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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It may be volunteer for a reason but its also called "FIREFIGHTER" for a reason, all the volunteers in the world pound there chest and shout "The Job is the same" and "We do it for no paycheck"

Well if all that is true then the standards should be the same. I am all for accomadating volunteers in order to provide them with the needed training, but bottom line is if the job is the same then you should have to have what I do to do it.
Craig, does your state not have different levels of training for the specialty services--HazMat and Collapse?

We have Awareness levels--which are the minimum that all first responders must take so they don't get themselves in trouble. Then Operations and finally Technician. Last I checked the Awareness level classes were one time for 5 hours, give or take. Pretty sure that isn't too much.

Medical, as Ben stated, because we might have to take care of our own.

The rest I see no issue with. There were even 2 levels of fire classes when I went through 1 and 2. FF 1 was required by the state and was 120 hours. FF 2 was another 120 hours and optional, but encouraged.

I don't see any problem with asking someone to be trained to a certain level to do their jobs.

Are there lesser levels of training to be a cop? Paramedic? Doctor? I realize they are all paid, but still, the same concept applies.
"You volunteer to join the fire dept., after that everything else is mandatory" my assistant chief.

A very true statement
ON basic FF and Vehicle we agree,

On EMS I firmly belive that every firefighter should have at least CPR/AED/First Aid at the Pro Rescuer level, not necessarily EMT. you may be the first responder on scene, as soon as things are stable it helps if you can start a basic assessment of injuries and getting an idea of who might have priority so that EMTs can go directly to the most critical case. Personally I've been bugging the snot out of the chief to get a Certified Medical First Responder course and the county is finally doing that now. That's my personal choice because it allows me to respond when our department is paged on priority EMS runs such as heart attack/stroke/traumatic injury.

Hazmat - I believe every firefighter should go through at least a "Hazmat Awareness" course. You need the training which will allow you to recognize and avoid the hazards when you come up on a tanker truck roll over and the the tank is venting gas. Understanding how to read the placards and use the ERG to start handling the scene until the Haz Mat ops and Haz Mat tech's start showing up on scene could be a life or death issue.

I agree with you on the special ops stuff.

I'm lucky enough to be a member of a Volunteer department where very few of the members are willing to settle for "Minimum Required Training" Most want to go above and beyond to make themselves better firefighters are rescuers.

Stay Safe
What you’re suggesting is similar to how they do it in Britain. There they have no volunteer departments only large, County size or bigger, Fire & Rescue Services. Most Firefighters are full-time paid, but they also have Retained Firefighters. A Retained Firefighter is someone who is fully trainer as a FF by their Fire Service but holds down a regular job, strapped to a pager. The employer is legally required to allow them to attend fires when called and to grant leave for training. The Fire service pays them when they are called out and when they are training. These FF are usually assigned to fire stations with a low call-out volume but they are backed up by the full resources of a large, well equipped, organisation.
i agree very stongly. one of my fire departments requires you to have fire 1 and emt b with in the first year. and then you have to take rescue tech heavy machinery and swift water rescue tech on your second year. it is really hard to take all these classes when i hold a full time job and have a farm to take care of. you also have to make 3 company meetings and 8 drills for every quarter. if you don't then they pull your gear and take you off the riding list. there are to many volunteer fire departments that try to run there fire departments like a paid department. that is why we are losing members left and right. wish it could go back to the old days.
James Wright is a spammer.....
I feel very strongly about this topic as it seems many here do. I've been a volly since I was 18. I've got training beyond what is required of me because I love being a firefighter. I had way more time to do the training when I was 18 - 25, but that being said, I still train as much as I can.

I hate the people that just show up to do the bare minimum. It's ridiculous. Be there because you love the fire service or stay home. And by loving the fire service I mean in every aspect. Even if you're paid, you need to want to be a firefighter, not just for a job either. I've seen plenty of career guys who are as much slackers as some of the guys in the volly service that just come around when they feel like it. I understand having families and obligations, I have them too, but when the alarm goes off, and I'm available, I go to every call with the same enthusiasm as I did when I was a kid. I'm there to help, do my JOB as a FF, paid or not.

As far as training, I'm from companies that are cross trained, everyone does everything. I don't know why it is any other way, unless you have so many people you can separate up into truck, engine or rescue companies. We can't. We barely have more than 10 people that come to the calls that are at a convenient time, let alone midnight calls. I want to know as much as possible so that when the crap hits the fan, I am trained, and comfortable with knowing the right thing to do, if I didn't already.

This topic is infuriating, if you want to be a firefighter be one all the time, not half the time.
I was told this during my FF I& II and again during my EMT "don't train until you get it right train until you cant get it wrong" that's my attitude to every service if your department or station has it all members should train until they cant get it wrong, because when something goes wrong we lower our selves to our level of training and if we didn't train on it then we cant damn well use it or do it very efficiently. we all can make one hour a week or stay a little longer on some meetings (or read a book that is training as well) to make sure we train on something we dont know very well, and as far as ff's not wanting to go inside they need a different job, when people are short ive had a station chief backing me up then on rotation he went in because the fire chief showed up, he should have been able to be out side commandng something but he was needed inside so he did what he had to do and we saved the house because of it (a lou in rehab was his stand-in if he had to go in before the chief showed up so nothing was left unattended)
You think volly departments should be running wrecks but should not have medical training???

You have people who are so afraid of blood that they won't take medical training but you want them doing extrication???

Hazmat - if you don't know have the ability and equipment to use defensive operations to contain a hazmat leak, then it's going to get bigger and ruin more and more of the commerce and environment in your community. Defensive operations equal things that start with D - diking, dams, diversion...

Then there's the BIG D - Decontamination. Every engine company is essentially a mobile decon unit if you know what to do. If you get to a scene with a contaminated patient, who do you think is going to do the decon while that state team assembles, responds, and sets up? That will be the engine company.

Special Ops - who is going to get there first? Are you going to refuse to respond to a special ops call because your people are not trained to the Operations level? Or - are you going to respond and do nothing due to a lack of training? Or - worst of all - are you going to respond and get your untrained or under-trained firefighters killed trying to do a tech rescue without the training and gear?

If you want to really solidify your position in the community, your department needs to do medical, hazmat, and rescue/extrication. If you are a one-trick pony, eventually someone is going to hitch their wagon to a larger, more diverse team of horses.
When I joined in the early 70s we had minimal training. We got Advanced American Red Cross training and CPR and learn the rest from those that had been around longer than me.
We didn't have required training until after a major fire caused the county government to change the training for everyone. We got EMT we had volunteer firefighter school we took state basic fire school. More classes came about for engine, truck and rescue courses.
I took classes that were offered free of charge by the state on weekends like aircraft crash training and ambulance design. I drove across the state to take a class if it was free.
We had a chief that encouraged his members to be educated for their own good.
I feel and the way he felt was he had a better crew with every thing they learned or knew and could pass it on to the rest.
Right now I feel with the decline members and those that were around when I came in, there has been a decline in training and those that are running calls now just don't want to advance and don't care if they learn more than what they already learned.
There is no encouragement to learn more by those that lead now.
I told a friend to take classes or watch proceeding of the convention while at the state convention at a beach resort. He would rather go back to the condo and watch "Water Boy" on cable for a week or goof off.
I stand corrected on the first responder, I don't know why I didn't think about that. Also with the haz-mat awareness

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