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  1. #1
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    Default Professionals or not?

    A year or so ago the Paid department that is nearest mine attempted a takeover of our department unsuccessfuly! One of the things they cited was that we were not professionals! Now I had completely forgotten that until tonight when my brother told me that me and my department were not professionals. That statement absolutely offends me. I wanted to see what other peoples takes were on that. Do you consider you and youre fellow volunteers professionals, or not?
    The only true fear is fear itself!

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    I sincerely believe there are many professional Volunteer firefighters. If you are trained and able to respond and do so in a professional manner then I'd consider you a professional whether you are paid or not.
    Do you consider you and youre fellow volunteers professionals, or not?
    No, I do (did) not. Of course, if you say that out loud they call it slander and vote in favor of expelling you. Which is the reason I'm no longer a member of the volunteer fire department.
    Now I had completely forgotten that until tonight when my brother told me that me and my department were not professionals. That statement absolutely offends me.
    So next time he says that you need to tell him that. Brothers can be jerks just like anyone else. Just because you share the same mother doesn't mean you can't tell him to go to hell.
    Steve
    EMT/Security Officer

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    You can be professional at anything, with or without pay.
    Even the burger-flippers at McDonald's probably have some McWackers.

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    Default Professional or not

    If I were your, I would NOT want to be considered a "professional." If you look in a dictionary the word Professional literally means that you do it for "money." How short is your skirt? Do you stand on street corners?

    As volunteer you are a neighbor. You are a very healthy aspect of what good civilizations are composed of. You do not charge for risking your life, limbs and health.

    As a "professional" it is right that you be held accountable for your actions. It is right that someone should be able to sue you for your mistakes.

    As a volunteer such civil responsibility is obnoxious. Just think of what would happen if you volunteers did not volunteer. Just how much human road kill would you see on the roads. Just how fat would the fox, the coyote, and crow become.

    If your brother is a "professional" and says that you are not, tell him " you can bet your bippy I am not. And by the way would you like a coin changer for your birthday so that you can make change for those two dalliences you get involved in?"

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    Larry1Mball, get real......several points to counter your very obviously uneducated and very poorly thought-out post. Allow me to begin by posting the meaning of the word PROFESSIONAL as I copied-and-pasted from the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary:

    Main Entry: 1pro·fes·sion·al
    Pronunciation: pr&-'fesh-n&l, -'fe-sh&-n&l
    Function: adjective
    1 a : of, relating to, or characteristic of a profession b : engaged in one of the learned professions c (1) : characterized by or conforming to the technical or ethical standards of a profession (2) : exhibiting a courteous, conscientious, and generally businesslike manner in the workplace
    2 a : participating for gain or livelihood in an activity or field of endeavor often engaged in by amateurs b : having a particular profession as a permanent career c : engaged in by persons receiving financial return
    3 : following a line of conduct as though it were a profession

    - pro·fes·sion·al·ly adverb

    So, as we can see, from the first and second sub-meaning under title 1, " characterized by or conforming to the technical or ethical standards of a profession (2) : exhibiting a courteous, conscientious, and generally businesslike manner in the workplace", the main and commonly accepted meaning of the word PROFESSIONAL is not just that "you do it for money" as you like to say.

    I like to think that I am a professional firefighter in that I show up at my career station on time for work, ready to go, giving 100% at all times and always ready, willing and able. I maintain my career standards above and beyond what "minimal" standards call for. I am always courteous and respectful to my peers, officers, and members of the public which I serve.

    I like to think that I am a volunteer firefighter with a professional attitude, in that I attend training as often as I can. I am professional in that I give at my volunteer department as hard as I do at my career department. I attend training seminars and classes, not only to better myself, but to better my volunteer department as well; any information I learn while attending training can be relayed to my fellow volunteers through my being an instructor, and being able to PROFESSIONALLY return the information.

    I am professional in the course of being a volunteer firefighter by always looking neat, clean and well groomed while in the uniform of my volunteer department, out in public or while representing my organization. I am professional by seeing to it that any equipment that is used is properly cleaned, maintained and returned after I use it.


    If I were your, I would NOT want to be considered a "professional." If you look in a dictionary the word Professional literally means that you do it for "money." How short is your skirt? Do you stand on street corners?
    So.....Just because I happen to be a career firefighter, does that mean I am a prostitute? After all of the examples I gave above, if being the way that I have described means that I am a professional, well, I just guess I'll have to accept the fact that I am a professional.

    Let's take a look at one of the other moronic statements you made:

    As a "professional" it is right that you be held accountable for your actions. It is right that someone should be able to sue you for your mistakes.
    So...You think that just being a volunteer makes you inexcusable for your actions? You don't think that a volunteer department can be sued with any less speed and/or success than a career organization? I got news for you buddy- You better see the light at the end of the tunnel- Without mentioning any names or places, but several volunteer departments, their officers, and communities themselves (authorities having jurisdiction) all within a few hundred miles of where I reside; have all been SUCCESSFULLY sued by homeowners, propert owners, and insurance companies for, but not limited to, things like:
    -Loss of property,
    -Failure to act within PROFESSIONAL standards,
    -Loss of income,
    -Cost recoveries,

    and many other things. Two cases I can think of offhand, which were particularly interesting, were in one instance, a department was sued by an insurance carrier for the sum of the building and some of it's contents: the insurance carrier successfully fought that the volunteer department did not act properly by not acting within acceptable standards in water supply/fire attack. The other case was the same building: A renter within the building successfully sued for the cost of his vehicle and tools.

    REALITY BREAK: VOLUNTEERS CAN, HAVE, AND WILL CONTINUE TO BE SUED!

    So, do you still think that volunteers shouldnt be held accountable for their actions? You dont think, that a volunteer EMT or Paramedic should be held accountable to PROFESSIONAL standards?

    Heres another meaning of the word PROFESSIONAL:
    "2 a : participating for gain or livelihood in an activity or field of endeavor often engaged in by amateurs"

    Larry1Mball, it is of my professional belief that you could possibly one of these aforementioned "amateurs."

    Have a nice day, and be safe out there. I have to go now, my Pimp is telling me it's time to go do building inspections.
    "Loyalty Above all Else. Except Honor."

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    Default Re: Professional or not..warning: rant mode is ON!

    Originally posted by Larry1Mball
    If I were your, I would NOT want to be considered a "professional." If you look in a dictionary the word Professional literally means that you do it for "money." How short is your skirt? Do you stand on street corners?

    As volunteer you are a neighbor. You are a very healthy aspect of what good civilizations are composed of. You do not charge for risking your life, limbs and health.

    As a "professional" it is right that you be held accountable for your actions. It is right that someone should be able to sue you for your mistakes.

    As a volunteer such civil responsibility is obnoxious. Just think of what would happen if you volunteers did not volunteer. Just how much human road kill would you see on the roads. Just how fat would the fox, the coyote, and crow become.

