Ok this is going to cause an uproar...but I think we ask too much of volunteers.


When I joined back in 1978 we needed at least Fire I in my company which consisted of SCBA training, ladders, hose handling and small tools. We could take other courses, most took Vehicle rescue, hazmat and some officer training courses.


Now I see companies requiring members to have what equals over 100 hours of training within the first year, including monthly in service training.


Now I'm all for training, I used to go to as many fire schools as I could. But then again I was 16 and in high school and had the time. But now we have members who are older (18 at least) and working, have families and responsibilities. Many times I have seen on websites telling people to give an hour a week or whatever time they can. But once they get in they are usually required to get training after training. Once again I'm all for training but how much. Our company has the state hazmat units. Should we require all members to be hazmat certified? Another company has a collapse response unit. Should every member be required to have that training?


Its called volunteer for a reason. I remember being on a call with 7 FFs'. I knew 3 of us were going in. 1 was going to take the hydrant and stay there until the fire was out. 2 were great roof men but don't go inside. 1 was going to talk to the girls across the street. Is that ideal. Most was say not. I say why not. I don't want someone who is not comfortable doing what they don't want to do. I don't want to lose someone because thier forced to so. 


The volunteer fire service is dying. Meadville PA Fire and Rescue #39 just closed down for various reason and the equipment auctioned off. One was lack of members with certified qualifactions. I see engines going out with 3 FF's. that extra guy could be at the hydrant or humping hose or thowing ladders instead of a fully SCBA qualifed FF who would be better inside fighting fire.


I might be wrong and will say so if proven wrong. But the service needs every able body we can get.    

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I agree fully, but at the same time, officers have to look at more then just getting a number on the roster. I do like the idea of having cross trained members, because you never know who will show up, so having everyone scba certified is a decent idea. But there's a underlining problem too, what to do with the "deadwood" ff's. We all have them on our depts, the ones that make the bare minimum of drills and never answer an alarm, except for maybe the major calls. Yes we are volunteers, and since this "hobby" doesn't pay our bills, work and family take precedence, but at what point can you or do you demand dedication from your members?
To be the devil's advocate, how do you draw a happy balance?

Trained enough, not trained enough?

If the level of risk is the same for a career member as it is for a vol, should the requirement be any different?
We are on the same page here. Even my chief agrees. Its so hard to get volunteers now due to all the training required and cost of training.
Every year its something new between OSHA, NFPA, and every other agency out there make new rules, guidelines...etc.
As a department we realized you wont make every call nor are you expected to make every call. My chief and I work together at the 911 center so there are times we are sending our department out and we are both stuck in the center and not able to help our department. It happens thats what mutual aide is for.
Paraphrased from comments made on FFN:
"Volunteer or paid; both do the same job."
"The fire don't care if you're paid or volunteer."
"Fire can't tell the difference between paid or volunteer."
"There's no difference if you're paid or not, the job is the same."

"Ok this is going to cause an uproar...but I think we ask too much of volunteers."

If ANY of the above were true why then do PAID guys go through an Academy that is (typically) a minimum of 12 weeks?

What are the PAID guys LEARNING that is NOT necessary for VOLUNTEERS?

Maybe 20 years ago much of what you said was true but, in all good conscience would you really give someone today the same limited training you received back then? And do you really think 100 hours of training is TOO much? (Which is considerably less than NFPA 1001 FFI)

If a volunteer department is forced to close due to a lack of members, training or a combination of both, then it's probably a good thing. Why risk the lives of untrained or too few "firefighters" if you aren't going to bother to train them, or require them to be trained?
Indeed it is hard to walk the balance. We need volunteers and we must meet State,and Federal standards for training. We also must equip them the same regardless of volunteer or paid because of those same standards. So the issue is what do you as a volunteer want to give? It falls on each volunteer to look inside themselves and determine the cost and benefit to them. The standard is set and cant be minimized just because we think its too costly or un-attainable. We all have to meet the same standards. So, the question is how do we continue to recruit and retain our volunteers? I continue to be encouraged by the numbers of individuals who want to be part of our organization. We will continue to train and equip our volunteers to meet the needs of our community.
I don't want someone who is not comfortable doing what they don't want to do. I don't want to lose someone because thier forced to so.

