1. #1

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    Default Problems with VFD, need some help here...

    I'm a firefighter for my local VOLUNTEER Fire Rescue company. I make my calls, I make my drills, I make my sub sales, I try to make my work details, and when we set up for fairs for dime pitches, I make those If I can. My problem is this, my job requires me to wake up at 4 in the morning, I have tons of work to do around the house, and I want to spend time with my wife.

    However, I get griped at when I stay until I gotta leave. For example, last week I worked a dime pitch at our local 4th of july fair, I told my chief that I can only stay from 5-8pm. That's 3 hours, the next thing I know, he blows up. He tells me that he wakes up at 5am, goes to work, comes home long enough to take a shower and eat, leaves for the dime pitch, stays from 5 until 11 then goes home. BTW, he's married too.

    My job is a very dangerous one as I work in a foundry. He calls me on my cell phone, or harrasses me on my home phone, prys and trys to find out what I'm doing. The moment I say I'm doing something with my wife, or doing housework, he expects me to drop what I'm doing.

    Am I wrong to feel like I'm being used and abused by my VOLUNTEER Fire Dept.?

    I love being a firefighter, but this issue is making me push myself to another company.

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    When somebody will not leave me alone, I will start talking about all the "bills" that I have, and how "tight" money is getting. Then I will start hinting about maybe "If I could just get a little loan to get by until my overtime catches me up."
    Usually this will cause the annoying party to retreat in haste, and my phone will be quiet for a while.. If they offer to make a loan, (unlikely) just state that you "should be alright for now, with all the overtime" you are supposed to be getting..

    As far as working at the VFD, it is sad, but true, if you do help out with things outside of fighting fires, you will be asked to help more and more. Good help is hard to find, especially for free..

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    Well, we've had some of the same issues with some members of our department. People have to realize that not everybody lives and breaths for the fire department, and everybody contributes in different ways. I have pointed out that if somebody can run 1 or 2 calls a week, those are calls that somebody else doesn't have to run.

    I've had people complain that I don't do this or that. At the same time, I'm one of the top 10 runners and hold 2 officer positions. When I ask them what I should stop doing in order to meet their standards, they shut up.

    Bottom line, if you are meeting the minimum standards for membership, they can't complain. Tell them straight up that you have other priorities; you will help when you can, but your family and job come before the department. Most departments operate on the 80-20 rule. 80% of the work is done by 20% of the people. The 20% needs to be grateful that they don't have to do 100% of the work.

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    as i was told, the key word in a volunteer fire department is VOLUNTEER. if you dont have time then simply dont go. if it gets to the point where the fire department is messing up your personal life then you need to make changes.

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    Quote Originally Posted by havok92 View Post
    I'm a firefighter for my local VOLUNTEER Fire Rescue company. I make my calls, I make my drills, I make my sub sales, I try to make my work details, and when we set up for fairs for dime pitches, I make those If I can. My problem is this, my job requires me to wake up at 4 in the morning, I have tons of work to do around the house, and I want to spend time with my wife.
    Sounds like you are a good volunteer meeting your obligations.

    However, I get griped at when I stay until I gotta leave. For example, last week I worked a dime pitch at our local 4th of july fair, I told my chief that I can only stay from 5-8pm. That's 3 hours, the next thing I know, he blows up. He tells me that he wakes up at 5am, goes to work, comes home long enough to take a shower and eat, leaves for the dime pitch, stays from 5 until 11 then goes home. BTW, he's married too.
    Well, what are the requirements for being at the dime pitch? Did every member work it or are just the one's that do expected to work extra hour

    As for your chief comparing his work and volunteering to yours,if you are doing what is required of you, who cares? If you are meeting requirements he has no ground to stand on...perhaps his griping is why he is lacking in help at these fundraisers.

