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#142885 - 08/05/08 02:16 AM Re: Economic Issues [Re: BlueSky]
OldBaldGuy Offline

Registered: 09/30/01
Posts: 5695
Loc: Former AFB in CA, recouping fr...
"...when you need them, you REALLY need them..."

Yes you do. And one thing to keep in mind is that the extinguisers you buy at the hardware store, etc, don't last long at all. A few squirts and you are done. So you have to get on a fire fast, when it is still small, hit it at the right spot first shot, and hope a lot...

#142895 - 08/05/08 03:47 AM Re: Economic Issues [Re: MartinFocazio]
Tjin Offline

Registered: 04/08/02
Posts: 1767
Originally Posted By: martinfocazio
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.

Same problem here. But we do pay volunteers for there time in training and when they are called up. It's not uncommon that volunteers this country will be payed a small volunteers fee. The fire service will often also make arrangements to pay the company's where the volunteers are working at, so they will be less reluctant to release them. It will costs money, but it sure is cheaper than having payed professional firefighters.

I have seen plenty of initiatives to get more volunteers. Some firestations even sent everybody in the workable age in town a personal letter, asking them to join. Another station is trying to get the housewife's, etc...

#142904 - 08/05/08 11:39 AM Re: Economic Issues [Re: Tjin]
bws48 Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 08/18/07
Posts: 830
Loc: Anne Arundel County, Maryland
I think the problem is getting worse, and affecting even the professional fire/ems services. Locally, fire, ems and even police cannot fill vacancies because of the lousy pay. Nor do they have the equipment to do their job. Fire, ems and police budgets not only don't grow, but get cut. IMO, the most basic and important local government services are being slowly strangled by lack of funds. No one seems to mind, except them.

Our HOA has to spend a big part of its budget hiring off-duty police to provide security. There had been several instances of major vandalism, and we needed coverage the police simply could not provide. I've tried for 8 years to get a "neighborhood watch" program set up, but no one wants to get involved. While I agree with most of the anti-HOA things said, credit to ours for recognizing a problem and spending $$ on it.

OTOH, there was a lot of favorable publicity when the county executive opened a new "doggie park." After all, the dogs needed a place to play . . .

sorry if that last comment sounds bitter.
"Better is the enemy of good enough."

#142910 - 08/05/08 01:08 PM Re: Economic Issues [Re: bws48]
OldBaldGuy Offline

Registered: 09/30/01
Posts: 5695
Loc: Former AFB in CA, recouping fr...
"...No one seems to mind..."

Well, John Doe Citizen sure minds, when he/she doesn't get the level of service desired. They scream like a banshee. But they also are the first to gripe when taxes are raised to pay for that service.

10-4 on the doggie park comment...

#142914 - 08/05/08 02:12 PM Re: Economic Issues [Re: MartinFocazio]
HerbG Offline

Registered: 02/12/07
Posts: 142
I am very fortunate to live in a small city (20,000) that has had an outstanding volunteer fire department for many years. The department is in the process of transitioning to a full time paid department. While our department is very well equipped and its members well trained, I know that is not the case in many rural volunteer departments. Several volunteer departments have discontinued service because their equipment is so old and broken down that it is dangerous. Many residents of these areas refuse (or cannot afford) to pay the annual "fire dues" that fund the department. I suspect most of those good folks would easily come up with the money if their house were actually on fire! It is sad that volunteers are willing to do the work, face the risks, and help raise money, but there is little community support for what they do. The increase in their homeowner's insurance premiums would easily help fund these small departments.

#142924 - 08/05/08 04:40 PM Re: Economic Issues [Re: Blast]
BobS Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 02/08/08
Posts: 924
Loc: Toledo Ohio
Originally Posted By: Blast
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


Several times a year? Maybe Blast is a good descriptive name…

You can run, but you'll only die tired.

#142935 - 08/05/08 06:24 PM Re: Economic Issues [Re: BobS]
Blast Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 07/15/02
Posts: 3561
Loc: Spring, Texas
Several times a year? Maybe Blast is a good descriptive name…

You have no idea laugh

Blogging the Borderlands
Wild Edibles Blog
I miss OBG.

#142936 - 08/05/08 06:40 PM Re: Economic Issues [Re: Blast]
thseng Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 03/24/06
Posts: 900
Loc: NW NJ
That story still brings tears to my eyes. cry
- Tom S.

"Never trust and engineer who doesn't carry a pocketknife."

#143130 - 08/07/08 04:05 AM Re: Economic Issues [Re: bws48]
clarktx Offline

Registered: 07/01/08
Posts: 250
Loc: Houston, Texas
Originally Posted By: bws48
Our HOA has to spend a big part of its budget hiring off-duty police to provide security. There had been several instances of major vandalism, and we needed coverage the police simply could not provide. I've tried for 8 years to get a "neighborhood watch" program set up, but no one wants to get involved.

I almost moved into a neighborhood that had this same problem. Its a paradoxical thing nowadays. If a neighborhood in Houston has any crime, people just move out. Hey, its a lot easier than donating a few hours a week, and you get a shiny new house! (yes, thats sarcasm).

Of course, all generalities are false, I am only speaking about what I have been personally exposed to.

Martin, I wouldn't be surprised if this "lack of neighborhood watch" parallels the same problem with the VFDs, and if your article turns into a book this could be a related sidebar.
You can't teach experience.

#143823 - 08/12/08 05:49 AM Re: Economic Issues [Re: clarktx]
Susan Offline

Registered: 01/21/04
Posts: 5163
Loc: W. WA
I have never understood from the beginning how volunteer firefighters and EMTs manage to do what they do. The criteria must be astounding, and there can't be many who fit:

1. Have a job that pays well enough so you can volunteer.
2. Have a job that allows you to leave on a moment's notice.
3. Live, work and volunteer all in the same area.
4. Have a spouse that doesn't b***h about the dangers and your absenses from birthday parties and ball games.
5. Be in good enough health to do the job.
6. Pay for your own training.

Just the logistics of making it all work must be staggering.

The cost of the war in Iraq is currently about $648 BILLION dollars, with no end in sight.

The number of fire departments in the U.S. in 2006 was 30,635.

If you divided those billions by the number of fire departments (less those on Long Island, of course), they would each get over 21 million dollars.

But our 545 People have other priorities.


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