1. #1
    Forum Member
    nmfire's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Location
    Maryland (DC Suburb)
    Posts
    5,738

    Default Housing costs forcing out the younger generation of volunteers. What to do?

    Here's a totally hypothetical situation for you to ponder.

    The cost of housing in this town is extreme. It's one of the most expensive towns to live in anywhere in the state. It is a great town. The education system is wonderful. The beaches are great. It's a great place to raise a family. The volunteer fire department obviously relies on people that live in this town. In the past, the young people often end up staying in town during and/or after college and this is where they called home for the rest of their lives. They remained active members of the FD throughout their adult life and still are. What is happening now is the current "younger generation" is not going to be able to afford to stay or come back. A house that used to cost $150-$200k now costs $400k and the propery taxes are basicly criminal. There is a $1k tax abatement for the FF's but really, it is a drop in the bucket. There are only a limited number of condominiums, all of which are on the high side as well and they are all in one disrict, far from the other end of town. There are basicly no apartments.

    Short of buying the neighboring lot and building our own FF's only condo complex or doubling the taxes to include a career FD, what kind of things can anyone suggest to help with this hypothetical problem?
    Even the burger-flippers at McDonald's probably have some McWackers.

  2. #2
    MembersZone Subscriber
    Halligan84's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 1999
    Location
    Blackwood NJ, USA
    Posts
    816

    Default

    Not really hypothetical, it spurred a change toward more career departments in 4 places that I can think of in our area. Big growth in all of the towns resulted in upscale housing and property values on the existing stock going up. I have heard of departments that bought a property to house vols but more have put in bunks to allow crews to sleep in or live in.

  3. #3
    MembersZone Subscriber

    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    Southern Ct
    Posts
    58

    Default NE Housing

    Where I live in Ct its the same problem. When I bought my house in 1998 for $423k, I thought I got screwed! Today the same house with no major renovation is worth over $925k!!!! Its insane, that being said we have been lucky to a decent number of new members since I joined. Fortunately our taxes are relatively low considering the property values. My taxes are about $4,600 a year, before our tax abatement.

    We are fortunate that we have quit a few guys that for the town who are around during the day. That combined with that fact that all 3 depts run mutual aid from 7-5 during the week we always get at least two trucks our for each call. We do not run EMS so we don't suffer the burnout that so many other depts do. EMS is run by the high school kids in town.

    On the bright side(not sure if its bright if you own a house) it looks like prices in the north east are coming off their highs and will prob drop some.

  4. #4
    Forum Member
    Bones42's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2001
    Location
    Pt. Beach, NJ
    Posts
    10,687

    Default

    nmfire, I just want to know when you came to visit my town and why you didn't stop in and say Hi?

    We get lots of our cops and teachers to join. In the summer, the teachers are off so they can answer calls, but the police are very busy and unable to. In winter, the opposite happens. We also have a few government employees, so they are usually very available.

    We also maintain a very strong Explorer post. In a high school with just over 400 students, we have about 25 that are active with the post. We know 1 or 2 of them are already looking to be hired as police in town (see above) so that helps.

    What happens when there aren't enough vols? 2 choices, pay people and/or regionalize. It may slow down and/or lessen your "response" but there really is no other choice.
    "This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?

  5. #5
    Forum Member
    nmfire's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Location
    Maryland (DC Suburb)
    Posts
    5,738

    Default

    Oh now c'mon guys. This is all hypothetical... yea right.

    I got really lucky in finding a condo that I could afford. It's outside our district so it's little bit longer drive but it's the best that I could do if I wanted to stay in town. Thankfully the taxes on the place are only $1300 minus $1000 abatement = $300/yr. Deals like what I found are just few and far between and still not even in our district.
    I'll believe the cost of housing is going down when I see it.

    FFCLTE32, sounds like Darien? At least my little town isn't the only only one with ludicrous real estate costs.
    Even the burger-flippers at McDonald's probably have some McWackers.

