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  1. #1
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    Angry Members "picking and choosing" calls

    I know that there will be lots of answers to this one! (Sorry if its a repost).

    Should departments have discipline procedures for people that respond whenever they feel like it? (If it is found out to be the case?) Meaning, not for the 3AM fire alarms or MVA's, but will knock over their own grandmother for a confirmed structure fire?
    "If people concentrated on the really important things in life, there'd be a shortage of fishing poles."
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    I imagine it has always been this way, and to some extent Always will be.
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    Oh yes with out a doubt.....I was wondering here if anyone has SOG's in place for stuff like this. Our Chief has expressed his opinion on this many times. Its the same people all the time...
    "If people concentrated on the really important things in life, there'd be a shortage of fishing poles."
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    The sign on the front of the building says volunteer so punishing the people that don't come around enough could be a bad move and hurt morale. You could consider offering incentives for those people who show up reguarly and come to the BS night calls however. There have been some posts recently in this forums about incentives and paying memebrs on a per call basis you may want to check out. Does your department require that its members attend a certain percentage of calls every month/quarter/year?
    -wpw

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    I understand it states "volunteer". My department currently pays for calls (won't say how much, but it ain't to freakin' bad). We don't have a minimum call requirement. I am just trying to see if other depts., do have call requirements. Or say you need to respond to certain BS calls for a while to show you want to be here. Even if it means sweeping the floor.
    Seems a lot of people say "We are just volunteers", when it comes to training requirements and call responses. That in my opinion is baloney. Either you want to be there or you don't. It just gives the vollies a black mark on the "check sheet" again.
    "If people concentrated on the really important things in life, there'd be a shortage of fishing poles."
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    Reminds me of the signup sheet on the house burn this weekend...apparently some of the guys coming havn't been to any other calls for some time now.

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    Quote Originally Posted by S8ER95Z
    Reminds me of the signup sheet on the house burn this weekend...apparently some of the guys coming havn't been to any other calls for some time now.
    Exactlly my point....call it crying on my side or what have you. But, does anyone really want or feel safe with a guy, that makes the bare minimum of trainings and/or calls? Regardless of how good a friends you are with them or how long they have been on the dept., maybe someone should tell them?
    I work (train) with the cadets and a few Jrs. and tell them all the time, do not pick and chose calls when you are allowed to start responding.
    "If people concentrated on the really important things in life, there'd be a shortage of fishing poles."
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    I have mixed feelings on this. My husband and I are on the same volunteer dept., he is also a career FF in a nearby city. He has been a vollie since 2001, paid since 2004. He kind of picks and chooses the vollie calls. His reasoning, he's burnt out, he feels he has paid his dues by so many years being "gung - ho" about it. It just started recently, maybe 3 to 6 months ago. I don't think its the right attitude to have, but hey, it happens. I don't think too many people can be as excited as they were when the were new compared to having 5 or 6 years in. I've been in since 2001 too and I still get all excited!

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    Quote Originally Posted by WaterbryVTfire
    I understand it states "volunteer". My department currently pays for calls (won't say how much, but it ain't to freakin' bad). We don't have a minimum call requirement. I am just trying to see if other depts., do have call requirements. Or say you need to respond to certain BS calls for a while to show you want to be here. Even if it means sweeping the floor.
    Seems a lot of people say "We are just volunteers", when it comes to training requirements and call responses. That in my opinion is baloney. Either you want to be there or you don't. It just gives the vollies a black mark on the "check sheet" again.
    Brother, I agree being a "volunteer" in not an excuse for poor attendance at calls or training, for some members however they do look at it that way and it's a problem. To answer your original question more specifically we do have a call requirement for each quarter. We also use yearly call totals (i.e. top ten) as a way to determine who gets the new "stuff" and gets to go to specialized training. A few years back we bought 10 voice amplifiers for our masks and they went to the top ten responders so far for the year. Some people complained but it was pretty cut and dry -- the people who show up and use their gear get the new/good stuff. Every year we send a handful of guys to FDIC and/or the Baltimore Fire Expo for hands on training and those people that are on the top ten get first option to go. We also require a minimum attendance for drills throughout the year with a portion of those drills being mandatory. Some people though need to be sat down by the chief once in a while and asked if they can continue to commit the time required. Hope that's helpful.
    -wpw

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    I donít practice ala cart response. I try to make every call I can (And balance my response with family, financial, professional obligations) and treat it as though it was a family member who dialed 911. I have blown off work to stay on the scene of a working fire that required man power into the following morning. I have opted to catch my train to Manhattan for work rather than make an EMS run. I never make the decision based on the type of call, just the timing.

