We are trying to find out where we can find out at what population level do most cities go full time paid. I know in the northeast that many fairly large cities are all volunteer. Here in Texas, we don't have the available personnel to be all volunteer so that is not an option. This is also not a debate as to what or who is better so please don't go there. I am just looking for information. Thanks in advance.
I can't think of a fairly large city in which they are all volunteer and I live in the northeast. Some are paid on call, and many have gone to an on-duty per diem staff (no benefits) but population is not the sole driving factor. NFPA has a figure in which it is calculated on the volume of calls verse your on duty staffing.
Most small towns around here that run EMS transports from within the fire department seem to be able to have 2 personnel on duty Monday through Friday days if they have the magic number of 1000+ calls and reap the rewards of ambulance transport billing reimbursements.
Typically here in VA once the population of a county reaches 95,000 they begin som sort of paid service either full time or combination....thats been pretty much the model but it all depends on call load in my opinion....you could have a smaller community that only runs 100 calls a year but if the volunteers only answer 20 of them then you need paid assistance.
Here in SETX Beaumont (about 113,000 pop.) is paid, Orange (18,000), Port Arthur (57,000), Nederland (17,000) Groves (15,000) and Port Neches (13,000) all have paid depts. Bridge City (8600), Kirbyville (2000) and Jasper (8200) have all vol depts. Lumberton (8700) and Katy (11,000) have combination depts. All TX depts are supposed to be listed here: http://tfsfrp.tamu.edu/fdd/directory/
Hope this helps.
Cleveland MS is a town of about 15k in northeast MS. Their department is 100% volunteer with many different types of apparatus and companies. They have about 3 paid positions if I remember correctly and they're only for maintenance type stuff & a Fire Inspector.
I agree population is not the deciding factor. When a previously all-volunteer fire company can no longer produce an adequate response to incidents on a consistant basis, it's time to start looking at career service options. Prolonged responses, or failure to respond (or show up) to "frequent flyer" calls that still must be answered, when your volunteers begin to pick and choose what they will respond to becouse of increasing call volume, it's time for another plan.
When you can longer attract young, fresh, new members, and your average response consists of a handful of over 50 members, and/or when you have less than 25% of your members at the point of minimum certification, your in trouble. When you have to routinely depend on multiple agency responses for the initial, first-alarm response, you have a problem.
Alot of this depends on the local demographics. Are the younger generations moving out of the area becouse of employment status? Is local business unwilling to let their employees leave for an increasing number of responses?
Uusally, the first efforts are to develop, implement automatic-aid agreements. This can beome one-sided to a fault. But it may temporarily solve the problem. And given the nature of the politician, they will most likely take this route. It will become somebody elses problem later on, and the current cabinet doesn not want to be known as tax-raisers, and fire company killers. It can become an emotional, heated controversy. In many cases, volunteer companies will resist the organization of a career division at almost all costs, regardless of the inabilty to respond with enough staff on the initial alarm. Then it becomes a campaign of false acusations, with the claims that the public will be over-burdened with taxes.
It can be a simple solution of starting to add staff for hours when responses is deficient. Or, it can become township/County-wide and include staffed stations in selected stations. Some areas that have consistent staff response problems deny this problem exists for just plain selfish reasons. The emphasis is placed on purchasing new, quarter to half-million dollar apparatus every five years or so even though current apparatus has very little mileage or actual use, and cannot 'get out of the house' with anymore than two people. The presence of shiny, new apparatus behind the galss overhead doors of the station built a few years ago does NOT equate to effective fire protection.
In the end, the public should be made FULLY aware of the limitations and abilities of the services proteting them. It's up to them to decide what they are willing to fund. If they aren't concerned and are satisfied with inadequate protection, or a twenty minute response tie..so be it. Throw the stream through the window from 30' back.
I can think of some fairly small towns that are paid or combo but yeah, large, middlin-large, large-ish, not that large, big and biggish towns typically are full time - and for what I always thought were rather obvious reasons. Obviously not.
Using the list of I.A.F.F. locals for New York and then going a radius of about 125 miles from where I live, the lowest is Green Island, New York with a Population of 2,551. The highest is Albany New York with a population of 94,172. The median of ten departments that I found in that radius was 27,596.1, with the norm being about 14,339.04. Ironically the Population of Glens Falls New York is 14,354.
I apologize if the math is not exact it's been 25 years since I last took a math course, with the exception of a pump operators and rural water supply class.
I would have to agree with Ralph's comments on why they go carer. I know from what I looked up that Green Island is a sleeper community for Albany , so there would not tend to be the pool of people that were available to staff fully volunteer.
The City of Glens Falls has only 14,354, while their neighbor the town of Queensbury has a population of 25,441 and is served by four fully Volunteer Departments.
Here is a web site of fire service statistic for NY if you are interested. http://www.nyslocalgov.org/pdf/Fire_Protection_in_NYS.pdf