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Combination Dept. Staffing

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  • Combination Dept. Staffing

    Hey guys,

    I work for a department in the midwest that is a combination full-time/part-time/volunteer agency running fire and (primarily) EMS, 1,200-1,300 calls per year and increasing slightly. Mostly a bedroom community, 90% of calls are for the medic unit. Staffing breakdown is as follows:
    -FT Chief and A.C.
    -3 FT on 24/48 rotation (2 Lt., 1 Capt.) providing shift supervision and paramedic coverage
    -8 PT FF/EMTs
    -15 volunteers

    On a daily basis, the full timer and one part timer are staffing the station from 0700-0700, plus available volunteers, and the Chiefs are present during business hours. Surrounding AMAR departments within close proximity are either all volunteer or staffed like we are. Over the past several years, assembling adequate numbers of volunteers to staff simultaneous calls, fire calls, and the need for additional personnel (heavy patients, cardiac arrests, etc.) has been spotty at best. Though we have a good relationship between paid and volunteer staff, recruitment and retention of volunteers is difficult at best, just like almost everywhere else.

    My question is, we have a levy coming up in a community where taxes are already high. If anyone serves on similar departments in terms of call volume, staffing, or population, what's your daily staffing like? We're well read on NFPA 1710 and 1720, just want to know specifically what other agencies are actually doing so we know what to ask the elected officials for.

    Thanks in advance. If I can clarify anything, let me know.

  • #2
    Not in your situation, but any one year, five year what ever year plan,,, already in place, to add staff?

    I understand the money thing, but looks like there should be a plan


    • #3
      Are your volunteers true unpaid volunteers, or are they paid-on-call?

      If they are unpaid, it may be time to consider some sort of compensation, be it a stipend or making them part-time employees paid by the call. The latter is the case where I grew up in MI, and has been for years. There could be tax implications on the firefighter's end - do some research.

      Paying the vollies is going to cost money, for sure, but you should be able to provide an idea of that cost based on call volume and average attendance.

      If the volunteers are already paid, perhaps an increase is called for.

      For your daily staffing, adding another firefighter per shift may be necessary, with the attendant cost.

      Selling an increase to the taxpayers will take convincing them that the additional cost of any option is worth every penny (at mere pennies a day). You don't want to emphasize the negative, but if manpower shortages are demonstrably an issue for you, try to make use of that. The volunteer issue is a nationwide issue, as you note, so you can point out you are no different. You might also be able to use the same information for recruiting.
      Opinions my own. Standard disclaimers apply.

      Everyone goes home. Safety begins with you.


      • #4
        Thanks for the replies!

        The plan right now is to hope and pray for additional volunteers to come out of the woodwork to take FF 1&2 course and/or EMT. I think we've settled on asking for the funding for 4 paid personnel (1 FT, 3 PT) 24/7, plus available volunteers.

        To answer the question about our volunteers, they are paid per call, but the stipend is low enough that the law still classifies them as bona fide volunteers. The stipend has been increased in recent years.


        • #5
          As the old saying goes, you get what you pay for. This isn't meant as an insult to the volunteers, but if the municipality/district\county whatever wants a fully staffed fully trained department, they need to understand that it comes with a price tag. You can't do much with just 2 people, esp when those two are tied up on an EMS assignment.

          If you don't have the volunteers like you used to, especially during the day times, than it's time to request more staffing. What typically happens if a department goes from volunteer to POC to PT to FT, increasing the level when the existing level is insufficient (which it appears to be)

          Do you run an ambulance as well, or just first respond in the engine or SUV? If you have the EMS agency put a unit in your town, it might allow you to limit your EMS responses.
          If my basic HazMat training has taught me nothing else, it's that if you see a glowing green monkey running away from something, follow that monkey!



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