The staff of Firefighter Netcast have scheduled a very good program for this week however the subject matter is bringing its own problematic baggage. Taking off from a post by a fire service blogger, Fire Critic’s Rhett Fleitz carried the discussion further by commenting on the recent news that an Indiana fire department was facing a OSHA fine for a confined space close call. The point of the matter asked by both Rhett and tomorrow’s program guests is, ‘are the demands placed on volunteer firefighters harder today than years before?’ It is a simple question and a highly educational one as well. Unfortunately, the “baggage” is the career versus volunteer attitude that permeates such discussions. It’s true that in the source of the writings and conversations common attitudes and stereotypical beliefs were expressed, but the original question still lies unanswered for the volunteer fire service: are today’s demands making it hard to recruit and retain personnel?
So if you have an open mind then here is what the program is not about:
It is not about career firefighters being better than volunteer firefighters.
It is not about volunteer firefighters being stereotyped to lowly, abominable, inferior firefighters.
It is not about career departments taking over.
It is not about volunteer departments being the cheapest service.
What it is about is how can today’s volunteer firefighter keep up with the modern requirements despite the social, economic and family requirements in their personal lives? Personally, when I started all you had to do was sign up, attend and pass Maryland’s Basic Firefighter Training Course. That was it. No EMT; no hazmat; no NIMS. Sign up, pass and run calls. Everything after that was purely elective.
If you had to start all over again, in today’s day and age, would you? Would it be as easy as it may have been ‘back then?’ Is your department’s leadership expecting today’s new member to spend as much time at the firehouse as you did 10, 20 years ago?
Tune in to Firefighter Netcast: Is there is too much to know how to do, and do well, for a volunteer to keep up? Wednesday, 15 September 2100 EST. You can also download the program and listen to it later once it is aired.