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i am a firefighter/medic in a small rural volunteer fire dept i am also a ff/medic for two other agencies in city settings. i have six years in the volunteer service and have just recently moved into the paid aspect of the fire service. i knew that there would be some culture shock when i joined up with some inner city dept but i never thought it make me despise my current volunteer dept. we have always had issues in our dept but i was always able to look past it but recently it has hit me hard .our dept has a lot of negativity and no accountability . i was just wondering what problems others had in their dept. and how to approach it . please reply

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Basically, if you take a mold of your volunteer dept and erase the name, thats what volunteer agencies are like everywhere brother.

 

Before everyone starts in on me hear me out.  Im a volunteer, I have 22 years experience and serve as a Captain now, I was Lieutenant.  I have been in 4 departments because of constantly moving my family to find work.  I have seen it in each department...the dreaded argument about training standards being equal with every firefighter, the volunteers are the same as career and do the same job, the "Im only a volunteer with a FT job and a family and I cant do the training thats required of me" excuse.  It happens everywhere and the negativity and complacency is a requirement it seams.

Training standards are not the same.  Career guys/gals go through 239 hours just to be a basic, thats right BASIC firefighter.  Than their training continues in the house with their officers and lead firefighters, and the real-life training begins.  For the volies it seems that a 39 hour firefighter course makes them the leading expert in the fire service.  Wrong.  I have over 300 hours training and I constantly look for more and try to learn every day, does that make me an expert?  No way.  My certification states Level II Firefighter, do I want to stop there?  No way.  Should volunteers have to take the same basic school as career firefighters?  HELL YES.  We may do the same job, but fire is an equal opportunity killer, it doesnt look to see if you are career or volly, it just kills you.  So saying that we do the same job yet on the same breath say that "Im just a volunteer with a FT job and a family and I cant take that training" is not good enough.  I feel that we as volunteers need to step up to the plate and take the same training.  Lives are on the line, including your own, why should training for us be any different?  I think your family will understand the importance of you having the training that will save your life.

 

The negative attitude is the norm.  Fill a room with volunteers who either have jobs and family and are tired, trying to make their quota of calls, drills and meetings, and just want to get home to their families or their beer and TV and you get the negativity.  It breeds from the lack of desire to do the job right, its complacency at its finest (or ugliest depending on your view).  I have fought for years with this attitude, for things that should be routine, like replacing old and worn out turnout gear, or buying new equipment vital to our jobs.  To the membership, the money is more important, and not spending it.  I argue over and over we are a not-for-profit agency and if the money is there and we need equipment there shouldnt be any question or argument, but there always is.  Some older member who rarely shows up for anything yet thinks their word is law will always stand up and object spending the money and get it turned down, then disappear again for another 5 year stint before deciding to show up again...Its the same everywhere.  My department is one of the few remaining in our county, 17 departments, that still does not have a Thermal Imaging Camera...Yet when I bring it up the commissioners see the price tag and its shot down quicker than I can explain the need.  We have the money in savings and CD's, plenty of it, but they shoot it down.  Unfortunately it will have to take a fire in a town officials house where we have to completely destroy it to look for hidden fire for us to get a TIC...

Sorry about the rant brother, but I am just as mad at myslef and the rest of us volunteers as you are, and to be honest, Im kind of ashamed to be one right now.  Maybe its the fact that I have been in for 22 years and have seen it and heard it before, but its getting worse.  I hope we, as a group, can change this mindset in the others and get them to see the light...

Good luck to you brother and stay safe out there.

Moose

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