Do you thing Volunteer Fire Companies could provide better service to their customers (the community, and mutual aid partners) if each company specialized in one aspect of the fire service?

 

Much like career departments have Engine companies, Truck companies, Rescue companies, Hazmat units etc...Even though each company is a separate organization would the quality of service be better if each company mastered one aspect of the fire service and then worked together with neighboring companies to server the over all community in their region?

 

 

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It is a good idea in theory, but would not work in some areas. An example would be my location. We rarely use mutual aid unless it is a really large incident such as a large stucture or brush fire. This means that we need to know all the specialties in house. I believe everyone needs to strive to learn about as many operations as possible. We never know how many people we will have on scene, some members might be out of town.
I think for volunteer depts in more populated areas that have other depts close by who respond together regularly it would work well. I just do not think it will work in every area.
I'd have to agree with John here, our territory is so wide and we get toned out on so many different types of calls, I believe we are serving our community best by being a Jack-of-all-Trades...
Lets not sugar coat it here fellas.... this has already happened over and over in the fire service.

First department to get that big tanker years ago, or aerial ladder, then it was a Heavy Rescue.... now it is the tech rescue stuff, confined space, trench, dive, swift, high angle, etc. Heck I could go way back to the first motorized engine, truck, verse steamers and hand tubs....

Our forefathers did this already and the lack of control (power) lead us to duplicate equipment and resources because we wanted to control operations in house.
i agree with all the comments so far. in my dept we cover a city with a pop. of around 4000 and mutual aid with a neighboring city that im just guessing has 2000-3000 between the two cities they have two paid fireman and the rest vollunteer. our two depts have a very large number of equipment and personel trained and most certified at all levels. we train together in all aspects. between the two depts. we have ems certified personel, rope, swift/flood water, dive team, 3 boats, 5 engines, 1 ladder, 2 medium duty rescue vehicles, 2 pumper tenders, 2 tenders, 3 brush trucks, hazmat decon, confined space. we mutual aid each other on every call except for ems. it works very well and have yet had to call for outside help except for very large fires where we would need more man power or tender support. I like the idea but it would never work. our two main fire stations are only about 4 miles appart so we respond to each other very quickly. the next depts are 8-10 miles away and are not staffed during the day. waiting on someone the get a truck and respond 8-15 miles away depending on where the scene is would be way too much of a response time. what i would like to see happen is the fire districts get together and have a special response team that is trained in most if not all aspects that could respond where ever the need was at for whatever.
Sounds like a good idea but in the rural areas I just don't see it working. Our mutual aid companys are 20-30 minutes away and usually only have 4-6 firefighters available to respond. When they do send all available FF's it leaves their own area unprotected which isn't fair to their citizens.
In our county we have some volunteer stations that have special operations. One operates a Water Supply Operations. They have a couple of units that carry 5" large diameter hose and a few engines with a pump rated over 2000GPM. The company would be special called for second alarms or in non hydrant areas for a water supply relay. They have done a couple of water relay operations drills with other companies to see how it would work and have done very well if a incident comes up.
We have one station that has a foam engine and a station that is specialed on all hazmat operations around the county that has a hazmat engine and a support unit with support units at two other stations. Another station has a engine that was paid for by the power company to have extinguisheing products on it for the power plant because they didn't want to build a station and hire firefighters for the power plant property.
We have water rescue stations at differnet locations around the county. Two are stricty water rescue stations where one is on a large house boat on the water and one is a fireboat unit in a harbor at a major convention hotel and high dollar residential and merchant area.
i come from a volunteer department that specializes in its own aspect. i'm in the ladder company and my company specializes in mainly ventilation and victim removal from above ground stories, however we also practice other company specialties because you never know what you will be doing on the fireground. i believe that training first for your specialty and then to cover in other companies is best for volunteer departments and full time departments alike!
Rick, I don't know if you understand what we face....Many rural Volunteer Departments have to be able to perform many, many tasks that might come along...For example out coverage area is approximately 218 square miles...to have Departments specialize would be highly impractical for just the distances alone....we do what we have to do and what we are able to do....many people are trained in many aspects...from tech rescue, to ice rescue, to divers, to fire police, extrication...and that doesn't include all the EMS and Fire courses that we have to do.....Good thought just not always practical
No, being volunteer its best to be diverse to both attract the largest amount of volunteers as well as to provide the best protection for its community as well as provide mutual aid.

