The term volunteer bothers me. We are actually "paid on call". Mostly it bothers me cause ppl seem to think we are not "real" firefighters. Like somehow we dont attend "real" fires, MVC's, medical aids, etc. Like somehow our fires are not as hot or we dont have any training. In my opinion being a "volunteer" is actually more difficult! we have other jobs too! Emergency's can happen anytime. We are on call 24-7. Our "waiting for calls" never comes to an end. We are expected to save life, property, and environment with speed and efficiency. We never know how many members will show up (which means we often work twice as hard) or who those members will be. we must be jacks of all trades. one day im entry team, the next pump op, the next tanker shuttle, the next rescue team, the next medical team, and on and on... my hall training is very specific and tough. we are working through 1001's....i do my best to enlighten ppl... anyone else have this frustration?

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I prefer the term "unpaid professional".
I have responded to this question over and over. So I can cut it down to this. Firefighter. End of story. Volunteer, career, POC, full time, part time, officer or whatever the story is the same here. Firefighter. And for those who like to insist on the BS all I can say is an annual average over 36,000 are injured and an average of 100 firefighters die in the line of duty. FYI for 2009 that number was 90 LODDs the lowest number in 15 years. So if anybody has a problem with volunteer or career firefighters, go talk to their families and tell them. Tell the surviving children and spouses that their losses were meaningless because the value of a firefighter is measured by how much money they get or don’t.
Take my advice here, don’t waste time arguing the points of career vs. volunteer, just accept the fact that we are all firefighters and respect those who didn’t make it home, by remembering their sacrifice and their families.
yup i understand this is not new.... its still bothersome to me. even our own member recently began an oilfield firefighting career and he said " now im a real firefighter, i do it for my job"... and i think the public should be informed... which is just another reason why our hall has been doing a lot of public relations type stuff. So that our community understands, and also knows we are properly trained, and thus they can feel just as safe as those residing in cities with full time halls.....
Many members on my dept., including myself are close to quitting. We have a new physician adviser that has just finished rewriting the protocols and has made everything so tough its ridiculous. We have more paperwork and we have to include more specific terms related to the protocols now in our patient care reports. Failure to do so could land you on probation pretty easily now. So, no one wants to write the reports. It has become too much for volunteer status. We have families and other jobs, we simply cannot devote this kind of time that is being expected.
Moral is horrible on my dept. We actually had a lengthy discussion in our member meeting the other night. Our Lt. mentioned that members were not responding to second calls and people needed to step up. That started a HUGE gripe session about the amount of time we are giving and can give. Many members stated that they will cover their assigned shift and that's it.
At my normal job, no one takes my EMT/FF seriously. If something happens in my response area and it hits the news they will all be talking about it the next day at work. I can chime in that i was there and something they were talking about is incorrect, they will actually ask me "why were you there?" I guess they think volunteers are just some kind of "club" that you go to once a month and you don't actually do fight fire or do patient care. Its pretty irritating at times.
i'm with you shanna... though my work ppl seem to be good.... except the leaving work for big calls. some companies allow. not mine. i often wonder if my boss knows her house is protected by a "volunteer" hall who must leave their works to save her stuff were it in fire... or her dughter in an MVC. the PEOPLE just dont know!
our hall had to finally cut back on "extra" stuff. extra training, extra community stuff, extra meetings, etc. our members were burning out. last night was call 103 this year. basically the "report" is done by scene command... like last night that was me. but i cant sit around and wait for dispatch fax... so ill head in today before work and get that done. Truck inventory is a main ssue with us. to be done once a month. not on training nights (weekly) so i ended up doing it myself cause no one else had time. same as filling our cascade. i had to do last 2 times. no one else has time (this is now being paid for which is nice). we are working on a part time hall... some ppl at hall and being paid at all times. its not going well
Okay, community perception is another issue all together. The public generally doesn't know the difference and when it is an emergency affecting one person or family they don't care. The best way to educate the public and other firefighters is to be 100% on task and take pride in your work. Quality comes from practice and dedication, no bones about it there are people in the service that are screw ups or blow-hards and make a bad impression for the rest of us. However you have a choice in how you deal with that, either feeling despondent on it or realizing that you put in the work and time. Your character has to be your first line of defense against those who would give you a hard time. If you take on the endeavor of being a firefighter and you practice your skills, know your job and provide quality service then you have a reason to be proud. So what reason does a so called "real firefighter" have, cause that sounds an awful lot like someone who is not confident in who they are. If you want the public to feel safe lead them by being on point as a responder with your crew, so all they need to know is that you are there,
If you are a vollie, then I don't think anyone should be ashamed of that or try and change the title. My FD is called a "volunteer" FD, even though we have two duty crews during the day to cover the 7 stations in our area. We are given a thank you at the end of each quarter and that amount depends on how many calls you go on. If I hit my limit of thank yous in a year, it would add up to be less than I earn in a week. So, I see everything that I do in my FD as volunteering. On the other hand it annoys me when I hear people say that we are not real fire fighters or they give you that "ah bless" smile as if we are kids just playing a game. I guess if you were paid you could say you were a professional firefighter, just like any job. But, they are no more a firefighter than any of the vollies I have the pleasure working with.
I label myself firefighter/emt yes i don't get paid to do what i do, but have the same qualifications as the others and probably the same amount of pride , but as painted on the side of our new rescue pumper " THERE IS NOTHING STRONGER THAN THE HEART OF A VOLUNTEER" .
Bill, I like that .
hmmmm.. interesting. and thanks damian. i actually get a better " wage" on call than at my "day job" same pay as career halls. its that "ah bless" smile i wanna change.. and the condesending pats on the head from some career firefighters ive run into (at FIREFIT for example) . i KNOW not all... perception has been changing since i first began and i am happy to see it. we work very hard to not be seen as the " drunk cowboys hanging off a truck with lights lol
It is the same all over the world. We call them, but we don't want to know who are they. If you try to get a job in a town (maybe your hometown), and you are willing to say, in private I'm also a member of a VFD. They Bosses start to think, : "Hmmmm, and if there is an incident, would you leave"
But they don't think, that if the danger will threat their company, WHO is coming. Maybe no one, cause they have all to stay on their jobs....

Sorry for my bad english, and yes, i am also frustrated about that...

I agree with what Mitchell said. We are all firefighters. At the end of the day, where I live, my basic training requirements are the same statewide not matter what your affiliation (career or vollie). But I would just like to point out, my volunteer department is in fact 100% VOLUNTEER. We do not get paid a wage for the calls we answer. We do not get paid a gasoline steipend to respond. We do not get paid to do inventories or fill cascade systems. We do not get paid for any aspect of the job! In addition to the meager taxpayer funded budget we do receive, we must work fundreaisers to make up the difference. Again, volunteered time. I am proud to be a VOLUNTEER FIREFIGHTER in my community. Is it difficult? Yes. Is it frustrating? Yes it can be. Do we get "credit" for what we do? Well seing the relief on someone's face when I show up is enough for me. I appreciate your frustrations, but at least you are getting additional compesation other than a sigh of releief or a good old fashion thank you; which is wonderful.


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