    If your brother is a "professional" and says that you are not, tell him " you can bet your bippy I am not. And by the way would you like a coin changer for your birthday so that you can make change for those two dalliences you get involved in?"
    All I can say is "wow".

    Why don't you do a search on "Lairdsville". Never mind, I don't want you to strain the three brain cells (and I think I am being quite generous in my assessment) you have.

    A volunteer Assistant "chief" used live victims in a training burn, killing one of them and seriously injuring two others to the point they are 100% disabled. His "attorney" (another truly inspirational piece of work now in prison on drug charges)used the "he's a volunteer, you can't hold him to a professional standard" argument. He lost and did prison time ... albeit not enough to satisfy a lot of us here on the forums. I know a few volunteer firefighters that are true "professionals". If you do not consider yourself to be "professional"... then [size=huge]get the hell out of the fire service before you kill someone! Capishe?[/size]

    Okay...rant mode is off!
    Last edited by CaptainGonzo; 05-29-2005 at 08:13 PM.
    ‎"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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    I copied this from another FF forum.....pretty good read



    Career vs. Volunteer

    This has been a war fought in the fire service since the first career firefighter was hired over 100 years ago.
    This is not an editorial about which one is better.
    If you want my opinion, they both have their place.
    But lets move on past this.
    Let me throw this at you for reference:
    pro·fes·sion·al P Pronunciation Key (pr -f sh -n l)
    adj.
    1.
    a. Of, relating to, engaged in, or suitable for a profession: lawyers, doctors, and other professional people.
    b. Conforming to the standards of a profession: professional behavior.
    2. Engaging in a given activity as a source of livelihood or as a career: a professional writer.
    3. Performed by persons receiving pay: professional football.
    4. Having or showing great skill; expert: a professional repair job.

    n.
    1. A person following a profession, especially a learned profession.
    2. One who earns a living in a given or implied occupation: hired a professional to decorate the house.
    3. A skilled practitioner; an expert.

    When a firefighter joins a career fire department, he automatically becomes a “professional” firefighter. This doesn’t mean he/she acts in a professional manner, but by the definition that firefighter is a “professional”.
    When a career firefighter is hired and goes through whatever process of initial training required to meet the requirements of the department, that firefighter is put in a position. One of the requirements is to get trained and be the best firefighter he can be.
    That firefighter is expected to be able to do the job required of him and for the most part, that’s being a firefighter.
    Now a volunteer joins a volunteer department that person can never be a “professional” firefighter in one sense of the definition, but a volunteer can act as a “professional” firefighter.
    That’s the cool part about the English language, you can twist words around and change the definition to meet your objective, but I digress.
    Now what does it mean to be a volunteer? Many things to many people and that are a subject all to it. But what does it mean in the context of this story? Hard work!
    A volunteer firefighter must meet the minimum requirements of the State of South Carolina to be considered a firefighter.
    This is the 80-hour OSHA basic firefighter course. Due to the time restraints of the average volunteers work and family schedule, this course is split up over a month or longer. A couple nights a week, Saturdays and a Sunday thrown in here and there to meet the time and information requirements of the course.
    A written test, an 8 hour practical burn and if the student passes….hocus pocus they are a firefighter!
    In some cases this is all that will ever be expected of that person for the rest of the time they are a member of that department.
    That volunteer will want to be an officer, so they give a little extra and become popular with the membership and when elections come around, they are nominated for a Captains position. A couple years later, Assistant Chief and next they are Chief.
    During that time they may take another class or two, but they never take advantage of the opportunity of using the greatest resource in South Carolina, the South Carolina Fire Academy.
    Why don’t they use this resource?
    The answer varies, but in my experience it’s the peer pressure brought on by those in the volunteers own department.
    Most of this pressure comes from the officers, comments such as “you don’t need that class” or “that training won’t help you” or in some extreme cases when a firefighter goes out and gets training on his own he is repremanded by his chief and in some cases told he is a “pot stirrer” or a “trouble maker”.
    In my first couple years in the fire service, I had a chief just like that. He would constantly play down the need for training and nothing more than the minimum was all he wanted.
    One day I witnessed a cardiac arrest and I had to stand there proudly displaying my fire department tee shirt while I watched 2 people in the crowd go to his aid and perform CPR.
    Someone looked at me and asked why I wasn’t doing anything, my reply was that I wasn’t trained to do CPR.
    That stuck with me and when the next chance I got, I asked the chief why we didn’t have CPR training. His answer was simply “you are a firefighter, all you need to do is fight fire”
    It was apparent to me that this guy wasn’t looking out for the best interest of me, the other firefighters under his leadership and the public in general.
    Luckily for me a friend told me that his department had some openings and would I be interested in joining. I listened to him tell about their training, the calls they ran and about the people who were members. I was hooked.
    I was intimidated at first, their station and equipment was much nicer than what I was used too and the people really knew their stuff.
    It didn’t take long to figure out that the bar was set rather high in this department and you were either exceeding expectations or you were out the door.
    Attending training was like a competition in this department. I never went to a training class alone, sometimes there were more people from my department in the class than anyone else.
    The one thing that impressed me most is the officers and especially the chiefs were taking classes also.
    I had the opportunity to attend a training class with one of our chiefs. I took the opportunity to ask him some questions about training.
    His reply was “ In this business whether you are paid or volunteer, the learning curve never stops. Training and experience are like slides in a projector in your head. When you arrive on a scene those slides start clicking until one pops up that closely resembles what you are seeing at the moment. Then your training and experience kick in.
    Now you can go though your career with no slides or tons of slides, but one thing is for sure, you can quickly identify those with little to no slides”
    Thanks Greg!
    He was right, the more education and experience I got, the more comfortable I became in making decisions. Some were good, some were bad, but I could justify my decision to the chief and learned from my mistakes.
    The most interesting thing was it did not take long to arrive on a scene and immediately pick out which firefighters or which officers knew their stuff or which ones didn’t have a clue.
    Give you a clue on this….3 firefighters and a chief trying to raise a 35-foot extension ladder with the tip on the ground and the heel in the air….
    You got it, not many slides there.
    So this brings me to the point where I need to get to my point, otherwise I have lost you as a reader.
    For a volunteer to be a “professional” acting firefighter, he must achieve the credentials of what is considered “professional”. This can mean meeting the NFPA standard for Professional Firefighter Qualifications for starters.
    The difficult thing about being a volunteer, especially in some of our more rural areas, is the fact that you don’t run calls everyday. Sometimes it could be 2-3 weeks before you ever get around to the station.
    A drill once a month is your required training and that is it.
    The lack of experience (call volume) + lack of training (1152 and a monthly drill) does not meet the expectations of what a “professional” volunteer firefighter should be.
    To achieve any chance of being considered “professional”, we as volunteers must do more than our career counter parts to even begin to consider ourselves near their level.
    Every third day our career counter parts come to work and perform their duties. They must know the ins and outs of their assigned duty and must be proficient in performing the task. If they don’t, the team fails and someone in the end may lose his or her job or worse their life.
    If a volunteer fails to perform proficiently during an emergency the old “well they are just volunteers” statement is thrown out and everyone goes back to doing what they were doing.
    As a volunteer you must stay active and educated. Ask yourself a few questions.
    1. When was the last time I went to the station and spent some time going through the inventory of the trucks? Do I know where everything is and how it operates?
    2. When was the last time I threw a ladder?
    3. When was the last time I folded and unfolded a salvage cover?
    4. When was the last time I read the operating instructions for any piece of equipment?
    5. When was the last time I drove around the fire district? Did I see any changes?
    6. When was the last time I read my Essentials manual?
    7. When was the last time I practiced any of the skills I learned in my basic firefighter class?

