Thread: volunteer

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    Default volunteer

    what is the differnce between paid fireifighters and volunteer??? do volunteer firefighters live at the station and work normal shifts like paid firefighters?

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    That's a VERY broad question, and you're going to get a lot of answers you didn't expect to.

    Depending on the call volume of the station, some volunteer FD's strictly respond from home when a call is received, while those in busier departments have duty crews where they staff the station on certain days & nights. The busiest of the volunteer departments have a live-in program - the personnel actually LIVE at the station in agreement to run calls so many nights per week.

    As for the rest of the "differences," were you wondering about anything specific?

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    The difference is that one is paid (hence the name paid firefighter) and the other is not (hence the name volunteer). Everything else is variable. A paycheck is the sole difference between being a volunteer firefighter and being a paid firefighter.

    BTW, I'd caution you against starting threads like this. There are certain topics that are harshly debated, this being one of them.
    Fir Na Tine
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    Default Paid vs. volunteer

    needlejockey oversimplifies.

    There are 1.3 million folks who call themselves firefighters.

    About 310,000 make firefighting their chosen occupation. Those folks are employees of:
    a) local government (town, city or county)
    b) a service district or authority (Orange County [CA] Fire Authority)
    c) state (California Division of Forestry)
    d) private corporation that contracts with a municipality, federal government or military reservation (Rural-Metro)

    Those folks get paid to work a 40 to 77 hour work schedule. Most work on some type of rotating shift of 8 to 24 hours per duty work shift. Those employed by a municipality are under the same civil service regulation system as their law enforcement associates.

    About 230,000 of these career firefighters are members of the International Association of Fire Fighters.

    Generally speaking, career (paid) firefighters are found in the suburban areas and the cities. In the last ten years their has been a migration of paid employees into more rural areas as weekday staffing for ambulances and fire trucks. Paid firefighters get the same health care, retirement and other benefits available to other municipal employees.

    There are another 100,000 - 300,000 firefighters who are "paid-on-call" or "per diem." They get some type of financial reimbursement for their services. It may be considered a part time job, where you are paid an hourly wage. It also may just be a token $5 to $25 per call - to cover gas and incidentials.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JGohagan
    Do volunteer firefighters live at the station and work normal shifts like paid firefighters?
    sometimes. In suburban mid-atlantic areas, volunteers may be providing evening/weekend service while the municipality provides weekday career firefighters.

    BoxAlarm187 provided a great summary.

    Look at this site: http://www.nvfc.org/ check the "Links" section

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    I agree with the summary posited by both Mike Ward and boxalarm.Though I believe that when you boil it down,there's not much difference between paid and volunteers.
    Both types put out fires,open up wrecked cars,provide emergency prehospital medical care,etc,etc,etc.
    The major difference I've noticed is that paid guys train every shift and vollies train at scheduled meetings and often at state run fire schools.
    That and the fact that vollies wait at home,work,school,ball fields and give up personal time to answer the tones.

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    Wow, 6 posts and it hasn't gotten ugly yet....good work guys...
    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 Paid vs. Volunteer: An Unproductive Debate

    From a presentation I made at FDIC this year:

    Thousands of hours and millions of words have been committed to the conflict between career and volunteer emergency service workers.

    Most of it is unproductive and corrosive, devolving into an “I am better than you” grade school fight.

    Same job tasks:

    DIFFERENT INTERNAL & EXTERNAL ENVIRONMENTS.

    Neither is better nor worse

    ___________________________________

    The issues that motivate us, create "hot buttons" or make us feel good about ourselves are different for paid, volunteer and two-hatter firefighters.

    The fireground tasks are the same, along with the hazards and the need to be competent and confident as a combat firefighter.

    Most of the flame wars on message boards are because a one side imposes it's value system on the other.

    But this is just *my* opinion.