  6. #6
    Forum Member
    clancyxdogg's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Location
    SE Mass
    Posts
    256

    Default

    So the people in this community can spend $400,000 for a house and can afford to support a "wonderful" school system with tax dollars but won't support a fire dept.?

    Well, it has been my experience that communities generally have the amount of fire protection that they deserve.

  7. #7
    Forum Member
    nmfire's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Location
    Maryland (DC Suburb)
    Posts
    5,738

    Default

    Oh, the taxes support the fire department just fine. We get what we need are very well equiped. This is a matter of the members. It is really something that is just becoming an issue so I'm not going to blame the townspeople just yet.
    Even the burger-flippers at McDonald's probably have some McWackers.

  8. #8
    Forum Member
    clancyxdogg's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Location
    SE Mass
    Posts
    256

    Default

    If they supported the fire dept just fine, they would pay enough money to ensure an adequate amount of firefighters is available to extinguish a fire safely, and in a timely manner. Firefighters make up a fire dept., not equipment.

  9. #9
    Forum Member
    nmfire's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Location
    Maryland (DC Suburb)
    Posts
    5,738

    Default

    Well, like I said, this issue is literaly just being brought up and tossed around right now. It was never an issue on anybody's radar until the last month or so. Someone brought it up and it kinda clicked with a lot of people this could be a big problem very shortly. Especially since the current core of young people like myself are reaching the point of making a decision one way or another about staying or going. When your young, you don't think about housing and real estate costs until it hits you. It's hitting us.
    Even the burger-flippers at McDonald's probably have some McWackers.

  10. #10
    MembersZone Subscriber
    mcaldwell's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    Location
    Panorama, British Columbia, Canada
    Posts
    3,022

    Default

    We are going through the same thing right now. When I first moved here ten years ago, you could buy a small condo for $30,000, and a nice house for $100,000. Today that same condo is $100,000, and that home is $400,000. It's not going to stop anytime soon.

    Being a resort community, we also have a very tiny full-time population of less than 200 residents. Add to that another 200 transient kids who work the ski hill, and you have a very small pool to draw from.

    We are fortunate right now because many of the staff who arrived 10 years or so ago bought homes, and so can afford to stay as long as thier primary careers are progressing, and we have no shortage of new applicants right now. As those home owners slowly leave though, we have two problems. The long-term experience is leaving, and the new short-term applicants are all 19 year old kids with no experience, and no hope of buying/staying here for more than a year or two.

    We have already begun to compensate at higher financial levels than other departments in our region, and that helps with the members who need the second income to cover thier taxes, etc. We also manage to co-recruit a handful of experienced volleys through the resort's international hiring program, however that won't always be enough and I can foresee requiring F/T staff within the next ten years.

    Our call volume doesn't justify it just yet, and we have a big equipment and fire hall bill to pay off in the next ten years (2.2M), but ultimately that is the only long-term solution I can see.
    Never argue with an Idiot. They drag you down to their level, and then beat you with experience!

    IACOJ

  11. #11
    Forum Member

    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Posts
    67

    Default

    We have a similar problem, and ours is a community that tends not to have much in the way of rental properties. In some cases, where rentals HAVE become available, groups of 4-5 young firefighters have gotten together to rent a house so that they can stay here. Not just for the fire department, but because we live in a beautiful area with lots of outdoor sports. I guess another solution would be for the town/FD to purchase a house to rent to firefighters for a reasonable rate. This all supposes that these are young single firefighters, with no qualms about having room mates, but I've seen it happen.

    Our call volume just does not justify paid staff, no matter what the tax base.

  12. #12
    Forum Member

    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    Location
    New York
    Posts
    193

    Default

    tick,tock,tick,tock...........just counting the minutes until this turns into a paid/volley dabate.................

  13. #13
    Forum Member

    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    Nevada, TX, U-S-A!!
    Posts
    417

    Default

    make the police firemen too. HAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!

