transitional" stress.
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    Originally posted by captstanm1
    Good point Dal!

    What they do not tell you in the article is that a good number of their volunteers (remaining) are career firefighters in Hernando or Marion Counties to the south and west....
    Well working for Marion County is wonderful, all of the guys that volunteer for Citrus County that used to work for us quit and went over there all but one guy did. His dad made captain over in Citrus County.

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    District Chief distchief60b's Avatar
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    We do not currently have any hernando county paid firefighters that volunteer for citrus county to my knowledge hernando countys union put pressure on them to leave , I know of 3 that have left.
    The Chief of Inverness as well as the AC are Hernando County Firefighters and there are others also....... The union may be pressuring them to quit, but I think they are resisting because there is nothing the union can do about it as long as there is no union there. They (HC IAFF) are also pressuring Spring Hill to keep its firefighters who are reserves for the City of Brooksville from working there...


    Dal....excellent post....right on target....

    all of the guys that volunteer for Citrus County that used to work for us quit and went over there all but one guy did.
    fightn15...I do not know the names of who all left various departments, but I heard you got several good ones....and a few from Hernando County Fire as well.
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    MembersZone Subscriber firepimp's Avatar
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    Originally posted by captstanm1
    The Chief of Inverness as well as the AC are Hernando County Firefighters and there are others also....... The union may be pressuring them to quit, but I think they are resisting because there is nothing the union can do about it as long as there is no union there. They (HC IAFF) are also pressuring Spring Hill to keep its firefighters who are reserves for the City of Brooksville from working there...


    Dal....excellent post....right on target....

    fightn15...I do not know the names of who all left various departments, but I heard you got several good ones....and a few from Hernando County Fire as well.
    Inverness no longer has a chief they went with a single station captain , I know who your talking about and tod left he no longer is at inverness hes one of the ones I know that left , The AC left as well this happened about 2 months ago , also one of the hernando countys firefighters were just hired on by citrus so he left for that. Just giving you that update seems you didnt know about it.
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    District Chief distchief60b's Avatar
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    Interesting information...thanks firepimp.... I did not realize that Todd had left...nor the AC... I still think folks like Brian Dodson and few others area around... I knew at least one HCFR firefighter left to go to work for Citrus....

    It seems that the IAFF local in HC is being successful at terrorizing people into leaving their volunteer stations in small rural counties....(completely another subject.....so I will quit before I go offffffffffffff....)
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    55 Years & Still Rolling hwoods's Avatar
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    Thumbs down Huh??................

    Originally posted by Dalmatian90


    19 means they just lost 10% of their volunteers. Not unmanageable by itself...but if they continue that rate for a couple more years, within 3 years you lose 1/3rd of your volunteers, and presumably those being hired are the "best and brightest" among the volunteers who desired to go paid. That rapid drain of brain & brawn can be difficult to overcome in the future.
    Dal, we go back quite a ways, and I certainly have a good deal of respect for your opinion, But, I was suprised at this. Why are they losing anyone? I served as a Volunteer, including several terms as a Chief Officer, all the way thru the 26 years that I spent working as a career Firefighter. Yes, a few idiots tried to create problems, and they had their hands full, real quick. I did as I damned well wanted, and had no problems. I encourage anyone who wants to Volunteer to do so, regardless of what they do for a living. If the union gives out an ultimatum, Quit the union. Enough union members start putting that dues money back in their own pockets, management will have to adjust their thinking on that subject.
    Last edited by hwoods; 04-10-2005 at 05:56 PM.
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    District Chief distchief60b's Avatar
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    I encourage anyone who wants to Volunteer to do so, regardless of what they do for a living.
    100% behind you on that....

    The folks they are losing are the ones that are going career. I guess it relates more the the FLSA ruling on that issue as opposed to the IAFF...althought some of them are being impacted by that.
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  19. #19
    Senior Member Dalmatian90's Avatar
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    Why are they losing anyone?

    In general, because their interests become those of the full-timers they work with. Part of that is a natural human thing to be most attuned to those you work with everyday, not somebody you see coming to a meeting once a week.

    Doesn't have to be, and in case like yours, isn't. But often that's the way this turns out.

    First step in preventing it is to recognize it happens, and start working towards not allowing either side to slack off or feel disrespected.
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    MembersZone Subscriber firepimp's Avatar
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    The county is losing people in an aspect , more and more rookies are joinging yes but alot of them can't pass standards and have to leave the volunteer service and never think about becoming a firefighter again , others leave for careers or to become a career firefighter which happens everyday , and that leaves people like me to pick up slack and take charge of more things which I am fine with I belive myself as a great leader and follower , but there are so many in my stand point who think way beyond themselves and theyre capabilities that are getting put into these positions where senior members have left.

    Citrus county is an uneducated county in my eyes rural and redneck nothing bad with that at all , but some of these people's mentality around this place is horrible I don't feel like going into detail because I will end up sticking my foot in my mouth and be called a mutiny leader lol. But Im all for the changes the more paid and qualified guys we get the less some of these people placed into leadership that dont and cant lead get put where they need to be. We have some great volunteers I mean great guys with loads and loads of expieience common sense great moral and training cert. after training cert.

    It's just very ackward right now with these changes and how everything is so uncertain and noone knows anything it's like were playing everyhting by ear to see how it turns out hell the firefighters budget has only been approved for 6 months so maybe in 6 months we may be back to an all volunteer county who knows.
    " We are not extraordinary people , we are people caught in extraordinary situations. " Chapter 1 IFSTA Manual

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