    Mike

    Author: Fire Officer: Principles and Practice (2006) NFPA
    Last edited by MikeWard; 08-23-2006 at 09:50 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by needlejockey

    BTW, I'd caution you against starting threads like this. There are certain topics that are harshly debated, this being one of them.
    I, however, would not caution you to ask ANY question here. This thread is a newbie thread for a reason. We as newbies are encouraged to ask when we don't have answers. I would encourage you to keep asking. One day our bag of knowledge will be filled and we too can debate this very hot topic, but in order to do so we need to be able to have a resource for gathering information. Just my opinion.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RESERVEFORNOW
    One day our bag of knowledge will be filled and we too can debate this very hot topic, but in order to do so we need to be able to have a resource for gathering information.
    Not gonna happen,my friend.You should NEVER figure that you know enough that you don't have to ask questions.
    There have been times I full well knew the answer but asked the question anyway because I could see some of my fellow rookies weren't getting the concept at all.Someone might have thought I asked a simple question but no one else had the nads to ask it so I did.I already know I look dumb.I blame my father for that.
    While there ARE stupid questions,there aren't any dumb ones unless you don't ask them.
    I classify a stupid question like the one asked in the movie"Hellfighters"where a reporter asked what the red suits were for:"Smart showmanship,right?"
    when the reason was so that everyone on the fireground knew where to look for orders on what came next.
    Just ask questions and do not worry about looking stupid.In addition the extra questions might garner some insider tricks to getting the job done easier or safer,either of which is always a good thing.

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    Quote Originally Posted by doughesson
    Not gonna happen,my friend.You should NEVER figure that you know enough that you don't have to ask questions.
    There have been times I full well knew the answer but asked the question anyway because I could see some of my fellow rookies weren't getting the concept at all.Someone might have thought I asked a simple question but no one else had the nads to ask it so I did.I already know I look dumb.I blame my father for that.
    While there ARE stupid questions,there aren't any dumb ones unless you don't ask them.
    I classify a stupid question like the one asked in the movie"Hellfighters"where a reporter asked what the red suits were for:"Smart showmanship,right?"
    when the reason was so that everyone on the fireground knew where to look for orders on what came next.
    Just ask questions and do not worry about looking stupid.In addition the extra questions might garner some insider tricks to getting the job done easier or safer,either of which is always a good thing.
    Doug,
    That was absoultely my point. That is why I chose my words as I did and wrote "filled" bags and not "full" bags. Right now our bags are empty. They need to be filled. Once they are full, we are all in trouble. Sorry I wasn't clearer. Thanks for reiterating though.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RESERVEFORNOW
    Doug,
    That was absoultely my point. That is why I chose my words as I did and wrote "filled" bags and not "full" bags. Right now our bags are empty. They need to be filled. Once they are full, we are all in trouble. Sorry I wasn't clearer. Thanks for reiterating though.
    Didn't mean to steal your thunder or anything.I do hope that there's no one in the fire service that figures that they"seen it all and done it all" because someday that supposition will be proven false.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JGohagan
    what is the differnce between paid fireifighters and volunteer??? do volunteer firefighters live at the station and work normal shifts like paid firefighters?
    I'm a newbee here too, so let me put in my 2 cents.
    My first fire dept we were paid-on call. We worked a 6 hour shift every 4 days. We could be called out at any time. And for this and attending class,drill and meetings we were paid to be there.
    My dept now is full volunteer. I go to calls,classes,meeting and get nothing. It now costs me in time and gas to attend all these funtions.
    But, yes on the fire calls there is no diffrence. Except this. On first dept most everyone was EMT and had advanced training in firefighting. Here, your lucky if they can tie there own shoes. Now you see the diffrence.

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    Heh...I love semantics. Let's analyze a post, shall we?
    Just for the record, I "am called" (vs "call myself") a firefighter, part of the unpaid (yes, totally unpaid--not paid-call, not per diem, not paid at all) component of a combination dept...where I'm considered an employee of the County, despite my non-paid status (much like an unpaid reserve peace officer).

