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Why are Volunteer firefighters hated so much??? I have been wondering this from the day I started. I never thought is was as bad until we had lager 100,000 sq commercial fire. We where on seen with in 5 min and when I pulled on scene the building was already burning from one side to the next. We had 6 towns helping us. We never sent anyone in because the building was empty and we knew the building was not safe. When the fire hit the papers the bad mouthing started online. Call us scabs and it burned because we are volunteers and if we were full time it would never happen. But the 2 full time depts up north from me lost a appt building and the other lost a larger home, they got "great good". It really makes me mad we have the same training and certs and we fight the same fire. My town has been vol from day one, we have been trying to have some full time but the state keeps cutting money. Don't understand their problem, in my eye there are a disgrace to the fire service. I could understand if my town was w full time dept and they went to vol but thats not the case. What do they expect when town don't have money to run a vol dept how the hell are they going to pay full timers. The funny thing is all these full times that talk crap moved to a vol town, go back to your full time city. Why can't we get a lot and help each other.

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Here's why SOME volunteer firefighters are hated; because of the knuckleheads who don't take it seriously and make a**** out of themselves. That's why. I would hazard a guess and say some idiot wanna be volunteer did something really dumb and everyone who witnessed it just assumed every volunteer must be that way.

I'm a career union firefighter and I have to deal with people who complain about union firefighters because of something stupid a union brother did.

Here's what you can do to make it better: GET BETTER. Be the best firefighter you can be, make your department the best department it can be. And don't worry about the faceless cowards online. We have that problem here. They are cowards. If they were as brave as they talked, they would be riding on the truck with you.

Stay strong brother.

I couldn't have said it better myself.  Remember the old adage "One bad apple spoils the whole bunch"?  There's a good chance that's what has happened here, just like Kelly suggested.  The big thing you and your guys have to remember is that you can't take all the bad comments and press to heart.  That should only make you guys strive to be better. 

 

Prove to the "haters" out there that your vollies are just as capable as your career neighbors.  But remember to not let that idea cloud your judgement and put you and your people in a dangerous situation just to prove yourselves.  The people that are bad mouthing the vollies have no idea what we go through.  A lot think that since we volunteer, we are not held to the same standard as our career brothers.  A little public education can fix that pretty quick.

 

Stay safe 

In response to your one line about having the same certs and fight the same fire...I hate to admit it but we do not have the same certs as our paid brothers/sisters.  I have been a volunteer for 22 years and serve as Captain, I am a level II Firefighter and have numerous other certs but had to take numerous hours of training to get here.  Most of the departments in our county used to accept "Essentials of Firemanship" as their interior qualification.  This is only a 39 hour course.  Today its Firefighter I which is 79 hours.  Thats a lot of hours, but still not what the "Basic Firefighter" in a paid department has to go through.  To all the paid firefighters out there correct me if I am wrong but you guys go through an academy thats like 239 hours long, correct?  Thats just to be able to fight fires.  Than you take additional training for Haz-Mat and Rescue and EMS.  Its never ending training in a career department, yet with some of the vollunteers in my area they take the basic course and never attend another course for the entire time they fight fires...THATS scary.

Most of us vollies take the training, and refresh the training and stay efficient.  But there are the "Bad Apples" as mentioned earlier that ruin it for all of us.  MOSTLY the "Chiefs" that may wear a white coat yet in my eyes cant lead a fat guy into an all you can eat buffet let alone lead firefighters into a fire.  They get the title because their daddy was a chief, and their grandfather, and uncles yadda yadda.  They think they have "Inherrited" their skills and do not need training, so they are good chiefs...WRONG.  The volunteer service needs to increase their training standards, increase our standards for nominating and electing officers, and listen to our paid bretheren as they pass down their knowledge and experience to us, and make it a better service to the people we protect.  Thats why we are here, to protect the people that call for help, and not for our ego, or our reputation.

 

-Brian, when I went through the fire academy basic training almost 20 tears ago, the academy was five months of training day in and day out in a military basic training environment. A newly hired firefighter graduated the academy with 650 hours of training, Firefighter I&II, Haz Mat Level II, and numerous other certs, not to mention having to maintain an EMT-B licensure which is required just for admittance to the academy. 

