My experience with a small, rural volunteer fire company in NY has left me completely disgusted and disheartened. "We're only volunteers" is the excuse for everything from not training to crass favoritism. Of course they never decline the tax money with "we're only volunteers."
So I need to know: are ALL volunteer fire companies just bullshit? Or are there some that really do the job and do it "professionally" and with integrity?
If you know of a kick-ass small, rural volunteer fire company serving between 2000 and 3500 people, PLEASE write and tell me about it.
I'd like to believe that the volunteer fire service isn't entirely half-scam and half-sham, and a complete waste of time.
Spartacus, I see you are from my area and hope your experience was not from my department, I would not consider us "kick ass", but we are a good group of volunteers that get the job done, we do train with our neighboring departments since we do mutualaid together often, This seems to make sure everyone is trained the same and we know what each other is capable of, Of course you will have your cliques in every department there is not much you can do about that, I guess if you would like and live close to My dept feel free to stop by any wed night i will show you around , stay safe
The level of dedication in a department is going to vary with each individual and depending on the individuals it will dictate the dedication of the department as a whole. Some think being a "Kick Ass Firefighter" means I have lights on my car and a T-Shirt that says "I Fight What you fear" and when I get on scene I grab a hose and throw as much water at the fire as possible with no thought as to how to best make use of that water.
Then there are those who think being a "Kick Ass firefighter" means training, learning, understanding and being there to protect your community and the firefighters you serve with. They understand that being a kick ass firefighter means learning how to put the fire out with the least amount of water necessary to accomplish the task and in doing so avoiding excess water damage to the home that you're trying to protect.
There are those of us who understand that being a "kick ass firefighter" means getting up and responding to the call even when it sounds like it's not going to be very exciting and there's probably someone else who could do it or when it comes at a less than convenient time. They will get out of bed at midnight to repsond to a resident who says their smoke detector keeps going off even though there's no smoke or any other sign of fire. They will get out of bed at 3 in the morning because EMS needs assistance lifting an obese patient, they will arrive with a smile, they will do the lift assist and when they're no longer needed they'll go home knowing that for that one patient they hopefully made a difference tonight.
There are those of us who believe that even though we are a volunteer firefighter that does not mean that the fire will burn more slowly, the cardiac arrest patient will wait a little longer or that the community will expect any less of us.
I am very sorry that what you've encountered was so overwhelmingly negative, I've met a few guys with that opinion myself but the vast majority of the firefighters in my department take this very seriously. As a guy who's been doing this around 8 months now I've seen a lot of guys on my department that I consider "Kick Ass Volunteer Firefighters" I do my best to follow their examples and learn from them every day and I like to think that by doing so I'm on the road to becoming a "Kick Ass Firefighter" myself.
Good luck and I hope that if you give it another shot with another department you'll find a different attitude.
Good points. Thank for your reply
Of course, the character of any organization is largely determined by the leadership. I think kick-ass means doing the best job you can, continually trying to improve, getting all the skill and knowledge you can get.
A kick-ass company rewards excellence, has one set of rules for everybody (no favoritism, which will destroy an organization faster than just about anything) and conducts itself honestly and openly.
Kick-ass leaders lead by example, training hard and encouraging others to do the same.
I'd say the opposite of a kick-ass dept is a kiss-ass dept where it's more of a "club" than anything else. In a kiss-ass company, kick-ass individuals are shunned and discriminated against until they eventually leave.
That's pretty much the story with the department I was in.
There are good small rural vollie fire departments out there. I work with a group of guys that are top notch. We are not just volunteers but members of our community. We take pride in learning and we take pride in the work that we perform. No task is to great or to small and we always communicate with each other. Yes we report to a larger department and there is a division that we would love to figure out how to gap, but we are solid brothers and sisters. We know that when we arrive at the station we are off to assist someone who is having a bad day and we discuss on the way the types of precautions we needs to take or what tools we need to carry in. While we are on scene we do what we can to be serious and professional, and when we return to the station we discuss what we did so that we can do better next time.
I would not ask for a better group to work with or to have as my neighbors. I wish you luck.
My dept has the type of volunteers who will get out of bed at 3 in the morning. We respond to all types of incidents. We dont have the type of people who "Pick and Choose" the calls they run. Our volunteers are the type of people that any person would want comming to cut them out of their car that was hit by a drunk driver or the type of people they would want going into their burning home trying to save their child or family pet. Our dept is the traditional type that is their to help people in their time of need. Our member train as if their life depends on it, WHICH IT DOES!
Well, I can only speak for one and that was one I was a member of way back when in days gone by. Belmont Fire Dept. in Greenville, SC. I know the Chief personally and can highly recommend him and his crew.