    My department uses a weighted point system for every firehouse related function.
    We have a Points Committee that reviews all member participation on a yearly basis. If you havenít made your minimums the Chief gets notified and decides what action needs to be taken. If you don't shape up you get booted.
    We just don't need members, we need good members.

    As far as individual runs are concerned, I have booted members from the rig that donít come around for those that do. Those members got the message.

    My .02

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    Last edited by RoughRider; 03-15-2006 at 01:37 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by scvfd412
    I have mixed feelings on this. My husband and I are on the same volunteer dept., he is also a career FF in a nearby city. He has been a vollie since 2001, paid since 2004. He kind of picks and chooses the vollie calls. His reasoning, he's burnt out, he feels he has paid his dues by so many years being "gung - ho" about it.
    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH, he's is really getting crusty. He must be getting ready to retire. Tell your husband that that attitude is a joke. Ooooh, he has 5 years in the service, big deal. Tones drop and your avaliable, you go.

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    I think if you have something important going on 'Work, Family, etc' then your not exactly picking and choosing (just so those people don't feel guilty).. but if you literally don't respond to ANYTHING but a structure fire and you just keep watching TV at home during an MVA than maybe you need to just step away for a while and take a break.

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    Default annual requirements

    We are an all vollie dept w/ minimum requirements to maintain active membership (which allows us to attend different company functions - picnics, banquets) - 10% of calls, 9 drills per year etc... they also "encourage" us to sign up for a duty night (1 ems, 1FF, 1 driver, 1 officer) to take all the **** calls during the night so not everyone needs to get up - there are a handful that do this but it is a continual struggle -

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    Don't have to because I'm a volunteer is one of my favorite excuses. I then explain to them, the last time they "volunteered" was when they "volunteered" to become a member and follow all of the rules. Period.

    Set standards, follow them, if people don't meet them, show them the door.

    What's better: a company with 15 people that pull their weight or a company with 30 people that do very little?
    "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?

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    I prefer the incentive method, myself. We have several ways to do this...

    1. We have a volunteer incentive "point" system, which pays out a little end-of-year incentive money for volunteers based on activity. If you don't have the points, you don't get the bucks.

    2. Equipment decisions are based, in part, on activity. When it's time to buy turnout gear, radio equipment, etc., we first make sure everyone has what they need to work safely (of course), but if there's room in the budget after that, it's call AND training attendance that are taken into consideration (even before seniority) when we decide who gets the new equipment and who has to settle for the hand-me-downs.

    3. We give out other perks...job shirts, t-shirts, polos, etc...to our members. Everybody gets a standard set of stuff (some t-shirts, 1 polo, 1 job shirt). But, if you want me to buy you something special (or want a second job shirt, or whatever), your butt better be there whenever it can be. It's not a written policy, but it's a generally accepted practice which rarely is questioned.

    4. There are also equipment "extras" that we hand out to our most reliable volunteers...things like personal SCBA facepieces, so you don't have to use the community ones that are kept on the rigs...which generally only get offered to the people who can be relied upon to be there when they're needed.

    As long as we're not talking about things that impact safety, I have absolutely no qualms about looking a volunteer in the face and saying, "no, you can't have [this thing you want] because I never see you around for [calls, training, etc.]." Does this sort of thing work? To some extent, I think it does. If nothing else, it rewards the people who aren't playing the "pick and choose" game.

