1. #1
    MembersZone Subscriber
    KevinFFVFD's Avatar
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    Jun 2006
    Vicksburg, Mississippi, USA

    Default Working in a large department.....

    Hey everyone. I plan on going career in a few years when I finish my degree. I want to be on a large department which is why I was considering Jackson (Mississippi) Fire Department. All my life though I have been around the Vicksburg Fire Department which has 7 stations and around 140 firefighters and paramedics (the department my father was on). However I have always looked at departments like Jackson, Memphis, and Birmingham. But my whole firefighting experience has been with a small volunteer fire department and some of the guys say don't go to a big department, but more than likely thats just because they are not familiar with a large department. So here is my questions...

    What are the pros/cons on being with a large department?

    I also want to be somewhere with a high call volume. I'm not the kind of person to wish something bad would happen, but I do not want to be sitting at the station for the whole shift.

    Thanks everyone. Stay safe out there.

  2. #2
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    Join Date
    Dec 2000


    I work for a dept. that runs approx 25,000 calls per year out of 18 fire houses. We have 16 pumper companies, 3 trucks, and 3 quints. We also run EMS with 8 active rigs and 3 in reserve. I would say we are a medium to large dept. We have about 450 sworn personnel. I would guess that 35-40% of our total calls are handled by 6 or 7 fire houses. We are not entirely busy but it is a big jump from my previous dept that ran 1500 calls a year out of 4 fire houses. 1 pumper, 3 quints, and a truck with 60 sworn members. 2 of the 4 houses ran 75-80% of the calls

    Advantages of a large dept.
    -Not as micro managed
    -Good call volume
    -More personnel for a stronger Union
    -Better pay
    -More chances for advancement
    -Better choices on working in a slow house or a busy one.
    -Not every Chief knows you

    Small Dept.
    -nice family atmosphere all around.
    -you know everyone
    -everyone gets equal shots at specialty training

    Disadvantage Large
    -Tougher to get into the busy houses
    -Sometimes too busy
    -Won't know as many people for networking
    -Harder to get adavanced specialty training
    -A lot more conflicting personalities

    -Not enough call volume
    -Very micromanaged
    -Big egos in a small pond
    -Don't get enough experience
    -Pay wasn't nearly as good
    -Everyone knows your business.

  3. #3
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    33motor's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    San Antonio, TX.


    I don't think there is anything bad about working for a large dpet. I've worked for 3 paid dept's. My first was 5 stations, and i forget the pop, but up around 100,000 durring the day. Second was only 3 stations, and a pop of 33,000. My current and last is 50 stations (with more in the works) and a pop of over 1.5 million.

    I see no dissadvantages here. I get the opportunities to take further training if i want etc. Conflicting perosnalities are solvable by moving if you need to. At least you have more choices to move to, where in a small dept you really never get away from an a-hole. Pay is better most all of the time. You can just about choose the call volume you want.

    Nope, I can't think of anything that's a disadvantage over my old smaller depts except one thing.. my buddy still works for one of the smaller ones. The reason why is, he believed what too many others did, .. that it was impossible to get into the bigger one. I wish he would have listened and tested with me, but he didn't. Now he's too old to get in here. He's a Lt. out there now, and there is nothing wrong with that dept.. but it would be nice to be able to work together again. Don't let anyone tell you that you can't get in somewhere.. keep trying if it's what you want. My experience with those who tell you not to go into a large dept is: they wish they did, and don't want to see you make it. I'm sure that's somewhat generalized.. but is often too true in many cases.

    My main point is, find what you want, and don't stop until you get it. Don't let anyone discourage you from going after what you want.

    Got Crust?

    We lucky few, ... we band of brothers

  4. #4
    55 Years & Still Rolling
    hwoods's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2002
    Glenn Dale Md, Heart of the P.G. County Fire Belt....

    Thumbs up Well.............

    I've worked in a Large City Department, and a Metro area County Combination Department. I'll take the Combo Department every time. The one place that I don't want to be is the small paid Department. One thing drives my outlook on this subject - Politics. The small paid Department is the one kind that always seems to be mired in local politics, sometimes to the point that service delivery is affected. Seen that. Ugly. The Combo Deparment that I devoted the last 20 years of my fulltime Firefighting career to is one of the best, and consistently get a lot of work. Lot of opportunity in a Combo Department that's missing in others.
    Never use Force! Get a Bigger Hammer.
    In memory of
    Chief Earle W. Woods, 1912 - 1997
    Asst. Chief John R. Woods Sr. 1937 - 2006

    IACOJ Budget Analyst

    I Refuse to be a Spectator. If I come to the Game, I'm Playing.


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