  14. #14
    MembersZone Subscriber

    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    Southern Ct
    Posts
    58

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by RadRob
    make the police firemen too. HAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!
    would at least give the cops something to do other than write residents speeding tickets!
    IACOJ Lt-Eng32ine

  15. #15
    Forum Member

    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Posts
    2

    Default I can relate

    I can relate to the issue of housing costs driving out younger volunteers. I had to move out of my first due area b/c there were NO rental properties except for houses that cost $1200/mo. Now I hardly run any calls. It kind of makes me sad b/c I wish I could be more involved, but I know that I can't live with my parents forever and sometimes life just forces you to change.

    My grandfather gave me some really down to earth advice once. He would say to me "You can't do it all." When it comes to being involved with a volunteer fire/rescue company and working 40 hours per week, this is very true.

  16. #16
    MembersZone Subscriber

    Join Date
    Jul 1999
    Location
    Flanders, NJ
    Posts
    13,537

    Default

    Put this debate into perspective....

    Imagine if the town fathers announced that they were going to save the taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars per year in taxes. The salaries of the garbage collection technicians are going up. Vehicles are more expensive to purchase and maintain. Disposal fees are on the rise. OSHA regs require more and more training for the members. As of today, we are eliminating the paid garbage collection service. All garbage collection would be provided by community volunteers.

    Imagine the outcry. "We demand full garbage service even it costs us alot in our taxes!"

    Imagine the same town fathers make the following announcement...

    It has been increasingly difficult for our volunteer FD to provide adequate service due to the difficulty in ensuring consistent manpower. The same is true with EMS. We feel that the lives of our citizens are very important. So we are going to institute career personnel to supplement our dedicated volunteers. Of course, we are going to have to increase taxes to do it.

    Imagine the outcry. "We demand that the volunteer fire service remain our primary life-saving service. No new taxes!"

    The moral of this story is that picking up garbage is more important to people than having the lives saved. The issue is not paod vs. volunteer. The issue id making the citizens realize that they get the quality of emergency services they are willing to pay for.

  17. #17
    MembersZone Subscriber
    DougVelting's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2004
    Posts
    101

    Default heres something

    When ever we get a new guy that joins up, he is given a homework assignment. That assignment being, Bring a friend down to join. Yeah sounds stupid, but it has worked this year. Its something we just started doing early on last year when we started having this problem in Jackson NJ. Housing has gotten rediculous, to the point im moving out of state and i already own my house. I cant imagine trying to start out in this town anymore.

    But even if that new guy doesn't stick around, maybe his friend does, then his friend, then his friend. Sometimes people just need to be told "hey why dont you come give it a try". Just somethin to kick around.
    Doug Velting Jr
    President Cassville Volunteer Fire Co
    dougvelting@fireexec.com
    www.cassvillefire.org
    Fire Exec .com

  18. #18
    Forum Member
    LeuitEFDems's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Location
    Egremont, The Bizerkshires, MA
    Posts
    1,294

    Default

    I feel your pain NMfire, et al.
    The town that I grew up in in south-western MA, and have served in some sort of capacity on the FD since I was 13 (currently EMS LT) is just way too much for me to afford in this day in age. I was forced to move to the next town over, luckily right near the town line so I could still be a member, because apartments are scarce and house prices, fogetaboutit...We have a huge 2nd homeowner population that doesn't blink at dropping $800K for a house...cash...and that's a "small" 2nd home. The town has done nothing to help...The "affordable housing" that they have been talking about is a joke....I think it'll be about $300K. We are scarce for members as it is, and the current community, with the 2nd homeowner "white collar" type don't want to volunteer. It'll be interesting to see what the future holds....
    The comments made by me are my opinions only, not of the Fire and EMS services I am affiliated with.

    I have lost my mind..has anyone seen it? it's not worth much..but it's mine

  19. #19
    MembersZone Subscriber

    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    New Mexico
    Posts
    140

    Default Let's blame the townspeople!!!

    nmfire, I am not exactly sure where your location in NM is, but down here in s.e. corner, I do believe the townspeople are to blame!