    If you answered never or its been a while then you are not maintaining a “professional” skill level as a firefighter.
    The fire scene or emergency call is not the time to play “hide and go seek” with equipment on your apparatus, find out that the ladder halyard is dry rotted or that you don’t know how to start a piece of equipment.
    Why are career firefighters seemingly better? Repetition.
    When I worked shifts, I did the same thing over and over every third day. Truck inventory, operate equipment, study maps and check equipment operation. After that…train, train, train!
    I had to know where things were and how they operated. If I had to fumble around in the dark at 3 o’clock in the morning trying to get a fan started, the teamwork fell apart. I failed, the team failed and the department failed.
    End result was someone was going to be doing a lot of explaining to the chief on what happened and I would be at the bottom of the hill waiting on the ball to roll over me.
    And if I was the officer on shift, I was expected to make sure that didn’t happen again.
    Unless you go to the station every couple of days and do the same thing, you will never become proficient in your job. And that is what firefighting is..A job.
    It takes hard work and dedication to be a firefighter. Volunteer firefighters must work that much harder.
    Instead of looking at the pictures in Firehouse Magazine, read the training articles.
    Instead of sitting around the station hanging out cutting jokes, practice some skills.
    Instead of going to the SC Firemen’s convention to look at trucks, get a deal on a leather helmet and spend time in bars and strip clubs, go to the training sessions that are offered.
    Being a volunteer is rewarding. Firefighting, in the simplest terms, is not overly complicated. Physically demanding yes, complicated no. But there are many things that a firefighter needs to know how to do and do them well.
    Training and experience is what build the skills, repetition hones the skills.
    The time will be to late for all this when someone’s life is on the line and you fail.
    If you don’t take it seriously, then it is a hobby and hobbyist get people injured or killed and there is no room for hobbyist in the fire service!

  8. #8
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    Default Volunteers Professionals or not

    It appears that I stuck a burr in the saddle of at least two of you.
    To Duff I would explain that my posting reflected a response to the attitude that a volunteer is not a professional. This was expressed by a paid fireman. What I heard him saying is that a volunteer is not as qualified or as skillfull a paid firefighter who is, after all, a professional. So my analgy of a short skirt and a coin changer.

    In my experience volunteers are every bit as effective as a paid "professional."

    But being a volunteer is of a higher order. The volunteer risks life, limb and time for FREE. He/she even takes a lot of time for training an updates, not just for fire, but for emergency medical service FOR FREE. In Nebraska they are trained rather well.

    And Meester Duff, sir, when you quote Webster, please do it all. You left out the section that says that the profesional does it for gain. It is the persons profession, the way to make a gainful living. All this stuff about performance, education and demeaner really pertains to attitude, committment and ability. Things that a volunteer might just excel in. But he/she is still a volunteer and should not be held civilly liable anymore than a Good Samaritan Doctor fortuitously arriveing on the scene and performing life saving skills "gratuitously." No, Meester Duff, you do not have to look it up, Gratuitous means FREE. Just like what a volunteer does time and time again.

    Oh, Captain Gonzo, it appears that you need to know the difference between Criminal Liability and Civil Liability. I will let you look that up. Your volunteer captain was guilty of criminal liability, that is why he was sentenced to prision.

    I do not know the state where this happened, but my guess is that the deceased were covered by workers compensation. Normally that is the sole means of recovery for the injured and their heirs. There is a possibility of additional recovery under the Employers LIability section of the WC policy, but success hers is about as rare as hens teeth.

    By the way, one or two or three career mane were killed in a similar exercise in Boulder Co a few years ago. What happened to the person responsible for that? Do you know?

    Let me apologize to the career firefighters who read this list. I like them, I need them, and they perform wonders, just as do the Volunteers.

    What follows is the text of a news letter I am distributing. I would like to see the volunteers in my state armour plated from civil law suits just as is any Good Samaritan who performs life or property saving actions for free.

    "THE RISK OF GOODNESS"

    emergency services is as old as mankind itself. It is the history of neighbors helping neighbors when trouble strikes. It is the history of savage man becoming civilized. It is the very concept of civilization itself.
    As a volunteer in the fire or emergency medical services, you are carrying on this tradition of neighbors helping neighbors. You are continuing and fulfilling a very important tradition. Paid personnel cannot do these things with the same basic impact on society that volunteers can. Volunteers are neighbors helping neighbors. Paid personnel are just that paid employees.
    So what? Where am I going with this?
    We are going to explore the Risk of Goodness. Just what is the Risk of Goodness?
    The Risk of Goodness is the amount of LEGAL risk that a helping neighbor should be exposed to. In other words, you as a helping neighbor, for what reasons should someone be able to sue you if something goes wrong, or someone thinks something has gone wrong due to your responsibility?
    The reason for this discussion is necessary because the definition of neighbor has grown significantly. These “neighbors’ may live hundreds of miles away and be people and or corporations. How much more Risk should you endure, beyond the risk of life and limb?? Isn’t this enough for the Risk of Goodness?

    "YOUR NEW NEIGHBORS"

    border busy highways. You are frequently called out to emergencies on these roads. Many of these “neighbors” are from miles away. Sometimes they sue because they believe that they have been mistreated, or they need money to pay their bills from the incident and would like to prove that you have some responsibility so they can get money from your district.
    Then some of their health care providers will bring a claim in injured persons name hoping to be reimbursed by your unit for your “neighborly” actions
    Think about this. What do you owe these people? Nothing! Your district and you could decide to not respond to any of these of calls and just let the undertaker do it.
    But your civility and neighborliness will not allow this. What is the solution

    "INCIDENTS"

    wife, rolled his car. The volunteer unit was at the scene within 10 minutes. The driver was conscious and alert, claimed to be alone. He was transported to the hospital. Thirty minutes later, his wife was found in the weeds.
    Result — lawsuit for $7,000,000. Result - dismissed, finally, by the Nebraska Supreme Court.
    Grass fire next to I 80, 18 volunteers fighting fire. Semi truck slows down because of smoke and a car rear ends him, then another car rear ends the first.
    Attorney made a demand (since withdrawn) for damages to the first car. Reason”
    Our volunteers should have stationed someone on the highway, telling drivers that they could not see in the smoke
    .A remote First Responder unit responds to a child in life threatening trouble. The ambulance is coming but it is about 20 minutes away.
    The unit decides to transport to a spot to meet the ambulance. They get there and ambulance is still 10 minutes away so they take the child and frantic mother direct to the hospital, life saved—but In violation of law.

