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#142828 - 08/04/08 08:05 PM Re: Economic Issues [Re: Lono]
MartinFocazio Offline

Pooh-Bah

Registered: 01/21/03
Posts: 2148
Loc: Bucks County PA
Originally Posted By: Lono
I'm not trying to make this political, but does anyone see the war in Iraq as contributing to a lack of personnel available to serve as volunteer firefighters?


We have one member who's been deployed five times now. He's a "white hat" and we keep losing him to various sandy and rocky places where he shoots at people and they shoot at him.

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#142836 - 08/04/08 09:01 PM Re: Economic Issues [Re: MartinFocazio]
philip Offline
Addict

Registered: 09/19/05
Posts: 639
Loc: San Francisco Bay Area
Originally Posted By: martinfocazio
>SNIP<
Oh, and to the point of fire extinguishers. If you've never practiced on live fire with one, make a way to do it. Ideally you can do it in your yard, but if not, try to find a place to learn with LIVE FIRE not some dumb simulation. You can buy small extinguishers for $12 - it's well worth it. Make a fire with something oily and stubborn - soak some rags in used motor oil and hang some old curtains over it to simulate a kitchen grease fire. You want to experience the heat and noise and feel and smell of the process before you have to do it for real.


If I may suggest taking a local CERT class, let me jump in. Our fire department teaches Community Emergency Response Team classes. We learned triage, limited search and rescue, and had hands on training with a fire hose and fire extinguishers on the fire department's training lot with fires in a tub of water.

I would hesitate to make a fire in _my_ neighborhood with oily rags under an old curtain, but never let it be said that I encouraged safety. I've lost track of the number of wild fires here in California, so one more shouldn't matter. Floating embers from burning rags are lovely at night.

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#142861 - 08/04/08 11:29 PM Re: Economic Issues [Re: MartinFocazio]
rescueguru Offline
Wanderer
Member

Registered: 09/02/06
Posts: 119
Loc: Southeastern USA
Martin, I have read the comment of the forum members to this point and I read words of the truth. For as far as the Vollies go, it's dying by degrees. Sadly, I'm afraid that we haven't seen the worst of it yet. I've spent the last 34+ years heavily involved the Fire, Rescue, and EMS in North Carolina, both career and volunteer. We are seeing a serious downturn in volunteerism for a myriad of reasons. I suspect that aging of the "Greatest Generation" and their immediate off-spring may be a contributor. While I'm not bashing the youth of today, there's a noticable lack of work ethic. If it can't be accomplished with a computer or a Playstation, not interested. Personal financial issues on the part of young married couples, especially those with children weigh heavily on the ability of the local fire-rescue companies to recruit vollies.
The training requirements are brutual by comparison to when I joined in the mid 70's. I wholeheartedly advocate training and drills as we ( the vollies) are held to the same standards as our career brothers, but where does it stop. Firefighter I & II, HazMat, EMT, Rescue Tech, Emer. vehicle driver, NIMS, WMD, and the list goes on and on.
Another problem that we've seen is the "combination" departments that pay part-time people to work tours in their stations. This keeps a lot of folks who are career personnel out of their home districts even longer or takes them out of picture entirely, because they can do the job and get payed for it, the best of both worlds.
More problems than answers my brother. I could go on forever, but it begins to sound like a rant. Good Luck and be safe.
_________________________
Forever... A long time to be dead!
Staunch advocate of the First, Second, and Fourth Amendments

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#142862 - 08/04/08 11:30 PM Re: Economic Issues [Re: MartinFocazio]
samhain Offline
Addict

Registered: 11/30/05
Posts: 598
Loc: Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Originally Posted By: martinfocazio


It might be a good time to clean your chimney, check your smoke detectors, install a few more fire extinguishers, take a first responder course.

Oh, and to the point of fire extinguishers. If you've never practiced on live fire with one, make a way to do it. Ideally you can do it in your yard, but if not, try to find a place to learn with LIVE FIRE not some dumb simulation. You can buy small extinguishers for $12 - it's well worth it. Make a fire with something oily and stubborn - soak some rags in used motor oil and hang some old curtains over it to simulate a kitchen grease fire. You want to experience the heat and noise and feel and smell of the process before you have to do it for real.


Excellent advice Martin.

My daughter looks forward to when one of the fire extinguishers starts to "go flat". That's when we sacrifice it in the driveway to let her have a little "live fire" practice.

I set a small (tiny) piece of plywood to burn in the driveway to let her practice Pull-Aim-Squeeze-Sweep.

_________________________
peace,
samhain autumnwood

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#142866 - 08/04/08 11:46 PM Re: Economic Issues [Re: samhain]
Hikin_Jim Offline
Sheriff
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 10/12/07
Posts: 1804
Loc: Southern California
One of the gals here at my office, a trained paramedic, recently resigned from a local VFD. Between her job, her son, and the requirements of the VFD, something had to give.

I know some police departments in my local area pay reserve officers when they're on duty. I don't think the get the benefits of a full timer, but I believe when on patrol they receive the same amount of pay as their full time compatriots.

Since benefits are so expensive, I wonder if paying VFD members while on duty wouldn't be a good way to keep people as well as holding the total cost down. Of course there would be many locations where even that option would be prohibitively expense, but I imagine many mid-size towns might be able to pull it off.
_________________________
Adventures In Stoving

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#142870 - 08/05/08 12:17 AM Re: Economic Issues [Re: Hikin_Jim]
BlueSky Offline
Newbie

Registered: 05/08/08
Posts: 36
Loc: DFW TX
Thanks for the reminder.

