1. #1
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    Default How long do we wait for volunteers to arrive?

    How long are you guys waiting for volunteers to arrive? We are a combination department. Our county uses a 5/5 system. We get dispatched and get 5 minutes to get out. After the first 5 minutes, we get another 5 minutes to get out the door. After a total of 10 minutes, another department gets dispatched in our place. If we can get out staffed, then we can cancel the other department.

    We are looking into requiring the volunteers to be on the schedule 24 hours a week minimum.

    We use a free schedule program offered by www.iamresponding.com


    How long do you guys wait? Anyone else schedule crews? Anyone use the responder system at www.iamresponding.com ?

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    We just started using IAMRESPONDING. I'd think this was a pretty decent system (minus some technical issues) for a dept. who makes the apparatus wait until seats are filled. We too are acombo dept, but we run out immediately with what we can safely ( ) staff and let off duty and call members staff remaining units.

    As for the iamresponding.com site: I liked it at 0230 hrs. when I both my crews were out on medical calls and I had to recall off duty and call members. Within 4 minutes I knew I would be able to staff an engine, tower and another ambulance as membres arrived. Downsides: schedluing is not really that easy or user friendly, and as an admin person you have to login over and over as you make changes. I think once its been tweaked it will be a real asset.

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    Why buy a program when members could just radio in that they are responding? Thats how we do it now, and I like this method.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TNFF319 View Post
    Why buy a program when members could just radio in that they are responding? Thats how we do it now, and I like this method.

    Some departments barely have the $$$ to supply pagers to their members, let alone a portable radio for each member, one reason that I came up with
    NJ FFII/EMT-B

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    Each member throughout the county is issued a radio when they join. All of the departments can talk to each other and when tones go out the whole county gets tones since all use the same radio frequency throughout the county. Whenever a department is dispatched to call, whoever is going to get the engine gets on the radio and says that are enroute for the engine. Members still respond to the station to man the engine. Once the driver gets to the station the engine rolls out whether or not he is by himself or a full crew is on board. One the engine goes enroute all other members proceeds directly to the scene.

    Now once the first tones go out you can guarantee that within 30 seconds to a min later another department is going to get on the radio and ask dispatch if anyone from the other department has gone for their engine yet. If not the other department can put themselves enroute either until the other department responds or can proceed to the scene. It works out pretty well.

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    White board, crews names, hours available each day, updated weekly.
    Works well for us.
    POC crew with 15 in station......comms is onto us in about 6 mins if we havent passed a code 1......minimum 4 on our pumpers to respond. All members must live within 3kms (bout 2 miles) of station

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    Quote Originally Posted by KevinFFVFD View Post
    Once the driver gets to the station the engine rolls out whether or not he is by himself or a full crew is on board. One the engine goes enroute all other members proceeds directly to the scene.
    So if the Engineer isn't waiting for anyone, and everyone proceeds direct-to-scene POV once the Engine's responding, why not cut the radio chatter entirely? When the Engine goes, it goes. Until it does, you head to the station.

    Now once the first tones go out you can guarantee that within 30 seconds to a min later another department is going to get on the radio and ask dispatch if anyone from the other department has gone for their engine yet. If not the other department can put themselves enroute either until the other department responds or can proceed to the scene. It works out pretty well.
    Was the other department toned also? Then why're they butting into your business and trying to jump your call? I can see if there's no unit marked up within say, 3 minutes, to call and ask if they'd like an assist, but 30 seconds after initial tones? Ridiculous.
    My opinions might coincide with someone of importance's POV... I wouldn't know, since I never bothered to ask. My policy is: "Don't ask, don't care."

    IACOJ--West Coast PITA

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    Our's is pretty basic....establish a duty crew roster and schedule the duty crews, day-by-day...week-by-week, whatever....If your "duty crew" you have to be available to respond, if you can't respond you have someone (honours system) from another crew respond for you....basic, but it works for us.
    A vomiting Firefighter is an ugly Firefighter.