-Though there is a huge disparity in the amount of training and subsequent experience levels of career firefighters vs volunteer firefighters, that disparity does not obviate or relieve any firefighter from the burden of having to perform in a professional manner.

-The pecking order aside and paying respect where it is due, Professionalism is a word used in my vocabulary denoting a level of service delivery. All firefighters must be aware of this performance level and aspire to this standard; if they cannot they should be relieved of the esteemed title of Firefighter and throw out of their department. Do your actions around the firehouse show professionalism? Do you inspire professionalism? Are you a professional on scene? Does your volunteer firehouse have a bar in it? Is the station little more than a social club? Do you train daily? Are you an expert at something?

-Professionalism; the quest for excellence. 

Brian, the number of hours required to be a firefighter vary state by state. Here in Missouri you can be firefighter 1&2 in 160 hours. Some departments don't have any qualifications before they put you on. 

Brian Jones said:

In response to your one line about having the same certs and fight the same fire...I hate to admit it but we do not have the same certs as our paid brothers/sisters.  I have been a volunteer for 22 years and serve as Captain, I am a level II Firefighter and have numerous other certs but had to take numerous hours of training to get here.  Most of the departments in our county used to accept "Essentials of Firemanship" as their interior qualification.  This is only a 39 hour course.  Today its Firefighter I which is 79 hours.  Thats a lot of hours, but still not what the "Basic Firefighter" in a paid department has to go through.  To all the paid firefighters out there correct me if I am wrong but you guys go through an academy thats like 239 hours long, correct?  Thats just to be able to fight fires.  Than you take additional training for Haz-Mat and Rescue and EMS.  Its never ending training in a career department, yet with some of the vollunteers in my area they take the basic course and never attend another course for the entire time they fight fires...THATS scary.

Most of us vollies take the training, and refresh the training and stay efficient.  But there are the "Bad Apples" as mentioned earlier that ruin it for all of us.  MOSTLY the "Chiefs" that may wear a white coat yet in my eyes cant lead a fat guy into an all you can eat buffet let alone lead firefighters into a fire.  They get the title because their daddy was a chief, and their grandfather, and uncles yadda yadda.  They think they have "Inherrited" their skills and do not need training, so they are good chiefs...WRONG.  The volunteer service needs to increase their training standards, increase our standards for nominating and electing officers, and listen to our paid bretheren as they pass down their knowledge and experience to us, and make it a better service to the people we protect.  Thats why we are here, to protect the people that call for help, and not for our ego, or our reputation.

 

Mike-  Thats what I thought.  Im in NY, and I know that the career people here go to a 200-300 hour academy where they get Firefighter I & II, Haz-Mat Ops, safety & survival ect. 

In the county I am in we do the outreach training programs via the NYS Instructors in our area and some from OFPC for courses like AVET and Haz-Mat Tech.  SOME of us (not too many) actually go to the academy in Montaur Falls for training whenever we can. 

I try to pass on the professional attitude to all new members by acting accordingly, and by showing that even though we volunteer our time, we still need to act as a professional.  Professionals need to know their jobs well and at the same time remain calm, show that they are in control and treat others with respect.  Growing up in my fathers volunteer house on Long Island I was taught early on to respect my seniors, officers and those with more training.  As a Junior Firefighter in the same house we had to stand at attention when the chief walked into our meetings until he released us.  At fires we were to keep our mouths shut and follow orders when given them without question, and we did.  Picture a bunch of teens standing at the ready at the staging area and whenever an order is given 2 would run off and do the job without question, than return to staging.  Try to give a few kids an order in a high school and see what happens!! LOL

As a rookie firefighter I had the "pleasure" of washing each truck AND all of the equipment inside the truck, and when asked to get a tool I had to have it in the officers/firefighters hands in seconds, or wash the truck all over again.  On scenes everyone in the department had their black helmets...not the rookies, we had bright orange helmets with a shield that said "Probationary Firefighter", when any firefighter on scene asked for something we did it, no arguing, no attitude ("Get it yourself a$@").  We were expected to sit up front for all meetings and training classes, and after each class we had to present an oral presentation to the department at the next monthly meeting about what we learned, if we didnt impress the officers we took the class again.  The sad part is, if you tried any of this stuff today in any of these departments around me, you would be labled an a@#H&^%  and a bad example of an officer and be kicked out of office.  People are just not as dedicated and professional as they used to be.