    MikeWard says:
    There are 1.3 million folks who call themselves firefighters.
    *LOL* "Call themselves"...interesting choice of words that sets a certain tone for the rest of the post, and leaves some speculation as to what it is that Mr. Ward is truly saying...

    About 310,000 make firefighting their chosen occupation. Those folks are employees of:
    a) local government (town, city or county)
    b) a service district or authority (Orange County [CA] Fire Authority)
    c) state (California Division of Forestry)
    d) private corporation that contracts with a municipality, federal government or military reservation (Rural-Metro)
    Now, I'm an employee of the County...subject to all its rules, regulations, etc, and with the exception of pay and medical/dental benefits, all County programs (EAP, for example) are open to me. But wait...I'm not paid. So where do I fall in that one?

    There are another 100,000 - 300,000 firefighters who are "paid-on-call" or "per diem." They get some type of financial reimbursement for their services. It may be considered a part time job, where you are paid an hourly wage. It also may just be a token $5 to $25 per call - to cover gas and incidentials.
    So now we get to "Paid-Call" FFs... both the description of PCFs and Career FFs are good and informative without being overwhelming for a newbie or civilian... but wait, there's only one problem.

    Mr. Ward discusses full-timers, and part-timers/PCFs...but the math...something's just not right.

    310,000 F/T (Career) Firefighters... plus 100,000-300,000 PCFs = 410-610,000 Firefighters.
    But according to his opening statement, there're 1.3 million people who "call themselves" Firefighters. It appears that, by omission, Mr. Ward is implying that the remaining 690-890,000 people who "call themselves" Firefighters are, in fact, not.

    I'm not sure that's the true intent, but judging by that opening statement, it certainly seems to leave plenty of room for speculation. Any clarification to offer on this?
    Is this just a backhanded way of dinging volunteers, since saying it outright would undoubtedly cause another flamewar...though I think that's inevitable anyhow...anyone care to start a betting pool on how long it takes?

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    Remember, most firefighter are volunteers - upwards of 85% according to NFPA. And most of the places i have worked it was the volunteers who had the most education and training - usually due to enthusiasm and financial ability. Stay safe and remember it is all the same job....wether a paid guy or professioanal volunteer.

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    Quote Originally Posted by the1141man
    Heh...I love semantics. Let's analyze a post, shall we? .... But according to his opening statement, there're 1.3 million people who "call themselves" Firefighters. It appears that, by omission, Mr. Ward is implying that the remaining 690-890,000 people who "call themselves" Firefighters are, in fact, not.
    1141, I do not see how you can get to this conclusion. That was *NOT* my intention or goal. I used the phrase "call themselves" to cover the wide range of relations that individuals have with their organizations.

    NFPA estimates that there are a million unpaid firefighters in the United States. I cannot find a validated number for those who receive some type of compensation when they serve as a firefighter - so my best estimate is the range I posted.

    I appreciate the description of your situation and benefits as an unpaid firefighter who is a member of a semi-rural California county department. That level of benefits and local government support for unpaid firefighters is not universal.

    My personal experience (as a volunteer, seasonal, career and per diem) is in Virginia and Maryland. I have detailed knowledge of a dozen or so other volunteer fire departments and rescue squads.

    The most accurate statement I can make is that each organization is unique in it's utilization, coverage and protection of unpaid firefighters. Some unpaid firefighters have the same protection and municipal support as paid employees. Other unpaid firefighters are - at best - considered independent contractors with no coverage or benefits.

    For example: there was a 1989 crash between an all-volunteer engine company (in a county completely protected by unpaid firefighters) and an Amtrak train. Two volunteers were instantly killed and the third was so severly injured he was initially triaged as a "gray" tag. County government refused to recognize that the volunteer fire department was functioning as an "agent of the county" when it was responding to a vehicle fire and crashed/derailed the train.