    "SO"

    Where is the beef? No volunteer was successfully sued, were they? What is my issue.
    In the first case, the issue drug on for six years. There were fourteen scared volunteers, because they were named in the suit. Some of them even dropped out of the volunteer service saying the risk was just not worth it.
    Then consider the time off work giving depositions, and the travel they had to make to do this. Sure the insurance company pays these things, but still this causes a lot of problems.
    Incident number 2, vanished in a puff of smoke, but had the attorney been just a little less intelligent, he might have pushed the issue just like the first issue. Both of these issues were silly . Incident number 3, though, might have resulted in a problem. Why?
    This unit, acting with neighborly concern, acted outside it’s scope of practice. Under Nebraska EMS law this makes them, and their volunteers, subject to civil damages.
    Some of you will say, well that’s all right. But I think it is repugnant


    "GOOD SAMARITAN"

    25-21,186 Emergency care at scene of emergency; persons relieved of civil liability, when.
    No person who renders emergency care at the scene of an accident or other emergency gratuitously, shall be held liable for any civil damages as a result of any act or omission by such person in rendering the emergency care or as a result of any act or failure to act to provide or arrange for medical treatment or care for the injured person.

    How many of you think that this applies to you? It does, but not while on duty!
    You are still performing gratuitously And at the risk of your health and life, plus being a neighbor, but there are issues for which you can be sued! Does this seem right?
    We will look at some of these issues next

    "RISK AND SOLUTION"

    held civilly liable?
    EMS — 1. Actions outside of your scope of practice. 2 willful, wanton, and grossly negligent actions. 3. Incorrect divulging of patient data. Actions not in Good Faith. 4. Acting as an EMT or such, without being “On Duty” (71-584) ( my take on this.)
    Firefighters are subject to being sued for willful wanton misconduct & gross negligence. What is wrong with this? There does not seem to be a clear definition of these concepts.
    Further both of you can be subject to claims presented by artful attorneys for just about anything.
    Look again at the definition of a Good Samaritan. Why does that statute not cover you while you are acting “neighborly” as part of your unit? Why should you and your citizens be exposed to the threat of lawsuits from the myriad of people you help on the busy highways from other areas?
    You are a neighbor, your unit and governmental entity are also “neighbors.” If you decided not to exist where would these people be?
    For sure there would be a lot more ROAD KILL for the crows and coyotes.
    Join with me and demand that the state legislature grant to you and your governmental entity, Good Samaritan status.
    You are at risk, life and limb, when you make a response, why should someone be able to sue you?
    Last edited by Larry1Mball; 05-30-2005 at 12:30 AM.

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    Default Re: Re: Professional or not..warning: rant mode is ON!

    Originally posted by CaptainGonzo


    All I can say is "wow".

    Why don't you do a search on "Lairdsville". Never mind, I don't want you to strain the three brain cells (and I think I am being quite generous in my assessment) you have.

    A volunteer Assistant "chief" used live victims in a training burn, killing one of them and seriously injuring two others to the point they are 100% disabled. His "attorney" (another truly inspirational piece of work now in prison on drug charges)used the "he's a volunteer, you can't hold him to a professional standard" argument. He lost and did prison time ... albeit not enough to satisfy a lot of us here on the forums. I know a few volunteer firefighters that are true "professionals". If you do not consider yourself to be "professional"... then [size=huge]get the hell out of the fire service before you kill someone! Capishe?[/size]

    Okay...rant mode is off!
    Cap, that's volunteer Assistant NEIGHBOR.

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    Default

    Posted by the MBall

    Join with me and demand that the state legislature grant to you and your governmental entity, Good Samaritan status.
    You are at risk, life and limb, when you make a response, why should someone be able to sue you?
    Gross negligence.
    Dereliction of duty.
    Malfeasance.
    Incompetence.
    Abandonment.

    How's that for starters?

    Well trained, professional departments, whether they be career, call or volunteer who stay current with laws, tools, techniques and innovation and who use ICS and document everything are less likely to be sued than those who do not.

    By the way... I'm one of "those paid guys..." I took the exams, physicals, CPAT and got on "da job" in 1981. Got my EMT certification in '82 and have climbed the career ladder to where I am today... without "prostituting myself" as you stated in your initial post.
    Last edited by CaptainGonzo; 05-30-2005 at 08:38 AM.
    ‎"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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    Default Volunteers Professional or not?

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Join with me and demand that the state legislature grant to you and your governmental entity, Good Samaritan status.
    You are at risk, life and limb, when you make a response, why should someone be able to sue you?
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    One carreer firefighter responds with these reasons for volunteers to be sued

    Gross negligence.
    Dereliction of duty.
    Malfeasance.
    Incompetence.
    Abandonment.

    Gross Negligence and willful and wanton misconduct are somewhat hard to define in court. Those instances in which they are, will best be defined as criminal acts, in my opinion. I am not trying to armor plate the vounteer from criminal liability.

    Dereliction of duty?? How do you mean this? What DUTY does a volunteer have? What does he/she have in the way of obligation to the public. They are neighbors responding gratuitously to an emergency putting their lives on the line for no gain. Where is the obligation

    Misfeasance, malfeasance, nonfeasance, are the three terms this respondent would like to make the volunteer liable for. Then abandonment, and incompetance, why? Generally, under the various Good Samaritan laws around the country, a Good Sam - whether he/she is a Doctor, Paid or volunteer Para Medic off duty, or just a dumb untrained citizen, is immune.

    In fact, in Nebraska, a Good Sam is even immune to gross negilgence, will and wanton misconduct. I would bet elsewhere also.

    So what is the difference between a Good Sam and a volunteer on duty? Both do it for free.

    Incidently I notice that when I cut and pasted the text from the newsletter, that the first line in each section is missing. If anyone is interested in the complete newsletter, pictures and all, let me know and I will post one of my email addresses and you can write for it. I tried several times yesterday to post it here and there is no way that I could do it

    Larry Ball

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    Oh we're going to have with this guy.

    If you are a "professional", you have to be held to a certain standard of care. If you immunize a volunteer fire fighter from civil liability, you are essentially undoing decades of progress and telling the volunteer that it is 1950 and you can do whatever the hell you want.

    It makes no difference what your pay scale is. If you signed up for the job, you have a responsibility to do the job the proper and professional way. Your citizens pay for and are entitled to a professional response to a fire emergency-even if they are volunteer.

