70% of the nations firefighters are volunteers who risk their lives everytime a call goes out. Some say yes because of the risk and some say no because it was a choice made to do the job, what do you think?
If you would like to get paid to do this job work on becoming a full time firefighter or an on call firefighter.
This may not be an option everywhere but in Massachusetts the on call status means you either recieve a scheduled stipend throughout the year (usual is every six months) or you get an hourly rate for the calls you go on and get paid throughout the year like monthly or bi-weekly depends on the department.
If you want to volunteer and get paid theres that option too. I know plenty of firefighters that are full timers or on call firefighters that also volunteer with other departments. So you can do both. Your just not going to see a dime if you are only a volunteer. Because once again thats what volunteers are UNPAID if they start getting paid change the name.
I've always believed that you should pay for what you get and that includes a fire service. I've never lived anywhere where the police were volunteers (I'm not counting auxiliary or special constables, different case) or where the Army was volunteers(territorials, again special case)so why should firefighters be different?
The answer, of course, is $$$! To have a paid fire service throughout the USA would mean more taxes. Would you be willing to take a property tax hike to fully finance your local Fire Service?
The "true" volunteer depts out there are even less than those which are actually paid-on-call. If you are being compensated for your calls and training time, be it a weekly, monthly, quarterly, or even yearly monetary stipend, then you are a paid on call.....despite what the dept name is.
Where i interned there was one actual volunteer dept that I knew of. Members did not get paid any monetary compensation, but did get perks like leather helmets, etc. Majority of volunteer depts did get some form of monetary compensation. The money obtained was very minimal and not financially supportive as a means of income though.
That said, the notion about being paid does depend. Today we see and hear about people saying how hard it is to get volunteers and to get people to show up. We hear complaining about training requirements and schooling necessary to be a FF (despite the level) that a warm body can't just be placed on the dept as like the social clubs of the past. So there in lies a means for an incentive to do the job, so what will it be? Yeah, goodness of heart, sense of community blah, blah, blah, but let's also remember there are many perks involved to be in the military too and most are not in the military just for love of country. So why should there be a difference in a community fire dept?
It's a volunteer fire department, so I think we shouldn't get a check like an FDNY member.
However, given the time and the economy (per person), payment per call would be a nice incentive. Departments are starting to lose members, as people are moving to other areas and/or acquiring second jobs just to get by.
In my department there's 130ish members on the active list, yet realistically it's about 35ish members that run all the calls (unless it's a working fire, in which people crawl out from the woods).
We also run 2,200+ calls per year, so it is a large burden.
What I'd like to see if a sliding scale pertaining to a pay-per-call department. Example:
-EMS Runs = $5 +$1.50 Every 10 min after the first hour
-Automatic Fire Alarms = $4
-MVAs = $4
-Working Structure Fire = $10 + $3 Every 10 Minutes After the 1st Our + $4 Every 10 Minutes After the 2nd Hour
-Haz Mat = $4 + $2.50 every 10 minutes after the first hour
It's just an idea.
Personally, I don't mind volunteering, as I do have downtime once in awhile. But for those people that have full-fledged families, a mortgage, two jobs, and bills... It's a little harder. Where I live we have extremely high property taxes, so my generation is starting to move away to cheaper areas to live. Who is going to be here to fight fires in the years to come when everyone but a few members are exterior?
wait now our whole military is volunteer by choice, yes they get paid to do it but they are still considered volunteer
Not really. The military is an all volunteer force, meaning that it is one's own accord whether to join up or not, unlike having a draft or requiring people to serve. That is the difference. It is the person's choice whether to agree to the terms and to go for the job. There is an extensive screening from physical to written testing just to be able to serve, once you hold you hand up and take an oath, things change. From that point on, the military is not about volunteering and you are now an employee of the govt, you have a contract that outlines the terms involved, with an average contract being 4 years.
There is a huge difference with a volunteer firefighter and one who volunteers to join the military service. A volly FF can pick and choose which calls to go on, which trainings to attend etc, a vet can not. Just because one volunteered to join the military doesn't make them volunteer. The point Andy is making here is that there are incentives involved with joining the military, moreso than just "love of country", you don't see people doing this for free as the thread alludes to.
It's 2011, there are two reasons why volunteer departments still exist:
1) There are enough (sufficiently(?)) trained members to respond and mitigate incidents;
2)The community is financially incapable of supporting a paid department.
