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    Default Should I become a Vollie?

    I get a lot of good information off of this site and would like to know some of your opinion's. I just recently applied and got accepted as a volunteer with one firehouse close to home. They do not have any structured training department and I felt like my time was being wasted. I had spent 15 hours at the house and do not have one hour of training. Has anyone else had this happen and is this normal? I am thinking of signing up with another department that is about the same distance from my house, any thoughts?

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    Quote Originally Posted by brack22 View Post
    I get a lot of good information off of this site and would like to know some of your opinion's. I just recently applied and got accepted as a volunteer with one firehouse close to home. They do not have any structured training department and I felt like my time was being wasted. I had spent 15 hours at the house and do not have one hour of training. Has anyone else had this happen and is this normal? I am thinking of signing up with another department that is about the same distance from my house, any thoughts?
    If you are new to the fire service it would be beneficial for you to go to a department that has a motivated training officer and has a lot of structure. Nothing will get you hurt or killed faster than a lack of training and being at a department that will throw you to the wolves. Once you get some serious training under your belt maybe you can help that other department, when you're in a position to help them out.

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    Real simple answer. Ask!!! When you applied to the department, did anyone go over what is and what is not expected of you? Did they go over when the department has its meetings and trainings with you? Did you ask any of the above questions?

    If the Chief states that the department does not have a training program or schedule, and if he/she states that you need not worry about it yet, then you should worry and find a department that does train.

    Unfortunately, there are departments that will wait and see if you have any interest first before they get all cozy with you and training. They feel that they want to be sure that they are going to get their monies worth before they send you to training.

    On the other hand, there are some aggressive departments that have more training than you can handle for types of calls, and they will tell you from day one when and where to be and what is expected of you.

    But at least ask!!!


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    How long ago did you sign up? Our dept. has a trainging program, but when it comes to new recruits we typically have them go through a training program at our technical college before they go into our training program. The courses don't always run when they first join so it may take awhile for their trainging to begin. Also please ask about it, maybe it wasn't communicated what is expected of you properly.

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    Quote Originally Posted by orangebuster View Post
    Unfortunately, there are departments that will wait and see if you have any interest first before they get all cozy with you and training. They feel that they want to be sure that they are going to get their monies worth before they send you to training.

    I don't know what would be considered unfortunate about this. Unfortunate that the department takes a wait-and-see attitude sometimes, or unfortunate that there are so many unmotivated newbies who make this a necessity?

    I've seen lots of this type....they join up, all gung-ho for the first month or two, then suddenly start to realize that there's more to being a volunteer firefighter than running whacker lights on your POV and tear-assing all over the district. There's training every week, and maintenance, and sometimes that pager goes off at the most inconvenient time, doesn't it? They don't want all that, they just want to be seen around town with the lights and the fire department plate but when it comes down to doing the job, they want to come only when it's convenient to them or sounds like a big, "fun" call.

    Sound like I've dealt with this a few times before? I have, more times than I can count. So yeah, most times (unless the guy is a transfer from another area who already has a good reputation with his former department...we have a couple of guys who fit that description) we find it wise to spend a little time getting to know the guy, feeling him out, getting a read on his "real" reason for being here, before we start sinking a lot of $$$ into his training, new gear, and so forth.

    Now, does this mean we don't give the guy any training at all? Absolutely not. Most of our training is done in-house, so there's no real expense involved, and it's an excellent opportunity to observe the newbie and see how he's going to work out. And we have been accused of being sort of "cliquish", that it's hard for a new guy to fit in, but we have to get to know him pretty well before we can start to trust him.

    The problem I have is the guys who take advantage of the "paid" training that we do offer (mainly thinking of First Responder and EMT here) because it looks good on a resume and will help them land a job somewhere, but give nothing back to the department by actually responding to medical calls or anything bizarre like that .

    Again, can you tell I've dealt with this before? Very recently I pulled several pagers and gear from some guys who we sent to First Responder class only a few months ago. They were all fired up to go to the class, but have not been active responders since then. In short, we did not get any return on investment for the money we spent sending these guys to class.
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    I have been a volli for almost 6 years and where i am they don't train us the way they should. I am a member of a small department which is located 35 mins north of Las Vegas Nevada. We are "sponsored" with the Clark County Fire Department which is one of the biggest departments in the country. They are not allowed to train us to up to ff1 per the union. we do get two monthly trainings form them. the first Thursday of every month is ems training and that is for the members who are already emt's to keep the CE hours they need to re cert at the end of the year. the 2nd Wensday of the month we have a fire training and just in the last year have they actually started doing hands on. All we did for 4 1/2 years or more was slide shows and lectures. All of my training i have paid out of my own pocket spent all the hours after work and away from my family to get where i am today. Basically if you have the heart the dedication and are doing this for the right reasons then yes i say pursue it. some people are there for the wrong reasons hints the gun ho attitude then the dieing out when they realize it isn't all its cracked up to be.