    And there is no truth whatever that a volunteer is a "higher calling". (I am a 27 year volunteer). Fire fighters are fire fighters whether they are paid or not. There is no less honor in a brother or sister who takes a pay check and devotes their life to this profession. Some of the greatest fire service leaders and teachers we have were "paid guys". Let me throw out a few names: Brannigan, Dunn, Downey, Goldfelder, Carter...should I keep going?

    You know something ball, it has been a long time since someone came on here advocating the dumbing down of the volunteer fire service. Hopefully, you will dry up and blow away like the others.

    PS: Answer me truthfully, you're a lawyer, right?

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    Default Re: Volunteers Professional or not?

    Originally posted by Larry1Mball
    -
    Join with me and demand that the state legislature grant to you and your governmental entity, Good Samaritan status.
    You are at risk, life and limb, when you make a response, why should someone be able to sue you?


    So what is the difference between a Good Sam and a volunteer on duty? Both do it for free.

    Larry Ball
    There's a big difference. When a neighbor goes to help a neighbor in time of crisis, the Good Samaritan law applies because this person who is not responding as part of a public entity is trying to help and should not be placed at risk of liability. However, when you become a part of a fire department, rescue squad, what have you, you are now the professional rescuer ...paid, volunteer, doesn't make a difference. Your organization has the responsibility to provide you with the appropriate training to respond to emergencies, and you have the responsibility to perform within the scope of your training.

    We don't just get to slap the name "Fire Department" on our big red truck for grins and giggles....the name means something, and the public (who paid for the truck, most likely) has the right to expect that the people responding in it will be capable of performing their job once they arrive. This "Aw shucks we just some good ole' boys tryin' to help" mentality is what is holding the volunteer fire service back in many areas.

    Once you sign your name on that dotted line, you are a part of the fire department. A higher standard applies to you than to the average Joe on the street who just stops to lend a hand. Anyone who thinks that a different standard should apply is fooling themselves. In our respective service areas,we are THE fire department, and our public couldn't care less what our pay status is....they expect us be capable of performing to a certain standard....we should not claim the title if we are unwilling to accept the responsibility.
    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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    Default Volunteers Professional or not

    Situation #1

    It is 5:45 am. A person rolls their car in a very remote section of the state 4 miles from town. Citizen on cell phone dials 911, and 10 minutes later your unit complete with a rescue vehicle and ambulance are on the scene. The driver of the car is on the ground and quickly found. Your people pick him up and while he is being secured in the gurney he is asked his name, address and telephone number three times. He gives the same answer each time. He is aware of what is going on.

    Are you alone? Yes, he responds. There is no apparent evidence to the contrary, so you rush him to the nearest hospital. Another ambulance from another town is also there, but, since the driver was alone they leave.

    Before I forget. The driver was asked what he was doing there so early in the morning (he is about 50 miles from home).

    I was having a fight with my stinking wife and am out here to gool off, he responds.

    The remaining volunteers at the site are looking for a license plate from the car. Thirty minutes later they found his wife, in the weeds, across a dry creek. She is in the hospital 1/2 hour later, but permanently disabled.

    later it is alleged by her that they were indeed having a fight and the hubby let go of the wheel and attacked her, thus causing the accident.

    The amount of the claim in court was $7,000,000 eventually. After about 6 years of worry and three levels of court proceedings the volunteers and their entities were dismissed from the suit. But it cause hardship on them in the form of stress, and time from work.

    They did NOTHING wrong. They were not incompetant, derelict of duty nor did they malfease, misfease, or non fease. Why should they have been involved in a law suit? The courts eventually agreed that they should not have been, but they were.

    Situation #2

    18 volunteers turn out for a grass fire in another remote part of the state. The fire is nead the interstate. Smoke is wafting across the road. There is a three vehicle pile up.

    The attorney for one of the drivers makes a demand for damages allegeing that this group of firefighters had a duity to post traffic control people on the interstate to warn drivers of impaired vision in the smoke. Duh?

    First, our volunteers do not have police authority -- a requirement to be obligated to do such things, Second -- these are volunteers and directing traffic on the interstate is very dangerous. Are they obligated to give or risk their lifes to educate the public about vision problems?

    Why should it be allowed to sue them?

    #3. Another remote area of the state (very rural ranch country). Mother calls 911, my child is sick, very sick. The doc ssys he has to get to the hospital immediatly (40 miles away) The rescue unit is not licensed for transport --- and in fact -- the only EMT's or First Responders to anser the call are 3 who are in training. What do you do?

    They had contacted a neighboring squad licensed to transport and agreed to transport the patient and his mother to a spot on the highway 20 miles away. When they got there the ambulance was still 10 minutes out so the took the child to the hospital themselves.

    Fortunately the child lived. But if not -- should they be sued? The were responding to the frantic appeals of the mother and I think there own good sense. Should they be sued?

    What about it? If a ordinary neighor, owning a van, made the transport (perhaps even with an EMT license) made the transport, they are armour plated from suit by the Good Samaritan Act, why not our volunteers?

    This is not an attempt to dumb down anything. I should think that most volunteers would be offended by that remark. They are doing what they do out of their sense of civic duty, not because of fear of lawsuits. Wake up and analyse the situation.

    One more point, there is an insurance firm in Indiana that specializes in insuring race tracks. Many volunteer units and volunteers will attend these events to provide emergency services in the case of need.

    This insurance company requires the volunteer to sign waivers of liability holding the track owners and all others harmless for injuries to themselves, the volunteers. Further they are required to sign an assumption of liability taking upon themselves the responsibility for their actions

    If any of you are doing this DO NOT. IF YOU DO YOUR OWN INSURANCE will NOT cover you. What you are doing is providing the track with insurance from your own bank account. This is another abuse of volunteers.

    Larry 3Brain Cell Ball :-)

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    Ok Larry Balls, what about THESE scenerios?

    1. Volunteer Paramedic arrives at the scene of a serious MVA- Patient is administered Morphine for extreme pain later dies from said morphine, which patient is allergic to- and was even wearing one of those wrist-pendants that indicates so. Additionally, family members who know of the patients medical history, were on location and were conscious, alert and oriented x3. They could have been questioned by said Medic, had he attempted to perform a medical history interview.

    You dont think the Medic should be held Grossly Negligent, and should have to pay that man's family the monetary value of his salary, not to mention loss of companionship????


    2. Volunteer EMT removing a patient from an automobile which was in an accident- all indicators point to a severe front end collision, patient states he was not wearing a seatbelt, and very obviously bounced off the windshield. Volunteer EMT who is in charge, does absolutely NO spinal immobilization whatsoever, and as a result, patient is permanently disabled.

    You dont think that EMT's *** should be in the grinder?

    Ok, what about this one?

