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

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  • mtnfireguy
    replied
    Originally posted by randsc
    I'm going to speak bluntly here, apologies in advance to any who are/will be offended. Deal.

    It is not "terrible" to have paid firefighters. However, it is certainly true that adding paid firefighters to a volunteer department can cause problems. The biggest problem with integrating career day staff is the potential that doing so, if handled badly, can kill your volunteer respsonse. This is a major problem, because contra to what some others around here would have you believe, 24/7 staffing is neither necessary nor affordable for huge parts of the country. So you still need your volunteers. And that means that you can't have them driven off by the paid guys.

    When we first added paid day staff, we talked to many departments who had done the same. Common problems:

    1. Day staff would treat the volunteers badly in terms of treating them as "second class citizens" there for stuff like overhaul and washing the apparatus.

    2. Day staff not respecting the chain of command (i.e., taking instruction from volunteer officers)

    3. Volunteers abusing the fact that there was day staffing to avoid doing unpleasant work in the middle of the night, and leaving it for the next day shift.

    What we did to avoid this was make sure that all the officers were on the look out for these sorts of problems. And we made it crystal goddamn clear to the guys we hired that the chain of command, including volunteer officers, was not negotiable.

    Our situation dictated some of our organizational decisions. We had no problem with getting an interior crew, even in the daytime. We had problems being able to count on getting two EMTs, and occasionally drivers. So we hired driver/emts, not future potential officers.
    Hit the nail right on the head!

    We have a paid staff of 18 that staff weekdays 0600-1800 and with any working fire are supplemented by volunteers and the paid staff will respond after hours for working fires, hazmat, etc. This summer with the wildland activity the volunteers were the backbone of the response to those fires.
    Our system works well and we have had some of the issues stated above even trying to be proactive, they will contiune to pop up on both sides. They must be dealt with quickly and fairly.

    Leave a comment:


  • randsc
    replied
    Chain of Command is paramount

    I'm going to speak bluntly here, apologies in advance to any who are/will be offended. Deal.

    It is not "terrible" to have paid firefighters. However, it is certainly true that adding paid firefighters to a volunteer department can cause problems. The biggest problem with integrating career day staff is the potential that doing so, if handled badly, can kill your volunteer respsonse. This is a major problem, because contra to what some others around here would have you believe, 24/7 staffing is neither necessary nor affordable for huge parts of the country. So you still need your volunteers. And that means that you can't have them driven off by the paid guys.

    When we first added paid day staff, we talked to many departments who had done the same. Common problems:

    1. Day staff would treat the volunteers badly in terms of treating them as "second class citizens" there for stuff like overhaul and washing the apparatus.

    2. Day staff not respecting the chain of command (i.e., taking instruction from volunteer officers)

    3. Volunteers abusing the fact that there was day staffing to avoid doing unpleasant work in the middle of the night, and leaving it for the next day shift.

    What we did to avoid this was make sure that all the officers were on the look out for these sorts of problems. And we made it crystal goddamn clear to the guys we hired that the chain of command, including volunteer officers, was not negotiable.

    Our situation dictated some of our organizational decisions. We had no problem with getting an interior crew, even in the daytime. We had problems being able to count on getting two EMTs, and occasionally drivers. So we hired driver/emts, not future potential officers.

    Leave a comment:


  • LaFireEducator
    replied
    Police vs. Fire .... There is no comparison.

    For one thing, police departments are 10-20 times busier than a fire department in most communties. Police also provide an active patrol prensce, which some communities want. In addition, the required training and accredidation standards are, in many places, significantly higher for police than fire personnel.

    Most rural communties that have volunteer fire departments use county or state resources for police protection.

    Leave a comment:


  • mtnfireguy
    replied
    Originally posted by DrParasite
    how many police departments respond to less than 100 calls for service a year?

    btw, idk how it is in texas, but in NJ, if a town isn't busy enough to have their own paid police department, they often chose NOT TO HAVE ONE. they contract with a neighboring town, or with the NJ State police to have an officer in the area (sometimes 20-40 minutes away).
    Same here, most small towns contract with the Sheriff in their county to provide LE.. However, we do have several communities that have Law Enforecement Reserve programs to provide extra staffing for special events, searchs, etc and they are volunteers.

    Leave a comment:


  • drparasite
    replied
    Originally posted by johnny46
    How many all volunteer police departments are there?
    how many police departments respond to less than 100 calls for service a year?

    btw, idk how it is in texas, but in NJ, if a town isn't busy enough to have their own paid police department, they often chose NOT TO HAVE ONE. they contract with a neighboring town, or with the NJ State police to have an officer in the area (sometimes 20-40 minutes away).

    Leave a comment:


  • johnny46
    replied
    How many all volunteer police departments are there?

    Leave a comment:


  • scfire86
    replied
    I read those reports. And all I can say is the VCOS sure has a lot of ribbons.