My company operates out of two stations and utilizes 2 pumper tankers, one tanker, two pumpers, one rescue engine, and one heavy rescue squad. We also have numerous brush, utility and command units as well as a raft.

In todays society being diverse can also mean being elibible for more grants, and everyone needs money.

many companies that "specialize" are simply showing extra pride in something they have that others might, such as a ladder truck/tower, hazmat or something such as that.

If everyone specialized and a company that is outstanding at hydrant operations was called to the opposite side of the county for a fire under rural shuttle operations? You cant be great at everything, that why we work together.
This isn't limited to the VFD. Departments that are linked geographically should, to a certain degree specialize. Every deptartment need not have a truck, haz-mat, heavy rescue, water tenders, brush rigs, light-and-air etc.
But it requires a combined effort and a good auto-aid agreement to work.
My fire service is large. All the stations are multi-purpose, to different degrees. All firefighters are exactly that 'firefighters', we have no such thing as dedicated 'engine' or 'truck' or 'rescue' crews.

All volunteer training for us starts with basic wildfire, then moves along through basic structural and along further to full structural and if seen as neccesary to specialist functions. If that need for specialties has been identified, then a brigade (station) may have a heavy rescue, a BA support vehicle, BA support - whatever. But training in those specialities is secondary, members have to be 'firefighters' first. Specialised crews, doing only those specialities, would be a severe restriction on our service to the community.

My brigade is in an outer suburb of our State capital, with 19,000 people,, we have no real wildfire risk in our own area. We are predominantly a structural risk brigade - but all members are competant wildfire firefighters (most are structural, about a third of us are Hazmat, which is our 'speciality' if you like). For us, basic firefighting is first, always.
I would have to agree that 95% of the time a Vol. Dept. Doesn't have the time or man power to specialise in one area. You basicly must be a Jack of all Trades. I know personnely of 1 Vol. Dept. That is a Paid dept now. But for over 40yrs they were the largest Vol. Dept. East of the Mississippi. They did specialize, The Twp, they cover is on the west side of the city. It's about 40 sq miles. the Township is industry and residential. The dept has 5 stations. When they were Vol. The twp. paid for the trcks and stations and the food. The Vol. would sign up to do shifts. They had/have a great training site. there vol. did a recruit class. they ran BLS transporting ambulances. This helped pay the bills. They had Truck co. Engine co. Vol signed up for a 12 or 24 hr tour. A,B,C shift. The questions isn't weather or not a Vol dept. can spcialize. You have to ask, Can my Dept. Specialize?
Let's look at every Dept. Bread & Butter..The Residence fire. I work for a paid large City..I'm a Truck guy. I Vent,I do search. I seak out the fire in void areas and pull or bust open what ever I need to, in order for the engine to put water on the fire. In my Dept...Truck guys don't touch hose and Plugs don't toucj Pike poles..Unless it's a life threatening situation..Also When or probies hit the street they go into a sub pool. Here they spend there first 4 to 5 yrs. going from one Battalion to another working in the diffrent houses on diffrent apperatus learning the Job. Then when they have enough seniority and have gained valuable experience they are allowed to bid a spot on a truck or a Engine. We also have Heavy Rescue, ropes,Dive,Haz-Mat, Surface water.
If you have the time & manpower to specialize then do it. If not, look around at other Vol or paid in your area find out what specialized training or Companies they may have...Remember every dept. calls for help..Paid and Vol. No Dept is self sufficient.
God Bless.

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