    3. Fire in a commercial building, 100x100. Fire Wall down the center. Half the building well involved upon arrival, and impinging upon the unburned side. Volunteer Fire Chief orders one or two 3" supply lines to be laid from a hydrant (very obviously not enough water) when there are plentiful amounts of water and a mutual aid company on the scene with LDH........In addition to this, Volunteer Fire Chief takes no actions whatsoever to have companies perform an interior attack- instead has water poured in from the outside.....NOR does he have the roof opened, or a trenchcut opened along the fire wall to check for extension.

    Insurance Company for the property wants the Fire Chief, the Town, and the Fire Company's insurance carrier to pay them for the building, the contents, and the other associated costs, such as lost wages for the employees, etc.

    You dont think this chief should be held responsible?

    Career or Volunteer.......Any person described in these situations SHOULD be held responsible!
    "Loyalty Above all Else. Except Honor."

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    Default Volunteers Professionals or Not

    Chief LeBlanc has made a good response setting forth the current beliefs on our subject -- very clearly.

    Thank you Chief, I would like to start with this one --

    Once you sign your name on that dotted line, you are a part of the fire department. A higher standard applies to you than to the average Joe on the street who just stops to lend a hand. Anyone who thinks that a different standard should apply is fooling themselves. In our respective service areas,we are THE fire department, and our public couldn't care less what our pay status is....they expect us be capable of performing to a certain standard....we should not claim the title if we are unwilling to accept the responsibility
    [B]

    A couple of comments here, I have been doing what I do for 15 years. When I started the average volunteer unit was 30 to 32 members in our state. As the regulations begin to mount, the service has been depopulated. The number averages between 18 to 20 now.

    There is still a lot of public out there that pays taxes, and have expectations to receive, but they won't volunteer. Funny thing, our volunteers pay the same tax rates, and their expection is to give and not receive.

    In their giving,(the volunteers) they give their time. Isn't there and old saying "Time is money?" Seems like their taxes are higher than the public who is expecting to receive a lot from their discounted tax rate.

    The volunteers give their time also in training and maintenance of that precious equipment that the public and the volunteer both contributed to. That training and maintenance time is also worth MONEY. MONEY that the general public does not pay.

    In the volunteers giving, they sometimes give their lives, their limbs, and their health. This plus their time, and tax money.

    Let's see, what is that expectatious public giving? A very small tax assessment for the protection of their lives and property.

    Have you ever heard the saying "Things that are free are worth it?"
    Seems like a large and growing share of the genaral public believe this. What the volunteers do for free is not worth much, but what the GP gives in taxes entitles them to a large share of say in demanding services from their voluntary slaves.

    Chief, you had a good response. I have saved it and may respond further. Have to get to work right now.

    Have a good holiday. I like you and all the others on this board will remember the fallen this day for the sacrifice they made for us, whether they be carreer or volunteer.

    Larry Ball

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    Default Volunteers Professionals or not

    FWDbuff

    Your points are worth an answer, which I will do, but first I would prefer that you respond to mine first.

    Thanks

    Larry

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    Default Another Bob Moran in the making...

    You know, I think George knocked the ball out of the park with one. Notice LarryBalls used the same scenarios in his postings... much like the way a certain "jailbird laywer from Rome, New York" did when he was on his "fishing expedition" for the Alan Baird trial.

    Try as you will, Lawrence.. you are going to lose this one...
    ‎"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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    Default Volunteers Professionals or not

    Captain Gonz

    Used the same sequence of events as used in the newsletter cuts, because the leading lines in the first post were not clear AND because no one has chosen to deal with them straight forward.

    Why not you? I may lose, but I don't think so. The respondent with the three new situations will get a response from me -- be patient, but I would like some argument on my situations. I think that we might get somewhere this way.

    And I am sure you agree that the good of the fire/ems service is important. The questions being dealt with here are at the heart fo the good and continuance of the volunteer portion of this service.

    Larry Ball

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    OK, let's look at your examples...

    Situation #1 (wife of driver found 30 minutes later in the weeds). You say they were eventually found to have done nothing wrong. Good, I'm glad to hear it, and I'm sure that was the case. But just because you did nothing wrong does not prevent someone from suing you! In America's litigeous society, anybody can sue for any reason whatsoever...or for no reason. It's up to the courts to decide if the suit has merit. Seems like in this case, they did...it just took a while.

    Substitute "paid firefighters" for "volunteers" in this scenario...Why should one group be exempt from a suit, based solely on pay status? They are both there to do the same job, they did it to the best of their ability with the information available, they got sued despite having done nothing wrong. Their pay status is irrellevant.

    Situation #2 (smoke from grass fire causes an interstate pile-up) First off, you state "volunteers have no police authority". Please quit using the word "volunteers" that way...you're implying that somehow the "volunteers" are less accountable than if they'd be paid. They are the FIRE DEPARTMENT, dammit! They are FIREFIGHTERS! Within their jurisdiction they are THE fire department, and as such have the same authorities and responsibilities as their paid counterparts.

    That being said, I don't know of very many jurisdictions where the fire department would not have the authority to shut down the highway in that circumstance. The lack of visibility poses a hazard, placing the public at risk. We have the authority to do what we can to minimize that risk. Notice I did not say "direct traffic"....we can put our big red truck across the highway and shut it down. Would you allow the public to continue driving through a chlorine release because "these are volunteers and directing traffic on the highway is very dangerous"? No, you deny entry to keep the public from going in harm's way. If the police show up and have a problem with it, fine, let them take the responsibility. Until then I'll err on the side of caution and block that road.

    Situation #3 (child transported by rescue squad) They are very lucky the child lived, because if it hadn't they have a HEAP of liability in this case....to wit:

    The rescue unit is not licensed for transport --- and in fact -- the only EMT's or First Responders to anser the call are 3 who are in training. What do you do?

    They have not completed their training...what are they doing responding to medical emergencies? If anything had happened to that child, the lawyers would be all over this one...They should not have responded to the call, and their fire department should not have allowed them to respond to that call. Even if they did EVERYTHING RIGHT, they are NOT yet qualified. If no one had responded, oh well, that's the chance a community takes when it chooses not to staff its fire department.

    Secondly, the squad is not licensed to transport. Yes, a Good Samaritan could have loaded the kid up and transported in a POV, but a trained responder, paid or not, should know that he is not allowed to do that.

    This scenario is not a good example because there was a positive outcome. In order to bring a lawsuit there must be damages...in this case, there were none, so the squad got away with sending uncertified responders to a medical emergency. Had the outcome been negative, a lawsuit would probably been filed and likely would have been successful.