    This town does not really have alot going for it, except for the oil industry, which is great. And let's not forget the law enforcement training center.Which seems to be the source of all of our problems.

    There is not any decent rent houses to be found. The landlords have discovered that they could put a little bit of money into their rentals, and furnish them, and get $1400 / mo. for them by renting to FLETC instructors. So everyone jumped on that wagon, and now what you have to choose from are overpriced efficiency apartments, or something that is barely suitable to be used as a "crack-house.

    My nephew and his girlfriend live in a 1-bdr. efficiency duplex, and pay 350 a month for that plus utilities.
    If you want to buy a house, there is alot of overpriced sh** holes around, and there is always the trailer park......not that there is anything wrong with that, ...about the same as living in an apartment as far as I am concerned.

    For young couples that are just starting out, they are going into debt (bigtime) right off the bat, because of a bunch of greedy people. I guess to some people "the almighty dollar" is more important than taking care of your own!!!

    We are supposed to be "The city of champions" Well you had better be a super bowl champion if you want to live here!

    Thankyou for taking the time to read my banter!

  20. #20
    MembersZone Subscriber

    Join Date
    Jul 1999
    Location
    Flanders, NJ
    Posts
    13,537

    Default

    And let's not forget the law enforcement training center.Which seems to be the source of all of our problems.
    What? (This ought to be good).

  21. #21
    Forum Member
    nmfire's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Location
    Maryland (DC Suburb)
    Posts
    5,738

    Default

    Not quite sure what that means either, but I also don't live in New Mexico

    You think $350/mo is bad? Rent up here is usually $1,000/mo + utilities.
    Even the burger-flippers at McDonald's probably have some McWackers.

  22. #22
    MembersZone Subscriber
    savoy6's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Posts
    60

    Default

    Consolidation is my answer.

    We have a relatively small land area, approximately 200 square miles(small compared to most counties in the area) that has approximately a population of approximately 50,000. We have major roadways that crisscross the entire area that would allow for a couple of centally located stations easy and quick access to anywhere in the covered area. I would estimate a large portion of the populaton is located in the one of the two villages or the one city. The rest is rural farm land. A major interstate system runs through and several large industrial parks line the frontage roads and sub-divions in the outlying areas are also expanding and showing no signs of slowing.

    The area is currently covered by eight separate vol fire departments, one of which I work for. On average these eight departments combined have approximately 3500 calls for service. Which is about average for a couple of the full-time departments in the area. I once asked why these departments couldn't be folded into one department and one budget and create at least a full-time response staff and have poc as back up(i.e., a combo department). Let's just say replies were 50/50.

    Now I don't want to put the wrong idea out there, I like the department I work for, however I also pay taxes and live and work in the area I currently serve and feel for safety sake there should atleast be a full-time staff on duty.

    Now my preception is a lot of these departments have been around since dirt was invented and some people have trouble losing their little corner of the world. The same applies to the department I am on, great group of people but, don't want to move forward. That is the part I don't understand about the volunteer service, aren't we there for the betterment of the community we serve? I guess I haven't been around long enough to understand the tradition and hundreds of years service these departments have vested into the communities. I do understand when a call goes unanswered due to lack of trained personnel that just leaves a community with a tremendous void that has to be filled. So that's my two cents.

    p.s. I do realize every area is different so I am not implying every volunteer department should do as I have described, just a thought and I am not trying to start a argument. Just my thoughts on the situation.
    Last edited by savoy6; 12-27-2005 at 06:15 AM.

  23. #23
    Forum Member

    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Chicago
    Posts
    2,503

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by GeorgeWendtCFI
    Put this debate into perspective....

    Imagine if the town fathers announced that they were going to save the taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars per year in taxes. The salaries of the garbage collection technicians are going up. Vehicles are more expensive to purchase and maintain. Disposal fees are on the rise. OSHA regs require more and more training for the members. As of today, we are eliminating the paid garbage collection service. All garbage collection would be provided by community volunteers.