    My job is a very dangerous one as I work in a foundry. He calls me on my cell phone, or harrasses me on my home phone, prys and trys to find out what I'm doing. The moment I say I'm doing something with my wife, or doing housework, he expects me to drop what I'm doing.
    He can expect anything he wants...doesn't mean he is going to get it does it? Frankly if it was me I would start keeping track of the calls and the content to protect myself. He has no right to harass you or to make demands of you that exceed memberhip requirements. Being a volunteer means balancing work, family, leaisure and the fire department and only you can decide how that balance plays out.

    Am I wrong to feel like I'm being used and abused by my VOLUNTEER Fire Dept.?
    If you are in fact being used and abused then you have every right to feel that you are.

    I love being a firefighter, but this issue is making me push myself to another company.
    And maybe that would be a better fit in the long run.
    One of the greatest problems in volunteer FD's today is personnel. How to get enough and then keep them when you do. At times chiefs see somebody willing to work and make the mistake of pushing them too hard and eventually chasing them away. Seen it happen too many times. sounds like your circumstance. Maybe it is time to sit down and talk to your chief man to man.

    FyredUp

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    I agree with Kevin. It's VOLUNTEER. If all you can put in is 3 hours than thats it. Nothing they can say or do about it. Plain and simple. If your Chief doesn't understand that he has some issues.
    If someone with multiple personalities threatens to kill himself, is it considered a hostage situation?

    Ryan

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    Post Set priorities

    havok92,
    You need to set then let your chief know that you have priorities in your life.
    My dad taught me a long time ago that when you join the volunteer fire service, your priorities must be:
    1. Family
    2. Job
    3. VFD
    We have both seen too many marrages ruined by ignoring the family.
    Yes, it is nice when you can make calls and make a positive impact on some one else's life, but you have to think about your own life, too.
    If your chief has a hard time dealing with this, maybe he needs to get a life out side of the VFD and you might want to start looking to joining another department.
    "Your spill is our thrill."

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    Quote Originally Posted by havok92 View Post
    I'm a firefighter for my local VOLUNTEER Fire Rescue company. I make my calls, I make my drills, I make my sub sales, I try to make my work details, and when we set up for fairs for dime pitches, I make those If I can. My problem is this, my job requires me to wake up at 4 in the morning, I have tons of work to do around the house, and I want to spend time with my wife.

    However, I get griped at when I stay until I gotta leave. For example, last week I worked a dime pitch at our local 4th of july fair, I told my chief that I can only stay from 5-8pm. That's 3 hours, the next thing I know, he blows up. He tells me that he wakes up at 5am, goes to work, comes home long enough to take a shower and eat, leaves for the dime pitch, stays from 5 until 11 then goes home. BTW, he's married too.

    My job is a very dangerous one as I work in a foundry. He calls me on my cell phone, or harrasses me on my home phone, prys and trys to find out what I'm doing. The moment I say I'm doing something with my wife, or doing housework, he expects me to drop what I'm doing.

    Am I wrong to feel like I'm being used and abused by my VOLUNTEER Fire Dept.?

    I love being a firefighter, but this issue is making me push myself to another company.
    how many volunteer do you have we have 50 and the same 7 to 10 guys show up all the time we do what we can and go home we just tell our chief that we our lucky we got that much done we stoped have ing are only fund riser for 2yrs because no one would help the 7 to 10 guys spoke up and now we have 10 to15 but you have to remember and tell your chief im dedicated and ill be there 99% of the time but it said VOLUNTEER FIRE DEPT.

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    I hate to exaggerate, but if I have said it once, I have said it 976,342 times: "When the VFD starts paying my mortgage, the VFD may then dictate my schedule."

    Many people have taken issue with me over this statement for years, both on these forums, and in person. My reponse has always been an unchaged "I give what I can. The roof over my head, the bread on my table, and the health insurance that keeps my and my family healthy all depend on me being 100% for my full-time job.

    Then they bitch "well maybe you should just give it up."

    What? And not participate at all? I then challenge them with this statement: "Any volunteer fire chief worth half his weight in these times of lapsing volunteer systems, should be greatful for any time at all that any of his members can contribute.