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    We're typically rolling out of the hall in 2-3 minutes, 99% of the time under 5 minutes from tones. Up to the officer in the first unit to decide if staffing is too low and we need additional people with a second page to our guys, or a mutual aid call. Depending on what rolls, we will have 10 guys in three trucks rolling in under 10 minutes virtually all of the time with stragglers responding POV.
    When you're talking volunteer, not POC, schedules can be too onerous. It may work for evenings, nights and weekends, but it's too tough to manage with a wide variety of regular jobs found within our crew. Several of us can be out of town for work and you can't spend an hour on the phone every morning you find out you have to leave town trying to find someone else who might not have to leave town also.
    Just my $0.02
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    So many possiblities to answer your question. Every place is a little different. My initial questions are: How many paid guys staff the station, how many calls do you run a month, and how many volunteers to you have?

    My initial response is that if you have a full crew, leave the station right away. The down side is that could prevent the volunteers from responding, which is probably happening anyway since you're asking the question.

    I've see duty crews work several ways. Either by signing up or being assigned to a crew that runs every so many days. Both can work. I don't think that a high-tech solution is necessarliy the best. As someone mentioned, a white board and marker to sign up may be the place to start.

    As for what we do, our county is 100% volunteer. When dispatched, we leave as soon as we have a crew. If there is no unit from the dispatched station on the air in 5 minutes, the next due is dispatched.

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    Quote Originally Posted by the1141man View Post
    So if the Engineer isn't waiting for anyone, and everyone proceeds direct-to-scene POV once the Engine's responding, why not cut the radio chatter entirely? When the Engine goes, it goes. Until it does, you head to the station.

    Was the other department toned also? Then why're they butting into your business and trying to jump your call? I can see if there's no unit marked up within say, 3 minutes, to call and ask if they'd like an assist, but 30 seconds after initial tones? Ridiculous.
    The ďengineerĒ is not at the station. Throughout the district we have about 5 or 6 people who are certified to drive. When tones hit whoever is available to go get the truck gets on the radio and says so. That way you donít have 6 drivers rushing to get the engine.

    To your second comment, itís not ridiculous when you have some departments that notoriously do not answer their tones. Usually in our county if within one minute or so if there is no response then more than likely nobody is going to respond from that department. So itís not jumping the call, itís just getting someone enroute quickly.

    You have to remember, the whole ď3 minutes we wait for someone to respondĒ deal means that persons house is burning for a whole 3 minutes and not the first person as gone enroute yet. When itís your house on fire you try and let someone tell you that and see how you feel that the fire department took their time getting to your house because they didnít want to step on the toes of another department who did not respond.
    Last edited by KevinFFVFD; 09-11-2007 at 06:32 PM.

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    Default Responder system/radios/waiting

    We have a combo dept. We just started using the responder system about 2 months ago. Our career staff seems to love it. They can look up at the responder board (just a monitor connected to an internet computer) and see who is responding, and to where (station, scene, etc).

    I guess its fortunate to have radios, but I don't want to carry a radio and we couldn't afford it. The $725 or so we pay each year for iamresponding.com seems to work just fine (cheaper than a $1,500 radio for each member).

    The real issue is, whether its radios, the iamresponding.com system, or a megaphone, how long do we wait for people are are not coming?

    Frankly, what I like best about the iamresponding.com system is that they DO wait for me because they know we are coming.

    I should note that if you like a whiteboard scheduling, the iamresponding.com system gives their schedule away for free. Its not the best scheduling program in the world, but it is free and viewable on any internet connection.

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    To your second comment, itís not ridiculous when you have some departments that notoriously do not answer their tones. Usually in our county if within one minute or so if there is no response then more than likely nobody is going to respond from that department. So itís not jumping the call, itís just getting someone enroute quickly.
    Then your County needs to step in and set a response standard... say one heavy out the doors in 3 mins or it's considered a "non-response", period, and the call is assigned to the next-in company.
    If a department/company exceeds 5% "non-response" on its calls, then it is put on a "probationary" status for say 6 months. If the non-responses continue, the company is pulled from the run cards. Period. No games, no d!cking around, you $h!t or get off the pot.

