Now before you all get upset about the title of the discussion, I am NOT the one saying this. I would NEVER say that about my volunteer brothers or about any fire fighters. I have been a volunteer for my community for 8 PROUD years. Ive been promoted to Lieutenant and currently volunteer for two different departments. I love being a volunteer, Im proud to be a volunteer, I love helping my community, and I'm not afraid to tell people that.

Now the reason that I am posting this is to find out what you all think about what was said (the title) about me by a very close family member. The exact words were "he is nothing but a half ass fire fighter", (because I'm a volunteer). When i was told what this family member said about me I felt horrible. I felt hurt, betrayed, saddened, and so much more. Now my question to all of you: How would you feel if your, (ok ill say who), your father said that about you? What would you do? Would you confront him or just hold onto it?

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Replies to This Discussion

First of all, let me start off by saying that what your father said was an outright insult to you and to every volunteer firefighter. I would tell him that just because you are a volunteer, does not mean that you are not a trained professional. We volunteers train just as intensely and have to meet the same requirements as any career/paid firefighter. 

Yep i was told by my friend that her husband thought volunteer firefighters weren't the same as fdny because he joing fdny..i was disgusted..
Coming from a family of firefighters and being a 3rd generation firefighter I have been both a career and volunteer. I have risen through the ranks, as a retired chief and currently a deputy chief (I just can't stay away)I feel your father is way off base. I have seen many firefighters, some bad, some good and some great. I never separate the career from the volunteers, we are firefighters. Each and every member has a role on scene and I thank god for each and every one who goes out and joins a department. I escaped a collapsing roof early in my career because of a volunteer, he wasn't an career firefighter, but that day he was great and I would never call anyone on that department anything but a firefighter.

So to answer your question on how I would feel, disappointed that someone would not know that the same heart of a hero beats in each firefighter. sadden by their lack of understanding in what others do and their shortness of sight. Betrayed that somewhere he was let down, maybe it was training maybe by other firefighters he was in contact with, that lead him to this conclusion.

I find it sad that your father would say such a thing to you. I am both a career and volunteer Paramedic and my family is very proud of what I do. If my family said the same things to me that your father said to you, I would be very hurt and would have to explain to him how way off base he was.

I would be pissed, and my father and me would have it out. I always pick on my father because I am a firefighter, just promoted to assistant chief with my volunteer department, and my father is a part time captain for the police department in his town. We have our jokes between firefighters and cops, but we keep it clean. As to the half a** firefighter, as volunteers, we are held to the same standards as the full time paid department guys. We have to have the same hours of training every year to keep our card current. In my county, we only have 2 full time staffed departments, and 3 part time staffed departments, the rest are all volunteer, and we work together great and train together as well. We also assist each other for mutual aid.

All in all, just because you are a volunteer doesn't make you any less of a fighter than the full time guys, it just means you choose to help your community when they need it the most. Stand proud of what you do on the department, because if we didn't all volunteer, who would?


Jason Ely

Assistant Chief/AEMT/Hazmat Tech

Mineral City VFD - Mineral City, Ohio

Volunteers are not collectively "half-ass" firefighters i know some who are amazing firefighters, they find every fire marshal training class around and go, who should take their skills to a career department but they are content where they are at on the volunteer dept., then to turn the tables on my department we do have the "half-ass" "t-shirt" firefighters who only want to say they are on something in the community they don't come to training classes they only show up to the station for meetings or the yearly "youtube drill" we do in december. I would be ticked if a family member said that to me or about me since i am second generation volunteer firefighter and hopefully soon career AND volunteer.

Hi Chris,

  Brother, I know what you are going through, as I too have received this treatment from both family members and friends. Unfortunately your stuck with family , however those who I took for friends are no longer. People are entitled to their opinions, however misguided they may be. You can fill them in and try to educate them, but most people stick with their thoughts, because they think that their opinion is right and it's the only one that matters. that Chris is human nature. Pardon me, but it sounds to me like your Dad, has issues with you. Talk it out with him, maybe you can unseat where all this is coming from. I can understand your disappointment, it hurts as you expect more from your loved ones. I reside in New York City, and as everyone knows we have the FDNY, Unionized and Paid, covering the five boroughs. We still have several Vollie companies here, but we are definately the minority. For the most part except for our service areas, most people donot even know that we exist. So you can imagine some of the BS, that I have to go through. Out in Long Island and in Upstate NY, its a whole different ballgame. mostly Volunteer and Combo departments. A lot of people can't even grab the  concept of volunteering. The public doesn't know that what makes a true firefighter, wheter paid, vollie, or combo, is that man or woman, who has that true passion, that fire in them and that makes them a Professional! Those that don't have it in them, are the asses, and are a deteriment to their crew and the public that we serve. Thank God, that those are few in numbers, just like in any other job, maybe that is what the public sees. It is our job to keep our fellow brothers and sisters in check. You know who you are Brother, keep the faith and always hold your head up high. You are doing God's work in fighting the Devil and not everyone can do this. All my Brothers and Sisters, out there, you all do the same and stay safe!


We are NOT volunteers we ARE unpaid professionals! We have just as much if not more training than paid fireman. Because we have to know it all engine co ops., truck co, rescue...etc. We may not have the number of fires some paid services have (at least in my neck of the woods). But we all do the SAME job. Would he be willing to give up his life for a TOTAL STRANGER?

I have heard people say the same kind of thing before , Career firefighters collecting for charity were at the local Sams and as I walked by I heard this women ask the man if he was the real deal or just a volunteer. He was very pc in his answer and said that he didn't want to discuss anything like that ,  he was just collecting for charity. There is no difference in training , we just like to help or community and neighbors , we have the same goal , fire protection. I am currently the Chief of a small rural fire department and have held about every position on the department for last 11 years. Our town couldn't afford paid firefighters even if they wanted to. Show everybody you come across the same respect you would want to receive.

I would confront whomever said it. You need to be trained and develop your skills just as though who do the job full-time. The difference is you get absolutely nothing in return, you give your time to train, save lives and contribute to the safety and value of your team and your community. I am going to assume the family member has never been in any type of service and has no idea what type of commitment you have selflessly made. I doubt you will change this individuals mind as their hate is rarely based on knowledge, experience, or fact. All you can do is try.

My father is proud of me for volunteering and would do so himself if he could.

as a volunteer I put my life at risk just as much as the other guys whether they are paid or not.

if he wants to call something half assed tell him to look in the mirror!

our guys and gals train hard to do their jobs and we receive no pay for it.

I answer every call I can and have a yearly average of 89% of all calls, is that half-assed?

feel proud if you are a volunteer it takes special people to be one!

LOL it's funny that this pops up now and I don't see a recent reply.  However, this came up between a relative of mine and I, not the exact words, but close enough.  He was a "paid" firefighter and I'm a volunteer firefighter, the way I have handled those comments have been, "I do it from the heart, not by the paycheck."  You will be surprise how many will look at you with a puzzled face.


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