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  • Introduction of Paid FF's...Help?!?!

    Hey guys

    I have been asked by the Chief of the department where I am from to have an interview with the county manager concerning introducing paid FF's into our strictly volunteer department.

    I have heard the horror stories of combination departments and the growing pains they experience. Please provide me with stories, reasons, situations, and anything to persuade our county from making this terrible decision.

    Our volunteer department is one of the top in the state and is comparible to most any paid department. Response times average around 6 mins. and personnel on structure fires ususally is around 30. We are far from in need of the introduction of paid FF's and with the horror stories I've heard, we dont need this in our county. Please help me. THanks

  • #2
    Originally posted by BCFR125
    Hey guys

    I have been asked by the Chief of the department where I am from to have an interview with the county manager concerning introducing paid FF's into our strictly volunteer department.

    I have heard the horror stories of combination departments and the growing pains they experience. Please provide me with stories, reasons, situations, and anything to persuade our county from making this terrible decision.

    Our volunteer department is one of the top in the state and is comparible to most any paid department. Response times average around 6 mins. and personnel on structure fires ususally is around 30. We are far from in need of the introduction of paid FF's and with the horror stories I've heard, we dont need this in our county. Please help me. THanks
    Is it a community that can afford to have a paid department? Obviously someone thinks you need them and can afford them. And what would be so "terrible" about a guy earning a living and feeding his family doing a job you obviously find enjoyable enough to do as a hobby on your off time?
    I am a complacent liability to the fire service

    Comment


    • #3
      For every guy that can tell a story about the whoas of going combination, you can probably find another that can tell you a success story. The thing is, everyone has to get along and work toward the common goal/good of the department. If there's tension in the ranks, it'll be hell from here on out.

      The best thing you can do is look at your attitude towards the idea. Apparently, the chief has chosen you to interview with the county manager for a reason. Get good information, not just a bunch of "I've heard this and that" before you go in. If it's not cost effective or beneficial to have full time firefighters, that's one thing. But to try to talk them out of it because some departments have had issues is a bit silly.

      Sit down and look at the pros and cons to the community before you become dead set on your position.

      Comment


      • #4
        Going toward a combination setup isn't necessarily a bad thing...the fire companies in our township went to the board of commissioners and asked them to find a way to hire a daytime paid crew because of our daytime staffing situation.

        In my view, sucess or failure in these endeavors comes down to how well the situation is managed. If there is one reasonable and effective set of procedures developed and enforced uniformly by one unified chain of command, there's rarely a problem (and there are examples of this right here in my area). It's when you see these "parallel department" situations with two chains of command (career and volly), multiple sets of SOPs, and unequal enforcement of rules that you also start to see problems.

        Comment


        • #5
          Our day staffing is a little on the scarce side as well. I work 30 minutes away and unless it is something big I am of little help untill I get off work.

          What is normally the first step toward a full time department? Is it best to start off wth a couple of folks that work 8 - 5 or go big. I know in our little township the budget isn't going to support a 24 hour a day setup. Just wondering what everybodys ideas might be.

          I don't think having a full time paid department is a bad thing. You know who is there and you don't have to worry about if somebody is headed to the firehouse to respond.

          Comment


          • #6
            When a department begins to go combo, it does not always mean response personnel either.

            You might just be looking at Administrative staff to drive a desk for the first few years. Commonly, a start might be a Paid Chief, Deputy/Training Officer, and perhaps an admin assistant if you are performing your own billing.

            This role should not cause any concerns because there are no rank and responsibility issues. The Chief is still the boss, and the Training Officer is fully responsible for his program. The department will run operations as a typical volunteer, but the paid Chief has the time to get the documentation done, maybe inspections, and perhaps some more thorough investigations.

            After proving the need, and as call volume grows, you can look at bringing on a couple more guys and forming a daytime duty schedule. It doesn't have to be painful.
            Never argue with an Idiot. They drag you down to their level, and then beat you with experience!

            IACOJ

            Comment


            • #7
              I think you have misunderstood my intentions. I am a full-time firefighter in another county and agree 100% with you that this is the best job on earth.

              Our volunteer department is made up mostly of guys that are 2nd or 3rd generation FF's, career FF's, and/or Entreperenears. There is over 150 vols for 7 stations that run approx. 1000 calls per year. The majority of the volunteers are in strong opposition of career FF's being introduced to this department. It is sorta a hertiage thing.