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    I agree with you Bones42. We have a 30% attendance for calls at your home station. It is looked at every month but in 3 month intervals ie;June,July,Aug and then July, Aug., Sept. If you do not make the 30% for a that three month period you are called in and have to give a reason why and if it is an acceptable excuse, you have to make up how ever amny fires you were down for that time period. If it is not you may be fired. It has been done. We also have a 50% drill attendance every 6 months and have required drills ie:SCBA and live fire. If you do not make that 50%, you have to take a practical and written test to stay on. If you miss a required drill, we have makeups and if you don't, you are fired. If someone misses 3 drills in a row without giving an excuse why, they are fired. It has not happend often but we have fired poeple for this kind of stuff and it doesn't look good if you get fired from a "vollunteer" dept.

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    The hard thing to determine is are they actually picking and choosing or is it coincidence? Not defending them, but we need to be real careful when accusing.

    Our organisaiton faced similar issues when we went across to alphanumeric pagers- the tones went off with a full description of the event and many would read it and consider whether they would or wouldn't respond. We found no way to overcome it....
    Luke

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    Quote Originally Posted by lutan1
    The hard thing to determine is are they actually picking and choosing or is it coincidence? Not defending them, but we need to be real careful when accusing.
    You're correct about that, but if you use data over the longer run (the past 6 months or a year), random error (a.k.a "coincidence") should work its way out of the data, leaving you with a realistic measure of who is putting forth the extra effort and who is coasting along.

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    Default Not much we can do about it

    We have no set standard for call attendance......but we all know who makes what ........and the way it is mostly handled here ...........PEER PRESSURE.If we have 4 runs in hte middle of the night and some members show up @ 0830 for a call most of those who were uo during the night will not even think twice about busting their stones about where they were for the last 4 calls. I understand about obligations, got wife 2 kids 3 jobs......and can still make 30% + of the calls. We do have a mandatory drill attendance. And the only times where run attnedance come into play is promotions and any optional schooling a member wants to attend. It is the same circus everywhere, just different clowns , or the work of few supporting many.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Weruj1
    we all know who makes what ........ It is the same circus everywhere, just different clowns , or the work of few supporting many.

    You said it, Bro!
    The unfortunate part is that the faithful members are in danger of "burning out" from carrying the load for the clowns. Clowns in this scenario do NOT make for good morale; it has the opposite effect. In addition, they are both a nuisance and a danger.

    I agree with trying to find out the cause of the picking and choosing calls. It may be a personality conflict, lack of faith in the leadership, work/family conflict or simple loss of interest. What ever the problem may be; it needs to be addressed or dismissal for the good of the group may be the only option. Tough words, I admit, but this is a tough job with people depending on us. Either an individual can do it or they can't. There are also fire associations for those who would prefer to donate their time to the cause without actually being a fire fighter. Perhaps that route would best suit everyone's needs.
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    Default MY Side

    Ok heres my feelings on this everyone has there choice to responde or not. No one will ever know what the reasons are. I have heard them all over the 10 years I have in the vol service. In the first 5 years in the dept. Me and my wife also a firefighter for the same dept spent almost all our free time at or doing things for the dept. Know we have 2 kids and both work opposite shifts with one car. I can reponde to calls from work wic is nice but they pay me while out on the calls. So I do have to pick my calls.....I dont want to ruin a good thing by running out to a wires down or cellar pupm detail. As for my wife she stays home with the kids most of the time. She does go if it is a female with isuues or if she is out with the car( which we only have one of). So should we be looked down on for picking calls I dont believe so...
    Stay Safe and live long

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    I'm new on my FD and I noticed people picking and chooseing what calls to goto. We had a medical 2 nights ago where 2 people showed up for the call within 7 minutes and today we had a confirmed fire where 15 people were there in 3 minutes.

    I don't know what could be done about being selective about calls all the time, but I think overall it hurts the department.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Golzy12
    I'm new on my FD and I noticed people picking and chooseing what calls to goto. We had a medical 2 nights ago where 2 people showed up for the call within 7 minutes and today we had a confirmed fire where 15 people were there in 3 minutes.

    I don't know what could be done about being selective about calls all the time, but I think overall it hurts the department.
    I also dispatch where I work. We dispatch for several volunteer departments. One thing that I find is sometimes on medical calls we will have 8 members respond for a sick person which is over kill.

    If you have a medical call that can be handled by 2-3 folks I probably wouldnt respond if I knew enough man power was on the way.

    It when you have one person or nobody show up that its scary!