 

Kelley-  I hear ya.  When I first started out as a firefighter in 1989, they took the new people to a drill, showed them the air packs and tools, had them wear them and use them a little and than you were able to pack up at the next fire.  Very little training before actually going interior and thats why the LODD rate was so high back then.  My county accepted "Essentials of Firemenship", 39 hours of classroom training, as interior qualification.  For the hands on part of that course we carried ladders around, put them up and took them down.  Stretched a handline off an engine and flowed water for a few minutes into a pond or creek.  We did the "maze" while placing wax paper in the facemasks but no real training for the search technique was given, just crawl in, find the dummy, crawl out.  At least today its Firefighter I which is 79 hours of classroom and hands on training at our new county training tower with live burns and smoke house.  They learn self rescue techniques and basic haz-mat ops as well now.

Its getting better, but I still say that our training standards (as volunteers) need to be the same as career personnel.  Will I see it in my lifetime, probably not, but if I can help get the ball rolling for future firefighters I will do what I can.

Stay Safe everyone and keep training.

 

I am not convinced that all volunteers are hated the way you describe.  I will agree, however, that volunteers do get a bad rep from media, and from some career departments.  In Vermont, I have heard multiple career guys say "f'n volunteers", or use the term "basement savers" when talking about volunteer departments in their area. 

 

Here's what it comes down to, in my opinion.  I am proud to be a volley.  I am proud to say that I am a member of my department.  We hold ourselves to a high training standard and train to be an aggressive department.  I am proud to walk in the parade every July 4th and see people stand up for us and cheer for us.  That is my pay.

 

Your reputation as a volunteer department comes down to the leadership that you provide.  It needs to be a top down model.  If the leadership is not there, the standards will drop, the training will become hap-hazard, and your department will pay the price...hopefully only in your reputation; God forbid anyone gets hurt or killed. 

 

I don't think that it is very practicle, however, to say that volunteer departments need to have the same training schedule, or required amount of hours that career departments do.  We have a hard enough time recruiting members as it is.  Remember, volleys are giving up their free time after they get home from work to serve their communities.  There needs to be a balance between trying to recruit members and the amount of required training hours.  Having said that, I think that departments need to train at least EVERY WEEK.  When I first joined the fire service as a junior member, the department that I was on at the time trained once a month...for a couple hours.  This is unacceptable.  When I went to college and joined Saint Michaels Fire in VT, we trained twice a week.  After I graduated, I stayed in Colchester, am on Colchester Center, and we train weekly; every Wednesday.  We also encourage members to seek outside trainings in the form of county fire schools, and classes at NFA.  Our members must first go through a basic course put on by the county, before they can run fire calls.  The basic course meets twice a week, for about 4 months.  Is this the best system?  Probably not, but we are trying to get the right balance between recruiting and required training hours.

 

Remember, you need to have people sign up in order to even have a department.  When you don't get paid to put your life on the line, you need to try to find a balance, while still providing the best possible training.

 

The training philosophy of your department, and the standards that your department holds itself to needs to come from your Chief Officers.  If it does not, then your department will struggle to provide the most professional service to your community. 

 

Be proud to be a volunteer.  Have some pride in the work that you do.  Fight fire like you train!! 

 

The fire doesn't care if you are a career guy or a volley.  Hold yourself and your department to a higher standard.

Thanks everyone for the positive words, I see where some people come from I know there are a lot of vol dept out there that have nothing for traning and should not even pick up a nozzle will as even fight a fire. I know my guys fight hard and we have 100’s of hours training and some people don’t know that and we have had union FF say we do great work and most of our community appreciates us and thats a great feeling. As long as we keeping fighting hard and love what we do we will be good. Thanks everyone stay safe.

-Trevor I understand what you're saying about training requirements, time constraints and membership recruitment and retention. But, these constraints do not alleviate the need for training standards needing to be raised in the volunteer sector, especially when the volunteers (even Jason who started this blog) like to say they do the same job as the paid sector. Therefore, if it's the same job then training standards must be raised to not just elevate competency but firefighter safety as well.

-Jason, you're correct when you say "love the job". If you love it you will protect and nurture it. But, just like a marriage, you can't live on love alone. There must be the requisite "blood, sweet and tears" put in during regular, practical; aggressive, realistic and competently administered training. 