              There will be pros and cons no matter what decision is made. I want to hear from you guys what they have been in your department. Its kinda like an old saying "If it ain't broke, Don't fix it".

              The only reason that this issue is of any concern to our county is because of the rapid growth over the past few years (in which the Fire Dept. has handled easily). A few people have asked the county manager about why we dont have a paid department. (not complaining, just curious) This has led him into asking our Chief about implementing a few career firefighters into the line-up.

              Please dont take my concerns the wrong way. I just hate to such a strong organization destroyed because a county manager was questioned by an ignorant citizen.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by BCFR125
                Our volunteer department is made up mostly of guys that are 2nd or 3rd generation FF's, career FF's, and/or Entreperenears. There is over 150 vols for 7 stations that run approx. 1000 calls per year. The majority of the volunteers are in strong opposition of career FF's being introduced to this department. It is sorta a hertiage thing.
                Well are you having any type of problem?
                example low daytime responses, apparatus not rolling from one of the 7 stations or anything like that?

                Comment


                • #9
                  What? Your a paid guy and a volunteer?

                  Good luck, I'm sure you will get lots of horror stories both ways.
                  "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?

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by BCFR125
                    I think you have misunderstood my intentions. I am a full-time firefighter in another county and agree 100% with you that this is the best job on earth.

                    Our volunteer department is made up mostly of guys that are 2nd or 3rd generation FF's, career FF's, and/or Entreperenears. There is over 150 vols for 7 stations that run approx. 1000 calls per year. The majority of the volunteers are in strong opposition of career FF's being introduced to this department. It is sorta a hertiage thing.

                    There will be pros and cons no matter what decision is made. I want to hear from you guys what they have been in your department. Its kinda like an old saying "If it ain't broke, Don't fix it".

                    The only reason that this issue is of any concern to our county is because of the rapid growth over the past few years (in which the Fire Dept. has handled easily). A few people have asked the county manager about why we dont have a paid department. (not complaining, just curious) This has led him into asking our Chief about implementing a few career firefighters into the line-up.

                    Please dont take my concerns the wrong way. I just hate to such a strong organization destroyed because a county manager was questioned by an ignorant citizen.
                    I love the "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" and "heritage" things. "200 years of tradition, unimpeded by progress" is a statement I once heard from a wise chief officer.

                    I understand your guys' desire to keep things the way they are, but where was this attitude when your department started getting into rescue, EMS, haz-mat, etc? I'm assuming you do all of these functions, at least. Or what about the last time a perfectly good truck just had to be replaced due to it's age/replacement cycle? (another assumption)

                    Times change and the fire department has to change with it. Like many have said, you can integrate paid personnel without many conflicts, it's all how it's done. Do you currently have any live-in personnel or anything like that? There's no reason for it to be much different than that. Just because some guys are paid and at the station 8 hrs, 12 hrs, 24 hrs, or whatever they decide to go with, there's no reason they can't be integrated painlessly.

                    If your county's growing, you guys really need to keep up with it and the expectations. Now if you're hard up for equipment and need the money for that sort of thing, I can see being against the move (unless the county's going to flip the bill for the extra funding). Otherwise, you're going to have guys in the firehouse that can be out the door in less time than what you've got now, which can't be bad. Remember, it's not always what's best for the membership, it's what's best for the community.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Take a look at these documents:

                      http://www.vcos.org/PDF-2005/VCOS_Bl...bon_Report.pdf

                      http://www.vcos.org/PDF-2005/RedRibbon_Lo-res.pdf

                      http://www.vcos.org/PDF%202006/White...ort%20VCOS.pdf


                      They may provide some answers and insight

                      Our combination system works well, provides adequate coverage during times when volunteers are limited and saves the taxpayers several million dollars a year.
                      Buckle Up, Slow Down, Arrive Alive
                      "Everybody Goes Home"

                      IACOJ 2003

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Thanks for those reports...interesting reading. I cringe though when among the first topics to be explain is how "cheap" a volunteer system is compared to career. I thought service was supposed to be ahead of finances. Most volunteer members dont do it to save their communites money.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by BCFR125
                          I think you have misunderstood my intentions. I am a full-time firefighter in another county and agree 100% with you that this is the best job on earth.

