Next up on Firefighter Netcast...

 “…there is too much to know how to do, and do well, for a volunteer to keep up.”

“It’s high time for the fire service to quit trying to do everything and focus on selling what we do best.”

“It’s quite obvious that a guy who is working a “real job” 60+ hours a week can hardly master the science of the fire service, much less the art of what we do.”

Do you agree or disagree? 

Check in with Firefighter Netcast Wednesday night at 9pm ET as they bring in the authors of these questions, Josh and Patrick from the blog No Ambition
But One.

This ain’t your Daddy’s fire service radio podcast…

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I am new to the service and just going through basic training right now. There is a lot of knowledge thrown at us at first which we will get tested on at the end of the course. It is all basic stuff though, hose laying, setting the hydrant etc. But, once we get through this and start attending calls we must get at least 8 hours of training per quarter and cannot go behind for 2 quarters or we lose our place at the firehouse. That is minimum amount to stay active, but 90% of our guys turn up every week and they are the ones that go on all of the calls. So, even though most of the calls are straight forward they are always learning as they work. Plus, most of them attend almost as many calls as our duty crews do.
Generally, volunteers exist because communities cannot afford, or justify, the cost of paid firefighters. Giving up services to a private organization will cost money on some level. Either you pay for it through a tax base or by its use... kind of like a private ambulance.

I know I didn't really 'say' anything but to answer the question... I disagree. I do agree with Mike France, Chief's post. We can't do it all so each community needs to do a risk assessment and then decide to what level their FD needs to be trained, based upon its tax base and service needs. An example would be, is a fully trained and funded TRT needed when they haven't responded to a 'needed' call in a year? The initial training and yearly training requirements may be too much ($) for the community and/or the FFs who are expected to respond. (I know the service I chose in my example may set off a firestorm of emotion but it was only an example.)
Hey James,

For the record, as a volunteer, I receive no monetary compensation for my services and zero benefits except for coverage of medical bills if I am injured on scene. The county I work in gives us a $325 "bonus" at Christmas, but it is only out of the goodness of their hearts and is at their discretion. The city department I volunteer for kicks in an additional $25 as well.

So my total take of "easy money" is $350 annualy. And no bennies...

I've QUIT better part time jobs than that!!!


Hey Jason,

I would have a REAL problem with anyone who made the statement about being a volunteer and "you can't MAKE me do...".

When I volunteered for the fire service, I went in with the complete understanding that I didn't know anything and was willing to do anything required to better myself. Both for my own safety and the men and women who trust me to have their backs when things get hot(pun intended). So if my Chief tells me to go out in the parking lot and pick up pidgeon s**t with tweezers, I just nod and go get a dixie cup.

So my response would be,"You know, you are absolutely right, I can't MAKE you (......), but there is something I CAN make you do. Turn in your gear and get the hell out of my station.".


I train both career and volunteers and have heard throughout my career from (a very few) volunteers, "I'm just a volunteer. They can't make me train this/that much because what are they going to do if I don't, fire me?" Yes they will but what I try to emphasize is that fire does not differentiate between a career or volunteer firefighter... nor does the public give one rip if you're paid our not. If you're stepping off of the engine that was paid for with their tax dollars, or pancake feed money, their expectations are that you're going to "fix" their problem, not matter what it is, regardless if you're paid or not. Be safe.
Remember we are going live tonight at 9pm EST. The show will be about this topic.

All are welcome to stop in and listen as well as chat and call in to speak with the hosts and guests if you would like!

The link is here:
It was an excellent podcast last night.
I would encourage you all to do two things; (1) listen to the podcast and (2) read my blog that addresses some of this discussion here:
Sorry Reg, You have missed the point that I am a full timer and was talking about that! Good for you for being a volunteer, but I started as a volunteer and even there we were paid an hourly rate and guys would show up just to get marked in so they got there pay! So maybe your department has it under control, but even now, the only reason guys join our volunteers where I live, is to open the door for them to become full timers. Helping the community like you do it for, is being lost here!

So put your nose back in joint!
I believe that volunteers who are hired to full time departments are "re-programmed" to a certain degree. If they have already had FFI or FFII, they take it again. They go to academy for six weeks. They are told "forget about how you did at your "old" department; this is how it's done". And some even forget where they started. Some don't.
I suppose there are those who use a vollie department as a stepping stone, but to hear some guys talk, it could also be the kiss of death from the puritans.
I have been around the service for 30 years and I have never, never heard someone say "you can't make me do it because I volunteered".
If I DID hear it, rest assured there would be a fast and furious attitude adjustment.
I thought the FirefighterNetcast podcast was a very civil and open discussion of the blogs that triggered discussions here and there.
And as I have said before; no matter how it is framed, if you mention career/volunteer in the same sentence, then it is about career/volunteer.
That's why some websites have separate career and volunteer forum sections. They try in their own way to limit the chance that a bad nasty discussion would get started.
But, for me?
I got many good friends on both sides and we still have a good debate from time to time.
the funny thing is the guy who bitches about the time it takes to train is usually the same guy who plays softball 3 or 4 nights a week. Hunts, fishes, plays pool or darts at the bar, and more. Are any of those wrong? NOPE. But they make time for that but can't make time to take FF1? Please...It is all about personal motivation. If you want it bad enough you will make the time.

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