I've been thinking about this for awhile. I LOVE the volunteer service, as I love serving my community and helping people in need.

My department is a combination department in a couple of different ways. We have EMS integrated into our department (EMS calls are about 90% of our calls epr year), and we have paid EMS First Responders, however all of the firefighters are volunteer.

At night there is obviously a hinderance of turn-out (this mostly pertains to EMS calls), so my department has mandated that certain members MUST respond overnight from 2200-0500 for any EMS call that comes out. We call these "Squad Nights". Please accept my apology if this is common knowledge already.

Generally a person assigned to these nights have been in the department under 5 years. There are three slots per night, every night, and they are all filled (Driver, EMT, Aids Person).

I can understand mandating a certain amount of calls per year, and a certain amount of trainings, but mandating a certain time-frame in which certain members MUST respond?

Take into account a lot of people work the normal hours of about 9am-5pm, so it's understandable as to why people don't respond. And don't get me wrong, I've done a lot for overnights. When I wasn't working full-time and worked part-time at night I would do many, many overnight calls.

There's an obvious hierarchy of responsiblities:
1.) Family and Friends
2.) Work
3.) Volunteering

My question to you, the Firehouse community, is: Do you believe it's ethical to mandate VOLUNTEER work?

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This is a tough one to call...ethics are not the issue....I know coverage is very important...but in my eyes if this is the route that must be taken then EVERYONE takes it...not only those with 5 years or less in...If I was getting jammed up like this it would be an easy solve...I would maintain my Firefighter status and not renew my EMS...It isn't right nor is it fair...I was in a Volunteer Rescue Squad a few years back and we had assigned nights to pull duty....but everyone pulled their share...so it wasn't a big deal....Good luck........
Hey Ralphie.....whoa, big boy......LOL...I have an issue with his situation...Not with mandateing....but rather selectively doing so....why hit only those with less than 5 years in...if it is a staffing issue then mandate EVERYONE to pull a night....and by the way I have a few more than 5 years in and I ama 90% club member....I make 90% of our calls
I am understanding the concept, but unsure of why it is existing.. no wait..check that.. I DO understand why it is in existence - because the members made it that way. Like was said, the depts. is responsible for its coverage area. Most leaders (good ones anyway) will do what it takes to fullfil the depts. committments. Anything less, is not acceptable. How long has this system been in place? Is it part of dept. history / tradition? Does this issue get discussed at meetings? Is there resistance to this system from more than one member ?
Like Paul, I am against the 5 years and under people burdoned with the responsibilities. It has to all for one kind of thing. Its not an initiation thing, or a probationary thing.. That part in my mind can and should change. The rest of the concept, I actually like. Having members (volunteer) being accountable to the organization is paramount. I have seen too many depts. (my own included) where the dead weight simply is tilting the wrong way.
EMS is very much higher % than fire calls. I think that exists in every jurasdiction, and it has been like that for longer than five years.. so I suspect someone may have to re-evaluate their vol. motives. Sad that it has come to that, I know with the lack of new people wanting to do this job, it's going to worse before it gets better.
The squad night is made up by the EMS Captain and Lieutanients. We have minimal input as to when we are scheduled for it, but it's a fixed schedule. Generally members that are assigned to these nights are assigned one night a week, overnight. We respond from our homes to the station, then take the rigs from there to the call, and so on.

It's not that calls aren't being answered, and yes I understand where you're coming from when it comes to being able to cover our area. I don't think (in the time that I've been in the department) that we've ever called a mutual aid for an EMS call. Not that I know of, at least. We always get out. I just find the mandating of volunteerism unethical, that's all.

Yes, I know the department spends money on me to train me... But they are mandated to do that themselves. I'm not getting paid salary, or even by call. I don't get anything fiscal from being in the department. I don't own my own house, so I don't get a property tax reduction, and the only discount I get is at Best Buy, and I have never even used it.

My take is that they should tone out overnight calls as if it were a regular daytime call. If no one responds or calls in, retone. If the call is a low priority call (we have a few community homes for the elderly in our district that we get called for at least a few times a week), then paid personnel should handle it. Paid personnel = two people, and two people = a driver and an EMT. For a mere transport that's all that's truly needed. Now if it's a cardiac arrest and there's additional manpower needed, then I can see the necessity of having people needed on scene. But for low-priority calls... it's completely unnecessary for the most part.

Volunteering our time whenever we are free should be sufficient enough. The only way we should be mandated to go out overnight is if we're getting paid per call or something. I don't even want to be paid (although it would be nice to have some additional income), I just want to volunteer out of the goodness of my heart.