    Imagine the outcry. "We demand full garbage service even it costs us alot in our taxes!"

    Imagine the same town fathers make the following announcement...

    It has been increasingly difficult for our volunteer FD to provide adequate service due to the difficulty in ensuring consistent manpower. The same is true with EMS. We feel that the lives of our citizens are very important. So we are going to institute career personnel to supplement our dedicated volunteers. Of course, we are going to have to increase taxes to do it.

    Imagine the outcry. "We demand that the volunteer fire service remain our primary life-saving service. No new taxes!"

    The moral of this story is that picking up garbage is more important to people than having the lives saved. The issue is not paod vs. volunteer. The issue id making the citizens realize that they get the quality of emergency services they are willing to pay for.
    To quote an alderman here talking about fire vs. other city services .... "Keep the blue side running. No one ever lost an election because a kid died in a fire" The city trucks (garbage, snow plows, etc.) are blue. Garbage pick up and snow plowing have always been more important than the Fire Department.

  24. #24
    Forum Member
    Bones42's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2001
    Location
    Pt. Beach, NJ
    Posts
    10,687

    Default

    Ok, another perspective. Garbage is picked up 363 days a year here (they get Christmas and Thanksgiving off). FD responds to an average of 150 calls per year. Garbage is put out on the street every single day by the residents of the town. Every single house puts out garbage. 2/3's of the houses in my town have never had to use the FD. Of their 8 hour day, the garbage men are on the road about 7. 8 hours of a day at the firehouse constitutes some training, eating, watching TV, maintenance, etc. And on less than half of those days, a call (which more often than not is an erroneous alarm).

    I don't think garbage men are good comparisons to FF's, because dollar for dollar, in most cases most of the time, they are a much better expense. (unless your house is actually on fire )

    What other profession/occupation is there that truly compares to FF? A significant amount of time is spent preparing/training for calls that (hopefully) don't happen constantly. And Yes, I know, there are places where the call volume is that high, but in the majority of the country I bet the call volume is much less. LEO? They spend a good amount of time training but not actually arresting people, but they are on patrol (which deters crime). Should FD's patrol? Don't think that would help prevent too many fires. How many FD's train and train but have not had a "room and contents" fire in the last 6 months? (and yet the garbage is still put out and picked up). Even EMS agencies tend to have a larger call volume, though not often encompassing all the training they cover (or should be). How many times have people trained on KED's and/or HARE traction splints but never used one at a scene?

    I believe what FF's do is a different animal than any other profession and just don't see any way to compare it's importance.
    "This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?

  25. #25
    Forum Member

    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Posts
    21

    Default

    You should build a 7 million dollar fire station and invite them to move into one of the 1500 square foot bed rooms, and have full access to the bar. Then give them free trips on the department expense.

Thread Information

Users Browsing this Thread

There are currently 1 users browsing this thread. (0 members and 1 guests)

Similar Threads

  1. Firefighting in the great state of SC
    By Roofhook in forum Firefighters Forum
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 01-06-2005, 01:42 PM
  2. Firefighting in the great state of SC
    By Roofhook in forum Volunteer Forum
    Replies: 0
    Last Post: 01-06-2005, 01:27 PM
  3. 2004 IAFC report on the voluteer fire service
    By HeavyRescueTech in forum Volunteer Forum
    Replies: 0
    Last Post: 09-02-2004, 09:55 AM
  4. 2004 report by IAFC report on the volunteer fire service
    By HeavyRescueTech in forum Firefighters Forum
    Replies: 0
    Last Post: 09-02-2004, 09:55 AM
  5. One for the good guys ... thank you Pennsylvania!
    By PAVolunteer in forum Firefighters Forum
    Replies: 24
    Last Post: 11-15-2002, 02:29 PM

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts

Log in

Click here to log in or register