Once a VFD begins compensating its members, this is most often the beginning of the path to a combination department. At some point someone is going to realize that, if instead of paying volunteers for being volunteers (and then having to wait for them to show up) why not pay for three or full-timers, who can begin mitigation within minutes?
Secondly, there are IRS rules regarding volunteers and compensation. In most cases any compensation is considered income and must be taxed (usually with a 1099). Mileage reimbursement is another means of compensation that bypasses the IRS rules. Another way around IRS is property tax abatement. The town reduces the assessment of the property to a point where the tax liability is reduced (often by half). This is one method that actually allows members to remain in an area where property taxes are unmanageable.
Thirdly, how much compensation would be required to keep a member from seeking a second job to pay bills? And could a member earn enough when not at his primary job to warrant NOT getting that second job? And how much then would that member complain about the time commitment as a "volunteer?"
The idea that people leave a VFD because of monetary needs, while valid, is almost never solvable by adding in per call or per hour compensation. I'm willing to bet that, whenever someone seriously suggests that volunteers be paid (at some level), it is out of a desire to become a paid firefighter, or to push their department into a combination one.
My Department is a combination department. The career guys get paid and the volunteers don't. How ever the volunteers do get some perks such as not paying for uniforms if we need something we talk to the capt. and they get it for us, where as the careers guys have a yearly amount they can relegate to uniforms once it is used they get to wait until the next year.
The only compentsation that our volunteers have to look forward to is a pension, which I admit is a nice insentive considering tha my department has a very good pension board. On that note you have to meet all requirements of members ship for that year to be counted towards your pension, after ten years you meet your requiretment to recieve a pension, at twenty years you qualify for more; however, you cannot draw until age 55 and cannot be an active member and receive a pension. So I gues we do get paid, once we retire.
My department is getting to the point where people AREN'T showing up. While I, as well as a few others, do still respond, we're getting down to the bare bones here, brother. For every new class we get coming in, about 1 person stays overall. The "old timers" aren't doing interior anymore, so we're very limited on interior firefighters. Most EMS calls have to be retoned out, and people aren't showing for them since we only get 1 point for those calls and they generally last much longer.
Personally, I don't mind volunteering. I love the perks that come along with it, and I love helping my community in such a manner. I've never recieved any fiscal compensation or "bonuses" directly, and that doesn't bother me one bit. A "Thank You" is all I ask for, or even a handshake.
However, there are members that are talking about it. In the coffee room some people say eventually that we'll have to move to a fully paid department (we do have paid EMS First Responders, but they can only do so much, especially when, on many occassions, we're running simultaneous EMS runs).
In the end, all I am saying is that there is a NEED for more volunteers - and this is for many departments in my area. They're always advertising for volunteers, but people cannot simply handle the load of:
-In-House Probationary Training
-Firefighter I and other Fire Academy Trainings
-Other Meetings (Everyone under 5 years is mandated to be in a certain group, whether it be "Kitchen Committee", "By-Law Committee", ect.)
-And, of course, runs per year, which are actually going up this year.
Do we DESERVE fiscal compensation? If I were an outsider looking in, I'd have to say yes - we do a lot for the community. But from MY point of view - No, it's not necessary. We signed up for a reason as a volunteer, free from monetary compensation.
My pay-pre-run idea would be nice, but only if it got to the point that we were Mutual Aiding for everything. It would not be enough fiscal means to get by as a primary job, but it would ease the financial burden on members that are having a hard time with the ever-increasing living expenses where I live.
As for the IRS, my belief is that anything $800 and above is taxable. Anything under isn't. I may be wrong, but that's what I was under the impression of when I started doing some side jobs over the internet. But since that's the internet, rules may vary, yada yada yada. I'm not accountant, nor do I work for the IRS, so don't take my word for it. You're probably right overall on that issue.
As for my community supporting full-time firefighters - It wouldn't happen. We have a decent amount in the coffers, but not enough to sustain a full-fledged firefighting force. Pay-per-call, well... I think that'd be doable. I'd say, if it were implemented, that any firefighters/EMTs being paid per call would be mandated to help with at least ONE fundraiser per half of the year, as well as make all of their necessary runs and trainings (that includes SCBA requalifications for interior firefighers). But hey, that's just me.