    This case went to the state Supreme Court - the final ruling was that the county shared the financial responsibility and liability for the aftermath of the accident. Medical expenses for the three injured volunteer firefighters was *NOT* covered by the county and the 503(c) corporation that the VFD was organized under had no provision for handing a catastrophic incident.

    It required specific action by the elected board of supervisors to provide some financial support to the unpaid firefighter who underwent almost a year of rehabilitation.

    At the time of the incident, less than one-third of the volunteer fire departments in Virginia had a Memorandum of Agreement, service contract or enabling local administrative law with their municipality. I added this incident in the Fire Officer III state curricula in 1992. This was one of a couple of efforts to make sure that unpaid firefighters enjoy the same protection as paid firefighters when they are injured on-the-job. My understanding is that in 2002 most of the Virginia VFD 503(c) corporations have some type of documented agreement with the municipalities that they serve.

    Quote Originally Posted by the1141man
    Is this just a backhanded way of dinging volunteers, since saying it outright would undoubtedly cause another flamewar...though I think that's inevitable anyhow...anyone care to start a betting pool on how long it takes?
    Nope - unless YOUR goal is to start a flame war.

    Thanks for posting.
    Last edited by MikeWard; 08-27-2006 at 09:37 PM. Reason: spelling!

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    Just a quick note for the1411 man...

    Mike Ward is one of the most professional, educated, and pro-fire service (career, volunteer, and everything in between) individuals you'll ever speak to or meet. His time would be completely wasted trying to start a flame war on a national forum, as his decades of experience is better spent trying to improve the fire service as a whole through research and education.

    For the record, I don't work for, haven't worked for, and have no association with Mr Ward, other than to read his posts and become more educated each time I do. In fact, I am going to verify that my VFD has a valid MOA with our jurisdiction based on this evening's post!

    Thanks, and now back to your regular programming...

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    1141, I do not see how you can get to this conclusion. That was *NOT* my intention or goal. I used the phrase "call themselves" to cover the wide range of relations that individuals have with their organizations.
    Ok, fair enough.

    I don't see how what "relationship" one has with one's organization (member of a non-profit VFD, career/civil service, career/private, Paid-call, etc) has to do with whether or not they're a "firefighter"--after all, the basest definition of the word is "one who fights (attempts to extinguish) fires". Therefore, if you are involved in suppression operations for a fire protection agency, whether local, state, federal, private, contractor, etc...regardless of what it titles itself or you, then you're a "firefighter". Well, at least to my way of thinking...

    Anyways, just a point of information--I've been watching the forums here a lot longer than I've been posting, even before I registered for membership. I've noticed there seems to be a lot of vehemence to the "volly vs career" argument, on both sides of the fence. From the career side, though, I've noticed a strong overtone of "If you ain't paid, you ain't s**t, wannabe," in those threads. Judging from that past history, and not knowing Mr. Ward from Adam, I took the "call themselves" phrasing as a thinly veiled "shot across the bow".
    Sorry for the misunderstanding.

    Maybe I'm just really fortunate for being in the department I am...yes, we're a combination dept, but our paid-guy staffing is pretty short. Therefore we have a strong symbiotic relationship--the paid guys can't run much more than a good TA without us (unless you want the entire department responding for a 1 fam residential fire *LOL*), and since most of us lack class B licenses or FAE training, we couldn't run much more than that without them (4 quick-attacks vs a structure fire in an unhydranted region--fire wins, methinks). Together, though, we can and do accomplish a hell of a lot, and pretty damn well if I do say so myself.

    Lastly, if my true goal was to start a flamewar, don't you think I would've set about to flaming in my original post? Trust me, I may be relatively new to the Fire Service and firehouse.com, but I'm hardly new to the internet or messageboards. I used to be a moderator over at military.com...*LOL* talk about flamewars, go look through some of the posts on the Marine Corps boards over there for a good edumacation on the ins and outs of proper flaming. Calling the intent of a post into question hardly qualifies, guys.

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