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    I became a vollie in Jan. The second meeting I attended they gave me gear and went over hgow to get dressed, how to don scba, and how to operate the preconnect.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ISfirebear83 View Post
    They are not allowed to train us to up to ff1 per the union.
    Small correction: if they aren't allowed to train with you, it isn't unilaterally because of "the union". If they aren't allowed to train with you because of some contract provision, it's because both the Clark County Fire Department (or whoever represents "management") and "the union" agreed to make it so.
    "Nemo Plus Voluptatis Quam Nos Habant"

    The Code is more what you'd call "guidelines" than actual rules.

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    is this normal?
    Good Luck on defining "normal" and the volunteer fire service.

    Depending on when a person joins my company, they may go for a few weeks with very little to no training as well. Of course, during that time, you are not allowed to do too much either. All of our members are sent to FF1 when they join. A course starts about every 3 or 4 months, so until the next course is available, you will be waiting.

    Now that does not discourage a guy from coming down and spending time getting to know where equipment is on the trucks, calling some of the officers to meet with them to go over equipment and such, etc.

    I'd suggest contacting the officers of the company and talking with them about your concerns.
    "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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    brack22 -

    You said you had spent 15 hours at the house and not one hour of training.

    There have been many good replies to your question but I have to ask you, are you being a little impatient? Give them time to even know you, make sure you are going to be there next week for another 15 hours. You did not say wether you had asked any members about their training, or if you went to any meetings to even ask these questions. So slow down and ask your officers/members first about what they expect of you before you throw the question out here. This is a great place (forums) to learn things related to the fire service, but when it comes to questions about training, or other questions about your department start there first. Let us know what you find out.

    T.J.

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    My dept is the same way. Most nights of the week that are designated as training nights, they'd rather sit at the hall and shine the bumper of the pumper with their asses and smoke cigerettes . After about a year of this I said too my Chief either start training or at least send me on my Level 1 course or I'll go too another dept(which thankfully the town dept is as close too my house as my own) and get properly trained. 2 Months later I started level 1
    If someone with multiple personalities threatens to kill himself, is it considered a hostage situation?

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    I was a big pain in my officers' collective arse when I first joined my department.I was always wanting to gofer stuff even before going through rookie class.They didn't come out and say it but I could see the look in their eyes.They kept me from making an even bigger fool than I already was a few times.
    It could be that they are waiting to have more people to warrant a class and holding off the training until then.
    Still,someone should be showing you things like where the EMS gear is kept,what compartment holds the tools,where the vent fans and extrication tool pump is,if there is assigned seating in the rig,where can cleaning gear be found,etc.If you get familiar with the equipment and where it is,that will be a big leg up when they start training you.
    They might not have given you bunker gear or the training to use it yet,but you can be an asset to your department handling little jobs that come up.As others have said,ask what you can do and use that task to learn something about either firefighting or the department's make up.
    You'll enjoy being a volunteer.The best part of it is that you know things that the news stations can't learn.
    The worst part is that all too often,you can't discuss what you learn outside of"the family" because some things just aren't meant for sharing.

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    Just wanted to say thanks for all the good answers. I guess I will have to let them know how I feel and see how it goes from there. In regards to getting a new recuit training class together, I am the only trainee in the class. I think that is why they have a hard time having class for just one recuit.

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    Money shouldn't be a 'prioritizer' but sometimes it is. The wait-and-see method is often dictated by countless amounts of funds being dedicated to individuals wishing to take courses right off the bat and then going limp. A know of a FD and a certain individual who made it half way through FF1 three times without completing it. It's unfortunate that money has to talk, but it does.

    If I were you, I would consider your options open but actively pursue a relationship with your current dept. Get some more in-house time, maybe even some informal in-house training for familiarization with procedures and equip.

    Normal is just a perception we use to understand our surroundings. But I would say that 15 hours at the FH isn't any indication of whether or not your future will present any training hours.

    For me it was a matter of when training was available. Sometimes the courses are there and they either get filled instantly, and sometimes the courses aren't there.

    More info would be needed to be specific as to what's going on here def. Just a broad pitch in the dark with this post.
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    Yep, im my book it is unfortunate that the department takes a wait and see attitude, when they should be all over the new person with any and all information instead of waiting and trying to determine the kind of person they are. In fact, a sit down session with applicants will generally give you a heads up as to what type a person you are getting to apply and give you the leverage you and the applicant need to determine if you both are a fit for each other.

    Is it unfortunate that you may get a new member in that has the right desire and dedication and you loose them because you sat back on your heels and waited for them to show you what they are made of?

    In todays volunteer fire service around here anyway, we have to take the time to talk with the new applicant and explain to them what is going to be required first and what our policies and procedures are. They are told how much time they are going to be spending at the station for trainings, meetings, functions, details, and calls ahead of time to help them decide if they have the time and motivation to go further and apply.

    No department wants or can afford to put money out when we struggle to get through each year with what we have. (maybe some can). But we also do not want to have to put in time with the applicants if we have a better sense ahead of time knowing they are not going to work out. But we have to screen the applicants properly and it does take a little effort and time.