    Now, understand again that I do NOT condone using this as an excuse to miss drills or vital training excercises. Everyone has the responsibility to train and stay proficient in their knowledge, skills and abilities.
    "Loyalty Above all Else. Except Honor."

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    Sounds like to me that your chief, himself, is burning out. He is desperately trying to find someone that can step up and fill in. Like others have said, you need to have a heart to heart talk with your chief and let him know that you are doing the best that you can at the present time.

    Maybe you could recruit some more help with these functions. They don't need to be "firefighters". You could enlist the help of your wife, kids, or your neighbors.

    Good luck and stay safe!!
    Just someone trying to help! (And by the way....Thanks for YOUR help!)

    Aggressive does not have to equal stupid.

    ** "The comments made here are this person's views and possibly that of the organizations to which I am affiliated" **

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    Sounds like you need to get more people involved in your fd. How many people belong?

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    I hear the "Where were you last night?" comments. My hat is off to the members that rarely miss a call. I'm not that guy. Some folks have a hard time saying "no". It sounds like you're a reliable member of your department. Why else would the chief rely on you so much? Sometimes things are taken for granted. Maybe that's the problem here. I suggest talking to your chief. We have our own "go to" guys. They put in alot of time and effort. Some truly enjoy it. Others, because they feel obligated. Regardless, it's up to you to find the balance.

    Shayne
    "Being talked to death is a terrible way to die"

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    A good Chief will be the first one to notify you of your priorities, especially if you have them out of order. They were already stated above, but I personally modify it a bit:

    1. Family
    2. Employment
    3. Other

    It is up to each person to prioritize their other interests. Fire Department is not automatically #3.

    I have actually had a Captain review my activiy and suggest that perhaps I was around a bit too much lately. In fact, my wife and children were on a mini-vacation with her family while I was runing a long string of 12 hour shifts at my "real" job, so I took an equally long string of night shifts to fill some schedule holes and supplement crews at a few stations while they were out of town. He was OK with that explanation.

    That, my friend, is a good Captain, and quite likely our next Chief.
    Last edited by ElectricHoser; 07-10-2007 at 02:20 PM.
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    You have to put your family first. It doesn't matter how much you love your department, your family comes first. My husband and I are both on the same paid/on-call department and we took a lot of flack from a deputy chief one day when we said we couldn't help with fire training to celebrate our wedding anniversary. The thing is, you have to do what's best for you and your family and then do what's best for the department.

    In our department, we've started to notice some problems with coverage for calls during the day because so many of us work outside the city. 50 years ago, when our department was founded, the department members each had one job but in the 21st century, the members of our department have more than one job plus families to support. My department requires 75% training attendance, 40% attendance for fire calls, and to take 2 on-call shifts per month for medical calls. That's not a bad deal, but sometimes that can be tough. If all the fire calls come in during the day while you're at work, you're screwed as far as percentages go. I'm an officer and my percentage for fire calls last month was ZERO just because I was working out of the city (and I can't leave my job during the day for fire calls) when those calls came in. That doesn't mean my husband or I try any less to be where we're needed when it comes to fire department stuff. My husband works 50 hours a week. He lost out on a promotion because the other candidate is single, has no life and is on-call 15-20 shifts per month (instead of the required 2 shifts per month) and my husband takes 4-5 on call shifts per month. Unfortunately, as angering and frustrating as things like that are, you have to just do what you can do, put your family first and do your best at the fire station. It sounds like you have a very supportive wife when it comes to your time at the fire department--be grateful for that. I work with guys that aren't so lucky with their wives when it comes to that.