    My point is that 3 minutes is a very reasonable standard for an all-volly department to get a fully-staffed heavy out the door. 30 seconds might be reasonable for a full-career staffed station to get out...or even a 24/7 staffed combination dept if the vollies respond POV and meet the apparatus at-scene.

    If there's such a concern about non-responses, here's a better way to do what you're doin right now:
    Neighboring departments that know the dispatched department is a "non-responsive" one should stay off the air, and proceed "quietly" to their stations, gear up, and get ready. If the dispatched dept hasn't marked up by the time the neighboring units are ready to go (2-3 mins since dispatch), then they should come up on the air and advise they're ready to respond if needed.

    There's no point in sitting at home with an HT in hand calling dispatch 30 seconds into it and asking if they want the next-in to respond. Either go get ready, or sit at home and do nothing. Yacking on the radio about it accomplishes nothing.
    My opinions might coincide with someone of importance's POV... I wouldn't know, since I never bothered to ask. My policy is: "Don't ask, don't care."

    IACOJ--West Coast PITA

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by the1141man View Post
    Then your County needs to step in and set a response standard... say one heavy out the doors in 3 mins or it's considered a "non-response", period, and the call is assigned to the next-in company.
    If a department/company exceeds 5% "non-response" on its calls, then it is put on a "probationary" status for say 6 months. If the non-responses continue, the company is pulled from the run cards. Period. No games, no d!cking around, you $h!t or get off the pot.
    Playing devil's advocate here, this would shut down the entire fire service in the county which I volly. At my station in particular, we have 72 square miles that we protect, but it's rural, and out membership base is spread thoughout that 72 sq mile area. We have a handful of members (including yours truly) that live very close to the station, but the rest are at least 5-6 minutes out from the station. With varying work schedules and the like, there's not going to be a guarantee we could be out of the door in 3 minutes, 95% of the time as you propose.

    Our county doesn't have the financial means for career staff, nor the call volume either. Our response (in terms of staffing) is generally adequate, but to put a 3 min/95% rule on some rural VFD's can be asking too much. I know it might work in your locality, but it wouldn't work in ours, no matter how much we'd try.

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    Box--I wasn't stating that should be a national standard. I was merely suggesting an alternative for Young Mr. Kevin, since apparently he feels 3 mins is far too long a response time for his particular jurisdiction... hence why he approves of neighboring departments coming up on the air 30 seconds after the initial dispatch, asking if they can take the call instead...

    As Kevin himself said in an earlier post, supporting the practice:
    You have to remember, the whole ď3 minutes we wait for someone to respondĒ deal means that persons house is burning for a whole 3 minutes and not the first person as gone enroute yet. When itís your house on fire you try and let someone tell you that and see how you feel that the fire department took their time getting to your house because they didnít want to step on the toes of another department who did not respond.
    It's Kevin's issue, I just suggested a practical solution based upon the information he gave for his area in his posts.
    My opinions might coincide with someone of importance's POV... I wouldn't know, since I never bothered to ask. My policy is: "Don't ask, don't care."

    IACOJ--West Coast PITA

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    1411, thanks for the additional post. It's now clearer that your intention was specific to his jurisdiction...that's what I get for reading the forums after returning from a 04:30 AFA!

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    I can't post a quote from another forum, but I will say........................


    SPAM


    http://www.centralpafire.com/forum/s...ad.php?t=20910

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    Lightbulb

    I thought this might have been SPAM too, but in the end this is a realistic solution to some depts issues and therefore I chose to post my thoughts. We're trialling it and are fairly happy, so if you'd like I can start a non-biased thread as I have no ties to iamresponding other than being a trial user.

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    It may be a valid service, but the way its been presented is dishonest in the least.

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    Trouble with that is when you get new members,sometimes they get all eat up with talking on the radio and tie up traffic when the officers need to know what,when and where it's going on.
    My old department had a policy of when responding,let the officers talk to Central Dispatch and let them know they're going to the station or to the scene.Everyone else should be hauling axes(within reason,of course) to the station.
    Most of us lived close enough to the station that we were out the door in less than 4 minutes.I was told NFPA recommends volunteers be out the door in 6.