    On the other side of the coin, we as volunteers in general are always complaining about the lack of interest in getting new applicants to apply. Sure, it would be nice to have a large amount of personnel on the board, but we also have to remember first it the person is going to be a benefit to our department and if they are willing to accept what is required.

    To say you find little time getting to know the person, sounds as if your department does take the wait and see stance. Maybe try talking and communicating with the new people more and you will find out what desires they have prior to them joining. Maybe try having a mentor program that deal with communicating with these new members early and often after they are accepted, and they deal with the needed in house trainings until a training program is available.

    Hey just what has worked for me in the past!!


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    Arrow Volunteer time

    brack22:

    It depends on how active the firefighters are at the dept. Do they all show up for the trainings? Too few people showing up may inhibit the training officer from holding good trainings.

    I'm with a "SMALL" volunteer dept also. Our average calls are 1-2 calls a month. My dept has 13 firefighters but I can only count on 3 to show up for any particular call unless it's a major incident......then I can count on only 6 showing up.

    I'm the training officer for that department and I want to do all kinds of exciting training events but I can only count on 3-5 people to show up for training so it usually prohibits me from setting up the kind of training I'd like to give. It's to the point now that I'm getting ready to hold BIG training events to where I can get nieghboring departments to come and join.

    I'm trying to get my department to break through the "Which comes first....the chicken or the egg". I have a hard time getting people to show up unless I have good training events. I have a hard time having good training events untill I can start having more people show up.

    If none of this sounds familiar with your department, you need to be more assertive with your training officer. Can they send you through some kind of outside structured course? Can you train with neighboring departments?
    Does anyone in your department train with other departments?.......if so can you go with that person?

    Basically...................I feel your pain

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    I guess I was lucky to have gotten on a 45 person department and one where people were enthusiastic about showing up,even for station detail.
    The Chief would put on a feed on training nights on his theory of"If I feed them,they will come".It was usually hot dogs and hamburgers pizzas if there wasn't time or a brisket or other grilled treats if there was,but folks brought other stuff to fill out the menu.After eating,riding assignments were figured out in case something came up.
    We never had trouble getting people to show up for training or fires,which impressed other department's people when they'd visit for training nights.When we had the Commonwealth arson investigator for our area show us what he did,every member showed up along with another 30 guests from neighboring departments.
    In Kentucky,you can go to any department for training and they'll issue a yellow slip on what was covered and the trainer's designation to show that you'd had that training somewhere else.Does your state do that?I'm not sure if you were asking if training with another department allowed you to go on calls or not.We'd had guests go with us but didn't let them do anything but gofer work if they weren't known to the department.It could have been someone brand new to their own and wanting to get extra training.
    Quote Originally Posted by XRaysJL View Post
    brack22:

    If none of this sounds familiar with your department, you need to be more assertive with your training officer. Can they send you through some kind of outside structured course? Can you train with neighboring departments?
    Does anyone in your department train with other departments?.......if so can you go with that person?

    Basically...................I feel your pain
    Last edited by doughesson; 03-30-2007 at 01:05 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DeputyMarshal View Post
    Small correction: if they aren't allowed to train with you, it isn't unilaterally because of "the union". If they aren't allowed to train with you because of some contract provision, it's because both the Clark County Fire Department (or whoever represents "management") and "the union" agreed to make it so.
    How about "at the instigation of the union"?

    One side or the other brought this notion forward as a negotiating point. And I strongly suspect it was NOT the county.

    This has always been one of my particular pet peeves regarding union guys who gripe about low training levels among volunteers on combo departments.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TNFF319 View Post
    I became a vollie in Jan. The second meeting I attended they gave me gear and went over hgow to get dressed, how to don scba, and how to operate the preconnect.
    Are you allowed to do interior work?

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    it is weird here. clark county is such a big department the union said that there training officers couldn't actually go into a live burn training since they are not "Fire fighters" the union here is a pain they wont even let a paid fire fighter be a volunteer here. we get hand me down equipment. there is 13 volly stations and they have there favs. and it shows. i asked if we could wear the clark county fire shirts without the union logo they siad as a volunteer we are not even allowed to use clark county on our shirts. but yet all of our rigs say clark county station 83. so we have our issues we just have to take it one day at a time.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ISfirebear83 View Post
    the union here is a pain they wont even let a paid fire fighter be a volunteer here.
    If "that union" is the IAFF, the rule applies everywhere. You can't belong to both the IAFF and a competing organization. They can't stop you from being a volunteer but you have to chose which organization you'd prefer to belong to.

    Quote Originally Posted by ISfirebear83 View Post
    i asked if we could wear the clark county fire shirts without the union logo they siad as a volunteer we are not even allowed to use clark county on our shirts.
    "They" (the union) have no control over who wears a County shirt. That's up to the County.

    Quote Originally Posted by ISfirebear83 View Post
    so we have our issues we just have to take it one day at a time.
    IMHO, you need to sort those issues out and determine which ones really ahve anything to do with "the union" and which ones don't. It sounds more like your real issues are with the County.
    "Nemo Plus Voluptatis Quam Nos Habant"

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