    As heartless as it sounds,the right thing to do would have been not to respond to this call. If you respond to a call KNOWING that you do not possess the proper level of training (which they did), and transported a patient when they KNOW that they are not licensed to transport (which they did), the liability is squarely on their shoulders if anything goes wrong. Lawyers, juries, and grieving victims generally are not real sympathetic when you perform outside your scope of practice.
    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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    Default Volunteers Professional or not

    Chief LeBlanc, another great response, Thanks

    This thread was started by someone else over the issue about volunteers being professional or not. He had been given a response, locally, from a paid firefighter that I took as demeaning to the volunteer service.

    That said, there is a difference between Paid and volunteer -- they are both brave protectors of the public, though. The difference is that the Career firefighter is paid for what he does and the Volunteer PAYS for what he does. Both respond in the public's interest it is just that one pays for the privelege -- that is the volunteer. Not trying to start a war over this, just calling out a reality that is oft times overlooked. [B]The volunteer pays for his public service at least with his time. Both Career and Volunteer risk their lives, limbs, and health. The Career person though is paid for his/her service. Again NO OFFENSE intended.

    You said

    [I]This scenario is not a good example because there was a positive outcome. In order to bring a lawsuit there must be damages...in this case, there were none, so the squad got away with sending uncertified responders to a medical emergency. Had the outcome been negative, a lawsuit would probably been filed and likely would have been successful.

    As heartless as it sounds,the right thing to do would have been not to respond to this call. If you respond to a call KNOWING that you do not possess the proper level of training (which they did), and transported a patient when they KNOW that they are not licensed to transport (which they did), the liability is squarely on their shoulders if anything goes wrong. Lawyers, juries, and grieving victims generally are not real sympathetic when you perform outside your scope of practice.

    I agree that under the laws regarding Scope of Practice the best thing they could of done was to say to the mother, to bad, we are not coming. He may die, but that is your problem. The state insists that the undertaker can do a better job than we can, and hang up. After all the other service would have only taken mayb 45 minutes to get there and another 45 minutes to get to the hospital. That "Golden Hour" concept is fictional anyway, right?

    Question, since the public has an expectation of emergency services, what happens to the concept of NON FEASANCE in this case. Should not the public expect that when the pagers sounded that at least one licensed first responder would have answered the call? None did.

    Under your scenario, which I understand and agree with, wouldn't NONFEASANCE been sufficient grounds for a suit? Seems to me that it would under the theory that the public has a "right to expect."

    Your posts are good, Thanks again, you may not have noticed, but I am trying to think this trough, getting ready to approach our legislature.

    Larry 3 Brain Cell Ball

    (for the person that come up with this description, I should point out that he may be right -- I had two brain operations last month to remove a large hematoma from a fall on the ice in January -- I don't think I lost any grey matter, and the CAT scan showed that there was some in there -- well who knows. :-)0

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    Default Volunteer Forum > Professionals or not?

    Chief LaBlanc

    This post speaks to your second comment on my points

    [I]
    Situation #2 (smoke from grass fire causes an interstate pile-up) First off, you state "volunteers have no police authority". Please quit using the word "volunteers" that way...you're implying that somehow the "volunteers" are less accountable than if they'd be paid. They are the FIRE DEPARTMENT, dammit! They are FIREFIGHTERS! Within their jurisdiction they are THE fire department, and as such have the same authorities and responsibilities as their paid counterparts.

    That being said, I don't know of very many jurisdictions where the fire department would not have the authority to shut down the highway in that circumstance. The lack of visibility poses a hazard, placing the public at risk. We have the authority to do what we can to minimize that risk. Notice I did not say "direct traffic"....we can put our big red truck across the highway and shut it down. Would you allow the public to continue driving through a chlorine release because "these are volunteers and directing traffic on the highway is very dangerous"? No, you deny entry to keep the public from going in harm's way. If the police show up and have a problem with it, fine, let them take the responsibility. Until then I'll err on the side of caution and block that road.


    Chief, These people got 18 volunteers to come out and do a job. They did not come with the expection of needing to bring extra equipment to block the interstate, in fact, all of their equipment was being used to fight the wild fire, as was their volunteers. Wildfires can be a pretty demanding and dangerous business. Why should they withdraw men and material from line of duty of firefighting to block the interstate?

    Factually, there was no liability in this case and the attorney wisely withdrew his claim.

    But you are right, you can be sued for anything at anytime. That is the Crux of the whole matter. You cannot, this state, be sued under the Good Sam Statute.

    If a volunteer is sued a lot of time will be used giving depositions and other evidence required by the insurance company to defend. Most of the wages lost will be reimbursed by the insurance company. But bad relations at work for the time taken off, cannot be healed by the insurance company.

    Have you ever been personally sued? I have -- amount? $5,000,000. I got the papers (about an inch thick) served on me at the office. I took them home and at supper time, I gave them to my wife, saying, here honnee, somebody thinks I am worth something. Scare the wits out of her for awhile.

    Well there were 26 of us named including the mayor, city attorney, county attorney, police chief, county sheriff and a cast of others -- all stemming from a six month effort on my part to close down a drug house across the street from where I live. The sue --ee? An assitance city attorney that my actions caused to be fired.

    Six months in federal court and it was dismissed with prejudice -- but those six months were something else. Being a salesman, my time was not reimbursed.

    You say there is no diff between Paid and Vol. The difference is that the Paid are expected by their employer to cooperate in the investigate the defense of the suit. They are expected to take the time off required. That is NOT the case of the volunteer's employer, and it works a great hardship on the self employed volunteer and farmer. It is for these reasons that I am concentrating on the volunteer.

    Should the carreer personel be included? It would not offend me. They just need to get on the bandwagon and fight the political fight alongside

    Larry Ball

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    Question, since the public has an expectation of emergency services, what happens to the concept of NON FEASANCE in this case. Should not the public expect that when the pagers sounded that at least one licensed first responder would have answered the call? None did.
    Good point...had NO ONE responded, and the child died, yes, I would expect a lawsuit. And this is possibly the only circumstance where paid vs. volunteer might be a deciding factor in the suit. Since a volunteer department cannot always be sure who will be available, sometimes it is out of our control. If a paid department fails to respond to the same call, it's a different story, because there are people on duty. The volunteer department MAY be liable in this case if it can be proven that the department routinely misses calls due to lack of manpower, that it does not have enough medical personnel to handle calls, or that it is aware that it has a personnel problem and has done nothing to attempt to correct it (recruitment, etc.) But if it is an isolated case, tragic though it may be, the volunteer department could beat this one.

    The point I was trying to make was this: If there was no response due to having no trained personnel available, the department may be found liable, based upon the circumstances. However, if there IS a response by untrained people, both the department and the individuals may be found liable...the department for failing to provide adequate personnel to respond,and the individuals for responding to a call they had no business going to. From a standpoint of personal liability, I'd have to say not going would be the correct call.

    Again from the standpoint of personal liability, both paid and volunteer put themselves at equal risk when they choose to operate beyond the scope of their training...Actually, the paid guy is more at risk here...he can lose his job over it. It's highly unlikely I'll lose my job over something that happens in my volunteer fire department, unless I'm convicted of some criminal misconduct.
    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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    Memorial Day is to remember our brothers and sisters that made the ultimate sacrifice as citizen-warriors so we can express a difference of opinion in the land of the free.