    15 people for confirmed house fire? I wouldnt complain about that one bit.

    Does every member of the deaprtment have to be FF and EMT certified? I know some members here dont go to medical calls becasue they are fire certified only at the moment - they havent gotten thier EMT yet.
    Last edited by SSTONER; 03-15-2006 at 11:47 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by SSTONER
    I also dispatch where I work. We dispatch for several volunteer departments. One thing that I find is sometimes on medical calls we will have 8 members respond for a sick person which is over kill.

    If you have a medical call that can be handled by 2-3 folks I probably wouldnt respond if I knew enough man power was on the way.

    It when you have one person or nobody show up that its scary!


    15 people for confirmed house fire? I wouldnt complain about that one bit.

    Does every member of the deaprtment have to be FF and EMT certified? I know some members here dont go to medical calls becasue they are fire certified only at the moment - they havent gotten thier EMT yet.
    Everyone is required to be at least first responder, most are EMT's. But yea I agree 2 to 3 can handle a medical, but you can't always guarantee 2-3 will show up if everyone thinks someone else will goto the call and goes back to sleep, then like you said we got problems, and lets face it it's bound to happen. And your right about the 15 people showing up for a fire in 3 minutes, thats great no complaints there, I was just trying to make a point about people only going to selective calls.

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    Has anyone ever stopped to think about it from the "picker & choosers" point of view?

    I admit it- I pick and chooses what I respond to. But keep in mind several factors, before you nail me to the cross:

    First and foremost- I am now in my 17th year in my VOLUNTEER department, having joined when I was 16. For my first 7 years, (prior to becoming a career FF thus limiting my activity level) I always made the top 10 list. 1 year I was number 1, and another year I was number 2,,,the rest were higher up.) Therefore, I feel that I have paid my dues, and feel like the newer, younger guys can take up the slack, just like I did when I was their age.

    Secondly- PRIORITIES. I guess I have my priorities in a different pecking order than everyone else. My family comes first, that is NOT negotiable. As a result, my JOB comes second, because I have to support MY FAMILY.

    My employer does not pay me for time lost. I make very good wages, and in return, I am expected to perform 100%, 100% of the time. NOT falling asleep at my desk because I went on the alarm system run at 2am. NOT listening to the mid-afternoon room-and-contents on my pager and not paying attention to my work. I guarantee everyone reading this post, there are 40 hours a week that I don't have a pager with me.

    Let's talk about the two children at my heels as we speak- I'm sure most of you have children, but what about the younger guys on here who are griping? You ever drag a 1 and 2 year old to doctors appointments, babysitters, daycare, shopping for food, the multitude of birthday parties, friends houses, etc etc etc etc etc????? What about just plain old spending time with them?

    What about my OTHER excurricular activities? I know this may be difficult, at best, for some of you out there to grasp, but believe it or not, there ARE things in life OTHER than the FD!

    So- as a result.....I have made it known to both my family and my VFD: "I will make WHAT I can, WHEN I can." It's all a matter of performing a quick risk vs. benefit analysis every time the pager goes off:
    -In the car, at 5:30pm taking the kids to a Dr. Appointment. Paged for an alarm system........Keep going to the Doctor Appt.

    -In bed at 2am, saturday morning, no work tomorrow....Alarm system? Ok get up and take it in.

    -In bed at 2am, Weds morning, work at 8:30am....Alarm System? Rollover & Reset.

    -In bed at 2am, weds morning, work tomorrow, paged for 1 engine for mutual aid working fire.....Rollover & reset.

    -In bed at 2am, weds morning, work tomorrow, paged for 2 engines for mutual aid fire- ok this one I'll get out of bed for, sounds like they need help.

    Sunday afternoon, at a birthday party for kids friend......Paged for extrication...."Honey, I'll be back in a while."

    Sunday afternoon....paged for car fire.....With the kids at the park.....Reset.

    Any day during the week between the hours of 7:30am (leave the house) to 5:30pm (come home) paged for whatever? Don't hear it, the pager is at home turned off.

    I have said this before, I will say it again. When the volly house pays my mortgage, they may then mandate what I will do and not do.

    RANT OFF
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