    Quote Originally Posted by TNFF319 View Post
    Why buy a program when members could just radio in that they are responding? Thats how we do it now, and I like this method.

  21. #21
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    Depends on what your paid staffing is. If its a minimum of 2, roll the rig right away and have the volly's go to the scene. With 2 you can at least do a quick grab rescue or put water on the fire from a door or window. The situation can go from bad to VERY bad in the time frame you stated.

    Our volly's have a minimum number of hours they have to ride per month. Nost do 12-24 hour blocks, and they have a sign up sheet posted for each month starting on the 1st. Different for use though as we have a minimum of 3 (usually 4) paid on the rigs so we dont wait for anything.

    When I started in '83 we only had one paid on duty at one of our out stations. There was a group of volly's (me included) who would call the duty guy and let him know we were available and he would wait on the ramp for us for 3-4 minutes. If we couldnt get there in time, we went to the scene.
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  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by the1141man View Post
    Then your County needs to step in and set a response standard... say one heavy out the doors in 3 mins or it's considered a "non-response", period, and the call is assigned to the next-in company.
    If a department/company exceeds 5% "non-response" on its calls, then it is put on a "probationary" status for say 6 months. If the non-responses continue, the company is pulled from the run cards. Period. No games, no d!cking around, you $h!t or get off the pot.

    My point is that 3 minutes is a very reasonable standard for an all-volly department to get a fully-staffed heavy out the door. 30 seconds might be reasonable for a full-career staffed station to get out...or even a 24/7 staffed combination dept if the vollies respond POV and meet the apparatus at-scene.

    If there's such a concern about non-responses, here's a better way to do what you're doin right now:
    Neighboring departments that know the dispatched department is a "non-responsive" one should stay off the air, and proceed "quietly" to their stations, gear up, and get ready. If the dispatched dept hasn't marked up by the time the neighboring units are ready to go (2-3 mins since dispatch), then they should come up on the air and advise they're ready to respond if needed.

    There's no point in sitting at home with an HT in hand calling dispatch 30 seconds into it and asking if they want the next-in to respond. Either go get ready, or sit at home and do nothing. Yacking on the radio about it accomplishes nothing.
    Good points. I will be sure to try and maybe bring some of these ideas to the next meeting.

  23. #23
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    Default Scheduling

    Are volunteers in your departments opposed to required scheduling?

    We are trying to create a mandatory schedule requirment of "Four on the Board" meaning we try to have 4 firefighters on schedule at all times.

    Most are in favor of it. Older people are against it. "Not the tradition"

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    We're an all Volunteer Dept., we get initial dispatch, we have 2 mins to acknowledge the call, then another tone, 2 more minutes, then our tones and mutual aid tone drop, if we acknowledge the call then we have up to 5 minutes before asking if they need to dispatch mutal aid. Our guys do not call on the radio, or phone to let us know if they are responding or for use to throw gear on an engine, that is needless radio traffic tieing up the radio. If we don't have enough guys, then we call mutual aid.

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    Quote Originally Posted by doughesson View Post
    Trouble with that is when you get new members,sometimes they get all eat up with talking on the radio and tie up traffic when the officers need to know what,when and where it's going on.
    My old department had a policy of when responding,let the officers talk to Central Dispatch and let them know they're going to the station or to the scene.Everyone else should be hauling axes(within reason,of course) to the station.
    Most of us lived close enough to the station that we were out the door in less than 4 minutes.I was told NFPA recommends volunteers be out the door in 6.
    Up here in Ontario, the government came up with this brilliant idea of 10in10. They wanted 10 firefighters ON SCENE within 10 minutes of the tone. Sure, that works in town, but what is so typical of the brains in Southern Ontario (with no vision north of the pavement and big lights) they don't take into account that there is a rural side to Ontario. We can cover the town the main hall is in with 10in10 but there are parts of our area that are 20 miles from the hall. 10in10? Buy us a freakin helicopter! (and leave it running 24/7 so we don't have to wait for it to get ready to go)
    Nobody ever called the fire department for doing something smart.

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