Whenever I talk to people about preps, smoke detectors and fire extinguishers are always the first things I mention (along with an escape plan). Of all the scenarios that people prepare for, I think that a fire was easily among the most likely.

In 8 years at our house, I've only needed a fire extinguisher twice. But as I found, when you need them, you REALLY need them.

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#142872 - 08/05/08 12:26 AM Re: Economic Issues [Re: Hikin_Jim]
MartinFocazio Offline

Pooh-Bah

Registered: 01/21/03
Posts: 2148
Loc: Bucks County PA
Originally Posted By: Hikin_Jim

....I wonder if paying VFD members while on duty wouldn't be a good way to keep people as well as holding the total cost down. Of course there would be many locations where even that option would be prohibitively expense, but I imagine many mid-size towns might be able to pull it off.


Then it's not "volunteer" anymore, is it?

And that's the crux of the issue - the basic concept of the volunteer service is, apparently, incompatible with the modern mode of economic activity. We had a post in this thread, I believe it was a person from Denmark, who cited "long distances to work" as a reason for the decline.

Again, this started as an article for a magazine, it's turned into something much bigger, because there's been ample newspaper reports about the "crisis in volunteer services" and they all cite the same five reasons:

- the decline in manufacturing facilities
- distance people travel for work
- increased working hours (Americans work more hours then the Japanese)
- increased training requirements
- increased pressures of family & school activity

There is absolutely NOTHING that the volunteer service can do about any of these five items. Certainly there are other industries affected by these five factors, but volunteer emergency services are uniquely positioned to suffer the most.

There are two paths leading to two different scenarios for the future of emergency services in America. The first is the path to 100% paid/paid on call or some new version of paid emergency service worker that's not really well defined yet (more on this idea later). The other path is to nothing - no nearby emergency services at all. This isn't as far-fetched as it sounds, as it's happening right now, starting with rural areas that simply don't have anyone to run calls. It's not about houses burning, it's about people laying entrapped in smashed vehicles, with no help coming. It's about dying from a serious cut. It's about a diabetic emergency turning into a diabetic coma.

As I mentioned earlier, we might end up with a new type of emergency service. In rural areas, or even semi-rural areas, it's not uncommon for a fire company to run only 100-200 calls a year, and of those calls, maybe 40% are actually emergencies, the rest are false alarms, good intent, station covers and so forth. Not only would it be expensive to staff a station with no calls for two weeks, it would likely drive the firefighters nuts just sitting around. One model that's emerging is to have the municipal road crew trained and on call as the fire department. That's the case in a few areas around here - the road crew members who want to be be firefighters are paid - as road crew - and are kept "on the clock" - as road crew - when they respond to a fire call. That's not a bad model if the road crew member is interested. That's not always the case.

Another model that has been used out west is to use prison labor. While out west, they use prisoners for wildland fires, it's not inconceivable to outfit a low-risk prisoner with a tracking ankle bracelet that's associated with a fire station and some apparatus, and have them trained as firefighters, or at least as apparatus operators (which would be a big help). Sure, it seems radical, but then again, could it work? Maybe. We have the largest prison population in the world, maybe there's an option here to provide a needed service and to teach a needed skill.

The point is that the model we currently have, which is to activate the pagers and hope for the best is failing so fast that it's clear that in 10 years, there can't be anything like what we have now. And for some of us, the end of the volunteer service is already here.



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#142875 - 08/05/08 12:36 AM Re: Economic Issues [Re: MartinFocazio]
Hikin_Jim Offline
Sheriff
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 10/12/07
Posts: 1804
Loc: Southern California
Originally Posted By: martinfocazio
Then it's not "volunteer" anymore, is it?

Yes, you're right about that. It would be something of a compromise between full time staff and all volunteer. It definitely wouldn't work in all cases.
_________________________
Adventures In Stoving

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#142877 - 08/05/08 01:25 AM Re: Economic Issues [Re: MartinFocazio]
nursemike Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 11/09/06
Posts: 788
Loc: wellington, fl
Originally Posted By: martinfocazio

And that's the crux of the issue - the basic concept of the volunteer service is, apparently, incompatible with the modern mode of economic activity. We had a post in this thread, I believe it was a person from Denmark, who cited "long distances to work" as a reason for the decline.


Volunteer systems work, maybe, in communities where folks work in the community, rather than commute, and work at jobs with the flexibility to respond to the batlight. Not many communities like that anymore. We live in a service economy that requires employees to stand the watch, and not leave to save lives. Price of economic change.

Add to that the steady attrition of rural community hospitals in favor of larger centralized medical centers, and you have nowhere to go and no way to get there. Loss of community hospital ER's concentrates the work at the remainder, as does the increasing number of uninsured, un-doctored patients for whom the ER is the only available source of primary care. The ER's are burdened beyond the capabilities of personnel and physical plant, so they go on 'bypass'-they stop accepting ambulance patients. Excess capacity in in-patient hospitals has been systematically eliminated, resulting in hospitals that reach max capacity and stop accepting admissions and stop doing elective surgeries. This becomes a crisis in most hospitals during the flu season. Add any sort of mass casualty incident and the whole system will stop working.

_________________________
Dance like you have never been hurt, work like no one is watching,love like you don't need the money.

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#142883 - 08/05/08 02:11 AM Re: Economic Issues [Re: BlueSky]
Blast Offline
INTERCEPTOR
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 07/15/02
Posts: 3558
Loc: Spring, Texas
Quote:
In 8 years at our house, I've only needed a fire extinguisher twice.


Only twice in all that time? Wow, I go through several a year... frown

-Blast
_________________________
Blogging the Borderlands
Wild Edibles Blog
I miss OBG.

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