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    Bottom line is that your family does come first. My husband and I have both had to educate our deputy chief on this subject more than once. We both have good training attendance, keep up on our certifications, fill our required on-call medical shifts per month and still take flack every once in a while for attending a family function over a fire department function. Our department also has a pretty even mix of unmarried members and married members. The married members have different priorities and sometimes it seems like the unmarried members are down on the married ones for not taking 20 on-call shifts a month or spending every waking moment at the station. Unfortunately, those unmarried members simply don't understand that some of us have homes, families and other responsibilities in addition to our full-time jobs to take care of. At times it can make for an uncomfortable working situation. My husband and I have talked (b!*ched) at length about this type of "misunderstanding" and we decided that as long as we met the requirements of the department: 75% attendance at training per month, filled 2 medical on-call shifts per month, and responded to 40% of the fire calls for the month, we are doing our part and have nothing to be ashamed of. We both hold down full time jobs--my husband works anywhere from 50-60 hours a week--and I go to school full time. We just had to decide that we were putting in a good share of effort and if other people (namely those single guys) couldn't deal with it, that was too bad for them. But never forget, we love firefighting, but family ALWAYS COMES FIRST!

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    I Think Its Time For you to run for Chief to change the way your Dept. is ran

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    Thumbs up

    Quote Originally Posted by mdcook View Post
    havok92,
    You need to set then let your chief know that you have priorities in your life.
    My dad taught me a long time ago that when you join the volunteer fire service, your priorities must be:
    1. Family
    2. Job
    3. VFD
    We have both seen too many marrages ruined by ignoring the family.
    Yes, it is nice when you can make calls and make a positive impact on some one else's life, but you have to think about your own life, too.
    If your chief has a hard time dealing with this, maybe he needs to get a life out side of the VFD and you might want to start looking to joining another department.
    I think that says it all!
    "Courage is the resistance to fear, the mastery of fear, not the lack of fear." Mark Twain
    "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough." Uknown

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    Not talking directly about FD but the 1st rule of recruiting a "volunteer" to do something, organize something, run something is to recruit the busiest people around. The ones that are already doing things. You don't bother with the lazy layabout hammock loungers. The busy people are who you can count on to manage their time and get things done in a responsible, reliable manner.

    But if that's you, you have to also be able to say no on occasion. Maybe that's to block out a couple months for ____, or Monday nights for ____. etc

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    Nice to know my chief and dept isnt the only one like this. My wife and I have the same problem. We told our chief we werent running after 10pm when we have to work the next day. We are both full time paramedics and our service requires us to try and have 6 hours of sleep before our shifts. We have to get up at 0330 most days. Our chief whined and said that wasnt good enough, every body else runs all night and goes to work in the morning, I reminded him they all work desk jobs and if I make a mistake in my patient care due to being tired and my service found out I was playing firefighter all night, bye bye job. Job and family come before the fire dept. I love being a firefighter and on my off days (we only work 14 days a month) I do my best to be in the area as much as possible, since our day staffing at best is 4-6 people, but before you say I dont do enough go talk to the officer and other guys we never see unless it is a big call or he threatens to pull their gear.
    Firefighter/Paramedic Seven Hills Fire Rescue Mobile,AL

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    Default Enough said

    At my FD we have our stuff straight. We tell every new guy work and family comes first we average 100-120 calls a months. We ask for 10% of the calls for the month be met. We asked that they show up for 50% of drills. We ask that they complete thier probationary test Which are your 30 day 60 day and 90 day. I'm a SR. Fireman and act up when no officers show up or when one goes on vacation. The only problem I have with new Volunteer fireman. They don't train like they should. All else is fine with me. Family work comes first. If you get to busy you gotta start thinking about what comes first. We had guys that couldn't meet the 10% which is easy. But if you are that busy let someone else carry the weight and use your gear. But if you make what is required of you there should be no complaint. There should be no calling you at work. There is a process your chief should be doing. Oral warning at the fire station with another officer. Written warning. Then a Termination hearing if you are not meeting your required runs and trainning. Fundrasing should be a Whole Fire dept. thing not just for a couple of guys put in what you can. Your chief should get back down to his professinalism. If he pushes still I would find out what governing body requlates your fire dept. and go from there. But I would start getting your run reports of how many calls you ran. I would get a report of how many times you were at a fire dept. functions. So you have proof of your runs and activity at the FD. If you can't get a report on that there should be no regulation or push by your chief.. What bothers me is that your chief will call you at work were you have a to be focused on your persnal safety. I would personally set ground rules no phone calls at work and no phone calls late in the evening. Just what I would do. There is a line you cross. Sounds like your chief crossed it when he called you.

