Life in today's volunteer fire service...

I see a continuing trend today of departments trying to phase out volunteers to "improve services". This is B.S.! This is B.S. because at the same time you see departments cutting budgets and laying off firefighters or just not filling open positions to save the same money they spent to hire folks and phase out the volunteers. I will agree, most volunteer departments have longer response times than a full time or a part time staffed department, but to what benefit when due to budget cuts you have a station right down the road sitting idle and the rig that shows up has 2 or 3 guys on it (rather than 4 to 6 depending on the rig) because that is all that can be covered with the budget.

We volunteers are looked upon by many paid guys as inferrior, and that is just not fair. Notice, I said many, not all. Some do respect us. In the state of Ohio you have to go through a min. of a 36 hour class before you are allowed by the state to engage in interrior firefighting. Most departments are requiring a min. of 120 hour training. In my station, all volunteer, we have 1 guy with 36 (he has been around long enough that was a lot of time when he started), 4 with 240, and 3 with 120. Add to this the state requirements for continuing education and the fact that only 2 are newbies, how many hours have we logged in. I personally have a 240 hour fire card, fire inspector, fire instructor, and am a fire investigator as well as EMT-I and an EMS special topics instructor and a host of other certificates too long to list here.

We all take advangtage of any extra training we can get our hands on, not to scarff up OT, not to get out of a duty day, but to improve our abilities to do the job we love. We also often have to pay for these classes out of our own pockets and take vacation from our paying jobs to attend them which cuts down on time we can take vacations with our families, but yet we are the dogs in the eyes of many becuase of what, a pay check.

Please understand I have many friends that are part time or full time firefighters and by no means am I dogging the full time or part time guys and gals in general, just wanting to open the eyes of the guilty parties on both sides (yes I have seen vollies do the same in return and it pisses me off equally as bad).

If you read this blog, please before you turn your nose up at the guy next to you the next time you are on a scene where you have a mix of paid and volunteer firefighters think about this...

Do we both put on the same turnout gear (sure maybe not the same color or material, but you know what I mean here)?
Did we both come here to do the same job?
Does the person standing across the street give a damn about who's pay check is bigger?
Does the fire give a damn about who's paycheck is bigger?
Can the fire kill me just a fast as it can the guy next to me?
Might the guy next to me be the guy coming in to save my biscuts if the world goes to hell?


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Comment by KARL on December 29, 2008 at 7:17am
Rob , you said that very well!! I am a paid firefighter and was a volunteer for the longest time. I work for a town part time and that dept is a volunteer dept. For me as long as the guy next to me, I could care less if its a vol or paid. I see through the years that there is a turf battle. The vol. do not want paid people to come and help them and the paid guys don't want to go in the first place!! We as the fire service , have to get out of this mind set and all come together and work for the same goal and the is to protect life and property!!! That's the bottom line!!!!

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