                          Our volunteer department is made up mostly of guys that are 2nd or 3rd generation FF's, career FF's, and/or Entreperenears. There is over 150 vols for 7 stations that run approx. 1000 calls per year. The majority of the volunteers are in strong opposition of career FF's being introduced to this department. It is sorta a hertiage thing.

                          There will be pros and cons no matter what decision is made. I want to hear from you guys what they have been in your department. Its kinda like an old saying "If it ain't broke, Don't fix it".

                          The only reason that this issue is of any concern to our county is because of the rapid growth over the past few years (in which the Fire Dept. has handled easily). A few people have asked the county manager about why we dont have a paid department. (not complaining, just curious) This has led him into asking our Chief about implementing a few career firefighters into the line-up.

                          Please dont take my concerns the wrong way. I just hate to such a strong organization destroyed because a county manager was questioned by an ignorant citizen.
                          With this being said ................why do you need to become combination ? Besides growth are the runs increasing ?> It sounds like you are doing well with what you have ............
                          IACOJ both divisions and PROUD OF IT !
                          Pardon me sir.. .....but I believe we are all over here !
                          ATTENTION ALL SHOPPERS: Will the dead horse please report to the forums.(thanks Motown)
                          RAY WAS HERE 08/28/05
                          LETHA' FOREVA' ! 010607
                          I'm sorry, I haven't been paying much attention for the last 3 hours.....what were we discussing?
                          "but I guarentee you I will FF your arse off" from>
                          http://www.firehouse.com/forums/show...60#post1137060post 115

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by ffp8106
                            Thanks for those reports...interesting reading. I cringe though when among the first topics to be explain is how "cheap" a volunteer system is compared to career. I thought service was supposed to be ahead of finances. Most volunteer members dont do it to save their communites money.
                            Service is ahead of money, in the eyes of volunteer firefighers. Politicians sometimes have a different view. And in many cases the cost savings along with the level of service provided can be your ticket to remaining volunteer or hiring a limited number of paid personnel. And is some cases it allows for additional funding for equipment, becasue it is not used for salaries.

                            The new term is "cost avoidance" because in reality we are not saving money by using volunteers, but it is cost avoidance, as the politicians dont have to provide the funding.
                            Buckle Up, Slow Down, Arrive Alive
                            "Everybody Goes Home"

                            IACOJ 2003

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Stewart46
                              What is normally the first step toward a full time department? Is it best to start off wth a couple of folks that work 8 - 5 or go big. I know in our little township the budget isn't going to support a 24 hour a day setup. Just wondering what everybodys ideas might be.
                              I don't think there's a single answer to this, and I can only try to give you insight into the thinking around here.

                              Township-wide, and including our various multidirectional automatic mutual aid agreements, it's really not a problem to put a couple of engines, a truck, and 15 or 20 people on the scene of a structure fire in 6 to 8 minutes on just about any evening, weekend or holiday. Most of them will be interior qualified, although a few might be driver-only folks. That response will probably have at least that many rigs and people trailing a few minutes behind for the second set of crew rotations. So, we have absolutely no need for 24x7 paid crews. Now, weekdays are an entirely different issue...they're a crap shoot. At any given time on a weekday, that same structure fire assignment could get you a couple engines and a truck with anywhere from 4 to 15 people, and a few of them will almost certainly be driver-only folks. Officers can be even more of a problem...I'm 15 to 20 minutes away from our district here at work, and I've been the closest available daytime officer for our company all this week (it's bear season, you see).

                              So, the fire companies got together and requested that the township take the "Township Chief" position from part-time/flex hours/mostly administrative to full-time weekdays with primary command responsibilities, and hire a crew of three or four to fully staff one engine 8AM to 4PM on weekdays as a quick attack crew that runs everything in the township, regardless of district. Whatever volunteer complement is available would still be coming in the daytime to back up the paid guys by filling out the manpower requirements for that incident, but their presence should ensure that manageable room-and-contents fires don't turn into smoking foundations just because they happened at 10AM instead of 10PM...which is what could very well happen right now.

                              By all accounts, it looks like the township is going to allocate funds to do the chief and a crew of 3 in 2007, and we should know more about that very soon. A couple of other municipalities in the area are doing something similar for similar reasons (although a few are also adding 24x7 driver coverage, which I think is unnecessary, given their situations, but that's a matter of opinion). Anyway, what you do really depends on your needs, I would think.
                              Last edited by bobsnyder; 11-22-2006, 09:39 AM.

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