    Going to a combo or all paid fire department is a good thing. Irrespective of tradition and the boys club that is entrenched.

    Leave a comment:


  • LaFireEducator
    replied
    An all-volunteer fire department defines the community. If there is no need for paid personnel, then why go that route? From the sounds of your post, staffing, day and night is good, and the department seems to be operating well.

    During the interview, find out specifically why the powers that be have been thinking about paid personnel. Before the interview, attempt to identify any weaknesses so that you cazn be prepared. Be ready to offer a few suggestions to solve those issues during the interview. have some senior members available after the meeting to brainstrom solutions to the problems the powers that be have identified. If the problems are minor and can be solved without going to pad staffing, your community will be the winner. The volunteer fire service tends to be more envolved in the community. They provide opportunties to members of the community to serve the community and they provide teens the oportuntity to explore the fire service as a career option. They provide the community something to be proud of.

    I am not anti-career, but I am very pro-volunteer. Paid staffing can cause as many issues as it causes. Just because your community can afford some paid staffing, that doesn't mean it needs paid staffing. The volunteer fire service has many benefits that go beyond inexpensive fire protection, and you need to fight to retain the all-volunteer department as long as they are still providing relaible service to the community.
    Last edited by LaFireEducator; 11-30-2006, 09:58 PM.

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  • comstockfire
    replied
    How about a "paid on call dept. ? "

    Leave a comment:


  • Halligan84
    replied
    There are some growing pains as with any sort of change. Having lived through being one of the first full timers many moons ago (not pleasant) to seeing it happen in other places I'd offer some advice.

    1. Figure out the chain of command. If you don't have solid policies, write them first and everyone lives by them. The career firefighters should have a supervisor for in house activities and become part of the fireground chain of command on the street. I have seen some places where the vols figured they now had their own cleaning person and treated the firefighter like that.
    2. Write an employee handbook for the rules and regulations specifically applied to career firefighters. Makes life easier and provides a template if they unionize for a first contract.
    3. Once this stuff is in place, hire the officers first or hire firefighters you would consider promoting.
    4. Go slow. Talk to many others and find out what works and what doesn't

    Leave a comment:


  • drparasite
    replied
    Originally posted by mcaldwell
    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.
    with all due respect, I think this is a horrible idea, especially if it's your first thought.

    when you are thinking of putting on paid personnel, the first thought you should have is "what do I need?" do you need more qualified leadership? do you need a better person to be in charge of training? or more commonly, do you need someone to make sure the trucks always get out the door for an alarm? also, looking at your own stats, if a truck isn't getting out, why not? does it lack a qualified driver, officer, or crew?

    hiring a paid chief really doesn't solve many departments' response issues, even though it's if often an idea that people throw out as who the first paid person should be. maybe if your department is lacking qualified leadership and management, but otherwise I wouldn't make it my first thought

    If you are having problems with daytime response, how about hiring 1 daytime firefighter, who is the designated driver/engineer. This way, there is always a qualified driver, and if needed he can roll whatever piece is needed is any of the FFs that show up. or he can be bumped to the officer side if a driver shows up, and the crew needs a qualified officer. This career FF also does the daily equipment checks, makes sure all the trucks are always ready to go, and maintains all the maintainable equipment (saws, etc).

    As time goes on, you might want to look into hiring additional career FFs during the daytime, maybe a total of three for a full engine company. and if they are working 6-6, hiring per diems as well. maybe even consider hiring/promoting one to the rank of career Lt, to both supervise the men and to be a person who can act as IC during the daytime.

    The question you need to ask (or your higher ups need to ask) is "is our volunteer department failing to provide service in an acceptable manner?" if the answer is no, then that is the answer. if your community manager is asked that question, then he should ask the citizen "Has the department failed to meet any of your expectations?" I'm guessing the answer would be no.

    There is no denying that a fire department staffed 24/7, with all apparatus staffed in house 24/7 is better than a 100% volunteer one where everyone responds from home. the main downside to going 100% paid is that taxes will skyrocket, and the department and response area may be able to be sufficiently covered (in the eyes of the taxpayers) by a well run volunteer department.
    Last edited by drparasite; 11-25-2006, 12:37 PM.

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  • ffp8106
    replied
    Originally posted by mtnfireguy
    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.
    How true. in many places money is not being saved, especially in some wealthy suburban areas where you have multiple depts dispatched during the day just to make sure sombody responds. Many of these depts may have budgets of 6 or 7 digits and they have to rely on neighboring depts during the day.

    Leave a comment:


  • ChicagoFF
    replied
    Why is your department moving towards career staffing such a bad thing in your mind? Wouldn't 24/7 full staffing be a good thing? Are you upset because the service would be worse or because it would deny you your passtime? Tell me why you think this is such a "terrible" thing.

    Leave a comment:


  • bobsnyder
    replied
    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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  • mtnfireguy
    replied
    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.

    Leave a comment:

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