View Full Version : Any Volunteer Firefighters Out There?

Alpha Echo
01-29-2014, 06:57 PM
If so, I want your stories and knowledge! :)

My 4-year old nephew LOVES everything firefighter/fire truck related and wants very badly to be a firefighter when he grows up. He knows more about it than I do, including parts of the truck and what the driver's called and all that stuff.

I'm writing a book for him, and I don't know what the story will be yet, but I know it has to be about firefighters.

I'm hoping to gather some stories and information here that will strike a spark so I can write a kick-ass kids' book!

Any and all information is most welcome!

01-29-2014, 07:02 PM
I work with a bunch of professional ones. Is there anything specific you want to know?

Alpha Echo
01-29-2014, 07:08 PM
Well, sorta a lot.

I can do some research online, so more of the personal stuff - how they balance work, home and volunteering. What kinds of things they are called for. What it's like at the fire house. Problems they've encountered both personal and professional.

And any specific experiences, especially involving kids.

01-29-2014, 08:11 PM
Well, the bulk of fire calls are actually medical in nature. The number of fires has been going down, so many calls are for car accidents or cardiac arrests (at least here. Our fire department has a wee bit of mission creep going on. Kind of an issue in our city right now.)

There's often downtime between calls, during which they hang out at their firehouse. They sit around and talk, they make food and have meals together, they work out and they spend a disturbingly large amount of time watching TV and playing video games.

Professional firefighters usually have very long shifts, of the 12- to 24-hour variety (probably different for a volunteer FD, though). In return they do get quite a bit of time off. So they might have several days they can spend with their families, but on work days they don't see their kids at all. It's not uncommon for family members to visit the firehouse, though.

I can't think of any anecdotes involving kids right now, but I'll probably get to talk to a couple of them at work, maybe I can turn something up.

01-29-2014, 08:36 PM
My father was a volunteer firefighter and EMT for over 20 years - 5 of those as chief - in the small town where I grew up.

Being a small town, a lot of the calls were either traffic accidents, medical, or rural burns that got out of hand. There were very few structure fires over his tenure. In fact, I only remember three that were truly serious.

My father was a high school teacher. The school was 2 blocks from the fire station. As a teacher, he was allowed a reserved parking space near the entrance, but he parked on the street with his car facing the station. If he had to leave for a fire call, it saved him time to just jump in the car and pull straight out. The students all knew it was "Mr. C's Spot" and left it for him.

He wore a pager all the time. If there was an emergency call, it would start with a loud, high-pitched beep, then the dispatcher would announce something like "Paramedic One, Eaton Fire, respond to reports of fall victim at 111 Main Street." Paramedic One was the ambulance team assigned to our area from the local hospital. They were at least ten minutes away from any medical call, so the fire department was the first on scene any time there was an ambulance called.

If it was lunch, or planning period, or close to the end of the school day, my dad would go to the call. Or, on the rare occasion of a structure fire, or a call to dispatch that there were no EMTs to go on a medical call, he would get the principal to cover his classes and go in the middle of the day.

A lot of the volunteers worked shifts at nearby plants, enough so there were a variety of people available even during business hours - though a lot of them would rather have been sleeping. Some of them owned businesses near the firehouse, or worked for the town in other capacities. Because it was a small town, employers tended to be very forgiving. Also because of the nature of the town, it wasn't every day an employee had to run out for a call.

There were certain busy times. In the spring, farmers burn the accumulation of weeds out of their irrigation ditches in preparation for spring planting. Every time, there would be some idiot who left a ditch burning while he went into the house for dinner, and came back out to find the fire had gotten out of control. For a few weeks every spring, we could count on 3-5 nights a week, having our dinner interrupted by ditch fires.

When we were under a tornado warning, the volunteers had to take the trucks each on different routes out of town - so if the station got hit by a tornado, the vehicles were still available to help with the situation. More than once, my mother, brother and I rode out a close call with a tornado in the basement, not knowing if my dad would come home from this one.

Alpha Echo
01-29-2014, 09:23 PM
I can't think of any anecdotes involving kids right now, but I'll probably get to talk to a couple of them at work, maybe I can turn something up.

Very helpful, thank you! And yeah, anything you may find please share it with me. I really appreciate it!

My father was a volunteer firefighter and EMT for over 20 years - 5 of those as chief - in the small town where I grew up.

It sounds like your father was a very well-respected man in the small town. I wonder how much all of what you said differs from someone in a larger city...

Thanks for your input!

01-29-2014, 10:18 PM
Alpha Echo, can I ask you to refine your question, please. It is absolutely not fair to ask folks to spend time to tell you details you may not want to hear. Please respect that replies are a gift, not an obligation.

01-30-2014, 03:13 PM
Hi Alpha --

One thing you might consider checking into is whether your county has a Citizens Fire & Rescue Academy. We do here in Fairfax, and I'm planning to apply for it as soon as they start accepting applications next month. I think you're just down the road from me in the next county over, so if you happen to work in Fairfax County, you can still apply for our CFRA. At least that was the case for the Citizens Police Academy -- it was open to anyone who either lived or worked in Fairfax. PM me, if you're interested!

01-30-2014, 06:12 PM
Lots of books on this subject, many by firefighters and EMTs.

As Cath says, you need to narrow your question down. I used to be a firefighter/EMT, but don't want to write a book on this subject.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

02-01-2014, 01:48 AM
Does it have to be from a volunteer? My BIL is a paid fire fighter, as is the pastor at my church. I'm also a certified FF, though I don't really do it much now.

Debbie V
02-04-2014, 12:26 AM
It is similar in the suburbs to the small town story listed above. Our firefighters are all volunteers. I've known a few who were also police officers. My next door neighbor growing up had a phone in his garage. If the phone rang, we knew the alarm would go in a second.

I'm not sure anyone has a firehouse shift. They carry a blue light in their cars that warns drivers that they are heading to the fire house to suit up. (Or to take my maid of honor to my wedding so she won't be late - an illegal use.)

We do have more structure fires here than reported above. And we have separate EMTs.

More specific questions would be helpful. Check out books on firemen in your local library.