Just a question to get some discussion going. The region that I live in has many volunteers that are also career firefighters/officers. The question always arises; Should a firefighter's experience as a volunteer be taken into account for promotion, hiring or otherwise with a career department?
as a vollie in georgia, i am state certified as f/f 1. that is the same certification that ALL firefighters in georgia must have. the difference is paid guys train more. we train twice a month. usually with the paid dept. i think the vol. experience should be helpfull in the hiring process, but not the promotion process. i have worked mutual aid with a few paid departments, and we were all there for the same thing. to fight fire. because we trained with them regulary, it was easier to work along side them, but all in all we are all brothers and sisters. paid or vol.
I would have to disagree. I have worked as a volunteer and I am a paid guy now. When I was a volunteer, it was no holds barred. Sometimes we would only have 3 guys show up for a house fire. A lot of time in the volunteer world, there is no recourse for not following orders or freelancing. There is also limited training available. I fought structure fires for 3 years before ever going to a proper training academy. In the paid sector, you have to follow orders, you are expected to know policy and procedure, and freelancing will get your tail in a sling. The training is by far better. I receive 20 hours a month fire CE paid as opposed to 30 for the year as a volunteer. Now please don't think I am bashing the volunteer sector, I think the volunteers are more important than the paid guys because the paid guys will be there, no matter what. You call 911 in a city with a paid department, plenty of people show up. It's not always the story with volunteer departments.
I was told of this stary when the same question came up in our area.
A vol chief had been hired as a full time career chief, on his first day some of the crew gave him a hard time and the crew bashed some vollies. the chief replied by asking the guys on shift what thier roles were on the firegrond. All replied with single answers(ie; EO, nozzle man, second on line, vent.
these guys perform the same job everyday. After hearing this the chief told them to drop the discussion because a single vollie may end up doing any of those jobs on the fireground.
I don't say either is better or more experienced, some vollies run 2000 calls a year and some career may run 500 in our area. most have the same training.
This is an easy one. It's nowhere close. Most volunteers experience far out ways that of a paid guy and should be taken into account. Volunteers have to be much more adaptable, we are not told ok your on the truck and thats where you will remain. We don"t have to just be ready to do the job on our 24hr shift and not worry about it for our three days off, we must be ready 24/7.
Place I used to volly 1200 runs for the whole house split between 2 engs 1 truck 1 rescue place I work 3800+ runs for my company 27000 for the house if you add up the other 8 units in the house think I get a lil more experience at work
Should a person's volunteer experience count for hiring? Somewhat, but their work and personal history must have a greater impact on their selection. I've seen many people get hired who are/were volunteers and did not make it through recruit school. The funnier examples were those who beat their chest saying they were from ___VFD, been doing it for ___years, and ended up washing out. Then again, there are those small departments that have to rely on hiring someone who holds a FF2 and EMT certification. In most cases they don't care if it's from thier experience as a vollie, or career firefighter.
Should a person's volunteer exerience count for promotional processes? Absolutley not. Your job knowledge, skills, abilities, training, performance, and experience should be the only thing taken into consideration in the promotion process for your career department. The process is for selecting someone who can follow your employer's SOP's, HR policies, etc.
A lot of people are saying a firefighter is a firefighter. IMHO, we are, but in title only. Over the years, I've volunteered for a couple of different departments in seperate states ranging from the slow, small, respond from home department, to a busy urban vfd serving on a duty crew with no home response, and finally on to my current home, a large paid department. Yes the state training standards were the same for both career and volunteer, but in my travels I came to see there is a very big difference in those who have the title of firefighter.
Just to comment on the statement that volunteers never miss the "big one" because they were off, this statement may hold true in places where you only get 500 or less calls a year, not everywhere. At my last vfd, I missed plenty of fires, cut jobs, etc, because they did not happen on my duty crew's tour. However, there was plenty of calls to go around, and I did make up for it when I was doing my time at the firehouse. Same goes with being paid, but with a good call volume, you get a good share.
Being available for calls isn't experience! I have been a paid firefighter/paramedic for 5 years. Before that I volunteered for 6 years. As a paid firefighter, I have fought hundreds more structure fires, vehicle fire, HAZ-MAT fires, and not to mention the thousands of medical calls and traumatic events I have made as compared to being a volunteer. I'm not saying one firefighter is better than the other but you have to take into account the number of hours actually spent "ON SCENE" performing duties. Across the country there are volunteer departments that run more often than career department. One that comes to mind in KENTLAND. Those guys are hauses. No firefighter is "better" than the other period. We all do the same job and probabally for the same reason. Remember, FIRE kill me, FIRE kill you!!!
I've been a volunteer, and can say your response is incorrect. Career firefighters have to be even more adaptable than you think, and more so than not, more adaptable than a volunteer. Just because I'm assigned to a truck company doesn't mean that's where I'll remain. At anytime, I can be detailed to another truck, engine, ambulance, medic, or drive a tanker. I've shown up to work and had the Battalion Chief detail me to an engine in another battalion for the first 12 hours, then send me to a medic unit at another station for the remaining 12 hours. That means I have to be adaptable enough to move from truck firefighter, to engine firefighter, to firefighter/EMT supporting a firefigher/medic.
Even when we work overtime on our days off, we go where the vacancy is and it usually doesn't involve the truck I'm assigned. On top of that, we have stations in rural areas that rely on tanker operations for water supply as opposed to the suburban area my station is located in. That means we have to be flexible enough to operate in a first due that has hydrants every 500ft in residential, and every 300ft in commercial areas to those areas where the nearest hydrant is miles away.
Now that my HAZMAT Technician course is over with, I've got to be even more adaptable to cross-staff the HAZMAT unit at my station.