And like I said, I go on an array of calls. I've gone on calls ranging from some lady who couldn't control her bowel movements (the lowest priority call I've ever heard - Omega [No one even knew this priority even existed]) to cardiac arrests and MVAs. I make my points. We need 152 by the end of November. I already have the minimum amount of points, and have had it for a couple of months already.
There are several reasons to require squad nights. There are several reasons to not want to do squad nights. It comes down to where your personal line is. If your department is asking too much of you, then maybe it is time to reconsider your involvement. It is all too easy to hide behind the "volunteer" status to find ways out of work and training. Keep one thing in mind, paid or not you are an employee of the department and it is the responsibility of the officers to put policies in place to organize training, coverage, and all other department responsibilities. Your community pays for the department and deserves a certain level of service. If this includes squad nights, then this is how your community/department needs to run.
Certainly the work should be spread amongst all members but I can see requiring more squad night from newer members if the department spent the money on their education. EMS licenses do not come cheap so the department should have a right to recoup that cost as long as everyone is playing fair.
Paul, interesting take. I agree, it shouldn't just be the newer folks, but everyone from the newest recruit right up to the chief with the most bugles. I do have to differ on the statement about maintaining ff status and letting your EMS card lapse. Here where I'm at that would get you done and gone in a relatively short time. No license, no runs, no runs, c-ya !! We have to maintain our license in order to stay current with the state and the dept. Just how it is here. But I do think that Andrew and his buddies are getting the wool pulled over their eyes by the others. Good luck.
I'm not getting paid salary, or even by call. I don't get anything fiscal from being in the department.

And there is your gripe and a reason to counter such mandated "volunteerism". You are a volunteer, which means the dept does NOT have to come first, which means you can selectively respond and so forth. Yes, many depts do have people signed up on certain nights as a response crew that can't selectively respond, but all those I personally know of, are paid for doing so. Whether the money is a couple bucks and hour or what doesn't matter, you are paid. If any dept is going to MANDATE anything, there should be compensation involved.....and no a discount at Best Buy does NOT cut it.

This is the issue that many communities must face. Yes, it is cheaper having volunteers vs paid, but you also can't force people to respond or mandate them to do a shift without some give. Yes, I agree it is unethical.

Now there is one thing requiring making X number of training and so forth, because you do have to maintain skills and the dept, most likely, paid for training and equipment. I can understand asking for a certain number of call response as well, but any time you mandate a shift, you are telling people to work and that should equal compensation for time. I don't care if you are all volunteer, paid on call, or full time, anything above a typical time committment should equal compensation.


There are three slots per night, every night, and they are all filled (Driver, EMT, Aids Person).
Aids Person.....Man I would HATE to be that person
Mike....I have had my EMT cert since I was 17...never lapsed, at times paramed level...(depending on level of Department Cert)...My comment is if I was under 5 years and had to pull call then everyone should be pulling calls...I get a little tired of 2 sets of rules...One for the newer guys and one for the over the hill group....when we get raked over the coals for something and then see the same issue with someone else and hear...well he is a 25 year member and nothing... that sir is not right....I am a memeber of the so called 90% club...in the past few years I have responded to approx 90% of our calls...no, not Fire calls but ALL calls....day or night and no I am a few years over the 5 year mark...LOL...But we have to be certified in our area..be it Fire OR EMS...so if I was getting nailed I would or could just go fire......
Best get those glasses checked old-timer...LOL...I have had a few calls where I turned around when I knew there was some of the "younger" members responding...or have gone as an "extra" sttod back and watched and listened...was hard but managed to keep out of it.....LOL well guess its time for my geritol cocktail and a nap......LOL
John there is another response that can come into play.....Have used it before...actually makes a point....(not originally mine) goes like this...."Hey, do you know where I was before I can here..? Somplace else,keep up the bull and I can go back..." Rules are there for order and disclipline...but it HAS to be the same for all involved.....I heard someone say to a Chief once...when the Chief made a comment about his driving (non-emergency)..."Shut the hell up" and he got away with it because he has been around 25 years or so....That is wrong....(Not my Department so no dirty laundry)
When I joined my volunteer company back in the 70s we had volunteer live ins ranging from 16 to 30 of age and some older that had no where to go so they move into the station, had a bunk a locker. So 16 to 18 yo members had to have parent permission to be in the station to sleep in during school nights and be at school on time and show their report cards to the chief when they cameout. The others had to get up in the morning and go to work unless they had a excurse for not getting out of bed. Some had jobs that were past bunk time hours so they came in late and went to bed without waking others.
The rulle was that if you slept in or lived in the station you had to get up for calls. Some were assigned to ambulance calls and others for runs on the engine or squad. New members that had training for the ambulance got assigned to the ambulance.
In the past few years the membership lost sleep ins because of change of chiefs to one that pushed alot of them to get jobs and some of them went to fire service jobs so they were forced to give up living in. Others found love and marriage so they were gone. Then the people coming in to join declined.
Now our station had career personnel when I joined where we had four during the day and two in the evenings with enough volunteers to cover then down to one career driver and volunteers. Now we have four career personnel around the clock and once and a while some volunteers who come around and have to ask to ride or drive the ambulance, engine, truck or squad.

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