If they are not comfortable, they have not been training and I dont want them on scene. They should know what is expected of them before they join, so then they are not forced to do anything. I rather have them quit, than kill themselves or someone else. But.....Thats just me !!!!! By the way, I am on a Volly Dept, no pay what so ever other than a great feeling knowing Im helping !!!
All firefighters need at least basic medical training and qualifications, even if your station/company doesn't respond to EMS calls. The reason - being able to take care of our own since so many of us get hurt on calls.

All firefighters need at least basic hazmat training and qualifications. The reasons - first the 29 CFR 1910.120 legislation makes hazmat a fire department problem, the fire department is almost always on scene before specialized hazmat resources, and if we're not hazmat qualified when we get there first, we're essentially useless.

All firefighters need at least basic rescue qualifications. The reasons - once again, the FD usually arrives on scene quickly, and we need to be able to intervene effectively when we arrive.

In fact, firefighters need more fire qualifications than we did back in the day. Fuels include more synthetic materials, and those equal quicker, hotter fires that produce more hazardous materials as a byproduct.

We're going to be called to incidents involving a variety of hazards and we need to be prepared to do something about those hazards when we arrive. Otherwise, we're just bystanders in turnout gear.
My point as well. Fire and EMS are a dangerous business, volunteer or not. We let our recruits know up front there's a lot to the level of participation we'll be asking of them. They can choose to miss meetings, etc., but will not be allowed to do what others who have trained will be allowed to do. Our chief expects his volunteers to act professionally and nearly all of us have responded favorably to that. That professionalism includes gaining knowledge and skills.
Otherwise, we're just bystanders in turnout gear.
I love that statement- will have to use that!!!
Minimum response is 4 FF. (which is BS because I want the driver at the pump and the officer to...office....) but lets say you have 3 FF and can't roll because that other guy isn't fully qualified. But he knows how to hit a hydrant, hump hose, throw a ladder, what do you do.

Jack/dt The differencfe between paid and Volunteer is one gets paid to go to fire school the other doesn't. While fire doesn't care if we're paid or not usually the family does. When I joined and like many others I took as many courses as I could. If I had a family at the time and I was gone every weekend my marriage would not be as..okay my marriage might be a bad example.

And who writes the NFPA standards. Professional who don't understand the hardships people face. Volunteerism is down in all sectors. People won't volunteer to clean streets, how many are volunteering to run into burning buildings. We had a run of 8 months without taking in another FF. I understand they want us to be safe. But you can't be safe inside then find something to do outside.

How many minimums can we have,EMS now....so not only the 100 hours for fire we throw on another 30-50-100 for medical...before we had an ambulance our EMS consisted of checking each patient and keeping them calm until EMS did arrive. And we never had a fatality from doing so.

We can't look at it as what would we do or how we feel. We need to look at the big picture.
This is tricky. I'm a volunteer and work mostly with career firefighters-- while I'm busy with my day job, they're busy training (or running calls). In the end, though, if I'm on a call, it's no good to tell a member of the public that I intend to provide a sub-standard response to this particular emergency because I'm just a volunteer. Yes, the service needs people, and that includes volunteers-- but volunteers also need to recognize that this is more than a hobby, and that, from the moment one accepts the responsibility for responding to emergencies, one has a duty to be prepared. Perhaps not quite to the level of someone who does this full-time, but at least to a reasonable level of competence-- and that means a substantial amount of training.
Who writes the NFPA standards? A mix of people from a mix of backgrounds write them.

In many cases, the manufacturers have large amounts of representation. That is important when you're talking about standard ways to measure the performance of a fire engine, a ladder, a carabiner, a rope, or other equipment item. Ditto for how those items must link with each other into a system.

Then there are the "end user" NFPA committee members, many of whom are either volunteers or who are for-profit trainers who volunteer on the side.

Your claim that the committee members "don't understand the hardships people face" is not accurate. Look up the NFPA 1720 standard as one example of that.

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