-Training augments experience. Training is "experience without consequences". Training builds confidence and competence in tools and techniques. Certifications simply put provide parameters and teaching goals for training sessions.

I agree with a lot of what you said but you can't hold your standards lower for volunteers just because you want people on the truck. Like you said, the fire doesn't care if you are paid or volunteer, you still have to know how to handle it. If you are going to hold people to lower standards then you can not expect them to do what someone else held to a higher standard can do. If you do then you must adjust your policies and tactics to compensate.

Trevor Ashe said:

I am not convinced that all volunteers are hated the way you describe.  I will agree, however, that volunteers do get a bad rep from media, and from some career departments.  In Vermont, I have heard multiple career guys say "f'n volunteers", or use the term "basement savers" when talking about volunteer departments in their area. 

 

Here's what it comes down to, in my opinion.  I am proud to be a volley.  I am proud to say that I am a member of my department.  We hold ourselves to a high training standard and train to be an aggressive department.  I am proud to walk in the parade every July 4th and see people stand up for us and cheer for us.  That is my pay.

 

Your reputation as a volunteer department comes down to the leadership that you provide.  It needs to be a top down model.  If the leadership is not there, the standards will drop, the training will become hap-hazard, and your department will pay the price...hopefully only in your reputation; God forbid anyone gets hurt or killed. 

 

I don't think that it is very practicle, however, to say that volunteer departments need to have the same training schedule, or required amount of hours that career departments do.  We have a hard enough time recruiting members as it is.  Remember, volleys are giving up their free time after they get home from work to serve their communities.  There needs to be a balance between trying to recruit members and the amount of required training hours.  Having said that, I think that departments need to train at least EVERY WEEK.  When I first joined the fire service as a junior member, the department that I was on at the time trained once a month...for a couple hours.  This is unacceptable.  When I went to college and joined Saint Michaels Fire in VT, we trained twice a week.  After I graduated, I stayed in Colchester, am on Colchester Center, and we train weekly; every Wednesday.  We also encourage members to seek outside trainings in the form of county fire schools, and classes at NFA.  Our members must first go through a basic course put on by the county, before they can run fire calls.  The basic course meets twice a week, for about 4 months.  Is this the best system?  Probably not, but we are trying to get the right balance between recruiting and required training hours.

 

Remember, you need to have people sign up in order to even have a department.  When you don't get paid to put your life on the line, you need to try to find a balance, while still providing the best possible training.

 

The training philosophy of your department, and the standards that your department holds itself to needs to come from your Chief Officers.  If it does not, then your department will struggle to provide the most professional service to your community. 

 

Be proud to be a volunteer.  Have some pride in the work that you do.  Fight fire like you train!! 

 

The fire doesn't care if you are a career guy or a volley.  Hold yourself and your department to a higher standard.

Michael and Kelly...

 

Absolutely not...thank you for pointing out this distinction.  I was trying to make that point, but maybe I was not as thorough in my explanation. 

 

Our training standards cannot be lowered. The frequency and time constraints might be different, but the high level of competency that is is expected to come from training cannot be any different.  Volunteer training programs need to be able to deliver the same material at the same standard, in less available time.  In essence, I would argue, volunteer departments need to be more efficient in their training programs because they need to deliever the same message, with the same quality and expectations in, as Michael correctly put, both competency and safety, while doing it in less available training hours.  Additionally, the volunteer sector cannot take short cuts on these standards based on available time and resources.

 

Fight like you train.  Train hard.  Train smart.

Thats what I kinda thought you meant. You are 110% correct.

Trevor Ashe said:

Michael and Kelly...

 

Absolutely not...thank you for pointing out this distinction.  I was trying to make that point, but maybe I was not as thorough in my explanation. 

 

Our training standards cannot be lowered. The frequency and time constraints might be different, but the high level of competency that is is expected to come from training cannot be any different.  Volunteer training programs need to be able to deliver the same material at the same standard, in less available time.  In essence, I would argue, volunteer departments need to be more efficient in their training programs because they need to deliever the same message, with the same quality and expectations in, as Michael correctly put, both competency and safety, while doing it in less available training hours.  Additionally, the volunteer sector cannot take short cuts on these standards based on available time and resources.

 

Fight like you train.  Train hard.  Train smart.

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