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    We have several members in our department that eat, sleep and breath it. They tend to expect others to do the same. Everytime a new member comes on they push them to be just as dedicated. You really have to let them know where YOU draw the line. As long as you are meeting your minimum requirements they should not push you to do more but many times they do.
    I have a great deal on my plate between my day job, my family, caring for an elderly parent, etc. I give what time I can and that's it. I make my minimum requirements but its tough.

    The thing I hate about my department is they do so many extra activities that we have to help with. Standbys for events, Country Jam, Rock Jam, Yearly Retiree Dinner, Thanksgiving Dinner, Picnics, Fill the Boot, Haunted House, extra classes or presentations, parades, and it goes on and on. I get tired of all of that stuff. I want to spend that time at home. I think responding to calls and attending training nights is enough. I do very little of the extra stuff so I get griped at for not participating. I don't let it get to me. I know what I can give of my time.
    S.Davis
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    Quote Originally Posted by havok92 View Post
    I'm a firefighter for my local VOLUNTEER Fire Rescue company. I make my calls, I make my drills, I make my sub sales, I try to make my work details, and when we set up for fairs for dime pitches, I make those If I can. My problem is this, my job requires me to wake up at 4 in the morning, I have tons of work to do around the house, and I want to spend time with my wife.

    However, I get griped at when I stay until I gotta leave. For example, last week I worked a dime pitch at our local 4th of july fair, I told my chief that I can only stay from 5-8pm. That's 3 hours, the next thing I know, he blows up. He tells me that he wakes up at 5am, goes to work, comes home long enough to take a shower and eat, leaves for the dime pitch, stays from 5 until 11 then goes home. BTW, he's married too.

    My job is a very dangerous one as I work in a foundry. He calls me on my cell phone, or harrasses me on my home phone, prys and trys to find out what I'm doing. The moment I say I'm doing something with my wife, or doing housework, he expects me to drop what I'm doing.

    Am I wrong to feel like I'm being used and abused by my VOLUNTEER Fire Dept.?

    I love being a firefighter, but this issue is making me push myself to another company.

    I wish I had people who would do that much. most just don't show at all at least you forth the effort.

  23. #23

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    Default you are a VOLUNTEER!!!!!

    tell your white hat to relax. your family and your job comes first. i would bet that there are plenty of your fellow ff's who know that they can count on you to be there when you can and give 100%.

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    Well said Eng34FF. This isn't a lack of dedication. It's about priorities.

    havok92, I had the same problem when I was volunteering. At the time, my oldest, now 12, was just about 6 months old. One of the "newer" members, decided I should be setting up at the yearly fundraiser when he was. Even called me at the house wondering why I wasn't there. I tried to explain that my wife was working and I had babysitting duty. He "suggested" that I get a sitter and come to the grounds. Needless to say, when the Mrs. got home I immediately went to the grounds and 'splained to him what my priorities were. Just like everyon stated here: Family, job, volunteering. This "yo-yo" had just joined the previous year and he & his new bride were spending all there time at the grounds. He missed the fact that I had been at the grounds setting up every year for 15+ years. Apparently I got through to him, because a few years later he had a family and couldn't make it to as many fundraisers, calls, etc.

    havok92, an open discussion with the chief, or the entire body of members should lay out how you feel. If they don't like it, take a leave of absence from the department. Then come back in a few months. As long as you put in as much time as you feel you can, that's good enough.
    FTM-PTB-EGH-RTB

    Stay low, keep pushing in, and stay safe.

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