    That means Larry Ball can call the 350,000 folks who decided to make a career out of firefighting prostitutes. I am offended at that statement.

    These threads always deteriorate into the “I am better than you” name-calling, with no changing of minds or behaviors. The situations or "fact examples" are inwardly focused to how WE feel about the situation.

    Let me take a different look at the community expectation of their fire service.

    On September 28, 1989, a VFD pumper (in a county with 100% volunteer firefighter coverage) responded with five firefighters to a reported vehicle fire. Despite local VFD regulations, the rig responded without a company or chief officer. The VFD chief also responded and, through radio traffic with the pumper, determined that they were without an officer. That may have been a contributing factor when the pumper drove into a southbound AMTRAK train at a rural railroad crossing.

    The pumper vaporized and the train derailed. The two firefighters in the cab of the rig were dismembered and one of the three firefighters riding the back step was so severely injured that initial triage made him a gray tag. In addition, 57 of the 399 occupants of the train were injured.

    Details of the incident are in FEMA Technical Report 48, here is the link: http://www.interfire.org/res_file/pdf/Tr-048.pdf

    It was a tragic event, regardless of the pay status of the firefighters. From 1977 to 1988 FEMA recorded seven railroad crossing incidents that killed nine firefighters.

    On September 29, 1989, AMTRAK representatives were meeting with the county executive, looking for at least a million dollars in reimbursement for damages caused by the accident. Local government said that the VFD was an independent entity that the county had no control over. The court case proceeded to the state supreme court where it was determined that the VFD was an agent of county government and the county shared the liability created by the accident. This case appeared in one of the Virginia bar exams in the mid-1990s.

    This was also an item used in the Virginia Fire Officer III curricula in the 1990’s to encourage the volunteer corporations to have some type of formal agreement with their local government outlining roles and responsibilities. The Virginia supreme court treated the volunteers in the same way it would if a county-owned pumper staffed with county employees crashed into the train.

    Many states and commonwealths consider volunteer firefighters as “employees” when it comes to worker compensation coverage, hostile workplace/harassment issues or liability from incidents that create death, injury or property damage. That means the SAME expectation of firefighter cooperation during an investigation or a legal proceeding - volunteer and career.

    Gonzo and others are referring to the death and disfigurement from a Lairdsville, New York training session run by a volunteer assistant chief who claimed no knowledge of NFPA 1403 (live fire training) standard. The assistant chief was convicted of criminally negligent homicide. I use it as a case study for a college company officer development program. Go to http://www.nvcc.edu/home/mward/FIR%2...3_Syllabus.htm

    Scroll down to the June 08 session. I have links to the NIOSH report, a one-year-later perspective from Firehouse magazine and related information.

    I am not picking on volunteers, when litigation is complete from a Florida training death of a career recruit it may replace the Lairdsville incident in FIR 293. Lairdsville is a landmark case because of the conviction of the person who was in charge of the training event.

    In other officer development classes the students look at the impact of three LODD deaths in one Washington State city fire department (federal judge removed the protection of sovereign immunity - generating $55 million in wrongful death lawsuits filed against individual fire department members) and a recruit death in Maryland. Both cases involve career firefighters.

    The public does not care if the responding firefighters are paid or volunteer. They expect a prompt and safe response by appropriately trained individuals with the tools and ability to mitigate the emergency incident. EVERY HOUR of EVERY DAY to EVERY AREA of the community.

    If that means hiring and training employees to deliver the service, then that is what will happen.

    It also means a CONTINUING TREND of lawsuits filed against municipalities, volunteer corporations and individuals who respond to emergency incidents.

    PS to Larry – a District of Columbia career firefighter (about four years employment) recently received a valor award for rescuing multiple occupants from an apartment fire. He also is a volunteer chief officer in his home community, a fourth generation member of a community fire station. Is he a prostitute?

    Mike Ward
    Last edited by MikeWard; 05-30-2005 at 04:40 PM.

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    LarryBall posted this.. note the "bolded" section

    That said, there is a difference between Paid and volunteer -- they are both brave protectors of the public, though. The difference is that the Career firefighter is paid for what he does and the Volunteer PAYS for what he does. Both respond in the public's interest it is just that one pays for the privelege -- that is the volunteer. Not trying to start a war over this, just calling out a reality that is oft times overlooked. The volunteer pays for his public service at least with his time. Both Career and Volunteer risk their lives, limbs, and health. The Career person though is paid for his/her service. Again NO OFFENSE intended.
    From his first post on the thread and the forums...

    Professional or not
    If I were your, I would NOT want to be considered a "professional." If you look in a dictionary the word Professional literally means that you do it for "money." How short is your skirt? Do you stand on street corners?

    As volunteer you are a neighbor. You are a very healthy aspect of what good civilizations are composed of. You do not charge for risking your life, limbs and health.

    As a "professional" it is right that you be held accountable for your actions. It is right that someone should be able to sue you for your mistakes.

    As a volunteer such civil responsibility is obnoxious. Just think of what would happen if you volunteers did not volunteer. Just how much human road kill would you see on the roads. Just how fat would the fox, the coyote, and crow become.

    If your brother is a "professional" and says that you are not, tell him " you can bet your bippy I am not. And by the way would you like a coin changer for your birthday so that you can make change for those two dalliences you get involved in?"
    For someone not trying to start a war...you fired the first salvoes and have been backpedalling ever since. Just remember... you don't bring a peashooter to a gunfight..and some of us have rather big guns and lots of ammo!

    As a career firefighter who lives in the community I work in, I pay a portion of my salary through my real estate taxes. I also work at the State Fire Academy, so through my state taxes, I pay a portion of my salary there, too.

    I chose this career, it has enabled my wife and I to own our share of the American Dream, send a kid off to college and enjoy life. I know quite a few volunteer firefighters/officers who also work for their communities in other capacities and are paid on a per call basis when they get called in. Some of them are paid a stipend to work a shift a week in the station... are they part time whores in your eyes?

    Your condescending attitude towards "professionals" whether they be career, paid call or volunteer is an insult to those who answer the call, and sometimes pay dearly. To paraphrasemy Brothers in the FDNY ...all give some....some give all.

    You want call my brother career, call and volunteer firefighters who consider themselves professionals and I prostitutes?

    Whatever floats your boat... bear in mind...I have been insulted by far, far better men than you.

    Just to let you know: this "hooker" spent most of the morning working with his brothers on a mutual aid call for a structural fire in a neighboring community... playing truckie and pulling ceilings!

    Mike and Chief Leblanc... thank you for your replies.
    Last edited by CaptainGonzo; 05-30-2005 at 05:40 PM.
    ‎"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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