Volunteer firefighters should have the same recognition as their full-time counterparts

Opinion Dec 06, 2017 by Doug Roche Stoney Creek News

I am a retired volunteer firefighter station captain with 28 years of service and it has come to my attention that there is some discrepancy between the way the full-time firefighters and volunteer firefighters are receiving some updated information and training procedures.

I hear the volunteers are asking for the same recognition and rightfully so. The management of the fire service seems to deny there is problem. The volunteers were told by Hamilton officers working at a mutual aid emergency call that the volunteer firefighters who were on the scene prior to the full-time firefighters arriving did not make the correct decisions on a procedure. There was some discussion on the scene about who was right. This procedure change is something that should have been clarified in a classroom, not on the scene. It appears to me that the up-to-date training is probably not getting to the volunteers in time when procedures have changed for any emergencies.

Prior to amalgamation, there always was a rift between some of the full-time career firefighters and the volunteers. It seemed some believed the full-timers were far better trained with their updated equipment and more advanced education, compared to the volunteers, although the training for both is the same. At one time, some full-time firefighters were also on volunteer departments while they were off-duty and helped the community with fire responses, which was greatly appreciated by all.

Long before the City of Hamilton amalgamated, the volunteers did their own training to fight fires within their district, as well as first aid, including CPR and oxygen therapy, car accidents with training in auto-extrication and high-angle rope rescues, which was a necessity due to the escarpment and water falls in the area. Prior to amalgamation, all the training was done in-house. For specialized training, we had outside instructors brought in for lectures and training. We also received extensive training from the EMS Department. All the training was organized by the individual districts, which were Stoney Creek, Waterdown, Ancaster, Rockton, Freelton, Lynden, Greensville, Mount Hope and Binbrook.

The question here is, does a volunteer fire department not have real building fires, or real car accidents where people are trapped and the volunteers have to use their skills learned from all their training to extricate patients out of serious car accidents? How about the real medical calls where the patients are in distress for whatever reason and the ambulance/paramedics are a further distance from the district?

Now here's the clincher: Hamilton has been inundated with rope rescues from hikers falling over falls while hiking where they shouldn't be. The volunteer fire departments have been dealing with this problem for more than 25 years and it continues today, as well as real recovery calls, where people choose to end their life. And what about all the years where the volunteer fire departments did community service by taking part in school fun fairs or community activities like Santa Clause parades every year and charity drives? And let's not forget that they also do real charity work.

Just a footnote, the volunteer firefighters did these services for no wages or benefits for many years.

Also unknown to a lot of the public is the fact that each district dedicated their spare time (not that they had a lot of spare time) hosting car washes, community garage sales and bake sales in order to obtain more updated equipment, like a defibrillator and a thermal imaging camera used to detect life forms inside a building fire. After amalgamation, the City of Hamilton decided the camera would be better off used within the city, rather than the outskirts. It was later recovered and returned to the volunteers. The fundraising was also used to obtain fire hall furniture and upgrade the hall for community events because that's what we used to do to save the taxpayers money. These firefighters also used their spare time to sponsor local baseball and hockey teams within our district.  And let's not forget the Cubs, Scouts, Brownies and kindergarten classes who came through the hall to learn fire safety.

For many years, volunteers have had to leave numerous family functions because of real fire calls. For 28 years, I too have had to leave family functions, but I knew I had the support of my family in doing my part for the community. I have had the opportunity to work and train along side these volunteer firefighters and they are just as well trained and skilled as the full-time firefighters in Hamilton. Fire brass needs to wake up and realize that these volunteer firefighters should receive the same updated procedures as soon as possible, so there is no conflict on a fire scene.

The volunteers firefighters should have the same recognition as the full-timers. Even though they don't receive the same pay or benefits, they all have the same training to respond to real emergencies. Volunteer firefighters are compensated with a pay grid outlined after amalgamation through the CLAC 911 union, which by no means matches the full-time firefighters, with health benefits and pensions. Hamilton Fire management needs to open their eyes and realize they have great resources in these volunteer firefighters. If there is nothing done about this situation, the outlining communities are to going to be in trouble, with first responders not responding to emergency calls and training.

Doug Roche is a retired volunteer firefighter station captain with 28 years experience. He currently lives in Port Dover, but previously resided in Flamborough.

Volunteer firefighters should have the same recognition as their full-time counterparts

Opinion Dec 06, 2017 by Doug Roche Stoney Creek News

I am a retired volunteer firefighter station captain with 28 years of service and it has come to my attention that there is some discrepancy between the way the full-time firefighters and volunteer firefighters are receiving some updated information and training procedures.

I hear the volunteers are asking for the same recognition and rightfully so. The management of the fire service seems to deny there is problem. The volunteers were told by Hamilton officers working at a mutual aid emergency call that the volunteer firefighters who were on the scene prior to the full-time firefighters arriving did not make the correct decisions on a procedure. There was some discussion on the scene about who was right. This procedure change is something that should have been clarified in a classroom, not on the scene. It appears to me that the up-to-date training is probably not getting to the volunteers in time when procedures have changed for any emergencies.

Prior to amalgamation, there always was a rift between some of the full-time career firefighters and the volunteers. It seemed some believed the full-timers were far better trained with their updated equipment and more advanced education, compared to the volunteers, although the training for both is the same. At one time, some full-time firefighters were also on volunteer departments while they were off-duty and helped the community with fire responses, which was greatly appreciated by all.

Long before the City of Hamilton amalgamated, the volunteers did their own training to fight fires within their district, as well as first aid, including CPR and oxygen therapy, car accidents with training in auto-extrication and high-angle rope rescues, which was a necessity due to the escarpment and water falls in the area. Prior to amalgamation, all the training was done in-house. For specialized training, we had outside instructors brought in for lectures and training. We also received extensive training from the EMS Department. All the training was organized by the individual districts, which were Stoney Creek, Waterdown, Ancaster, Rockton, Freelton, Lynden, Greensville, Mount Hope and Binbrook.

The question here is, does a volunteer fire department not have real building fires, or real car accidents where people are trapped and the volunteers have to use their skills learned from all their training to extricate patients out of serious car accidents? How about the real medical calls where the patients are in distress for whatever reason and the ambulance/paramedics are a further distance from the district?

Now here's the clincher: Hamilton has been inundated with rope rescues from hikers falling over falls while hiking where they shouldn't be. The volunteer fire departments have been dealing with this problem for more than 25 years and it continues today, as well as real recovery calls, where people choose to end their life. And what about all the years where the volunteer fire departments did community service by taking part in school fun fairs or community activities like Santa Clause parades every year and charity drives? And let's not forget that they also do real charity work.

Just a footnote, the volunteer firefighters did these services for no wages or benefits for many years.

Also unknown to a lot of the public is the fact that each district dedicated their spare time (not that they had a lot of spare time) hosting car washes, community garage sales and bake sales in order to obtain more updated equipment, like a defibrillator and a thermal imaging camera used to detect life forms inside a building fire. After amalgamation, the City of Hamilton decided the camera would be better off used within the city, rather than the outskirts. It was later recovered and returned to the volunteers. The fundraising was also used to obtain fire hall furniture and upgrade the hall for community events because that's what we used to do to save the taxpayers money. These firefighters also used their spare time to sponsor local baseball and hockey teams within our district.  And let's not forget the Cubs, Scouts, Brownies and kindergarten classes who came through the hall to learn fire safety.

For many years, volunteers have had to leave numerous family functions because of real fire calls. For 28 years, I too have had to leave family functions, but I knew I had the support of my family in doing my part for the community. I have had the opportunity to work and train along side these volunteer firefighters and they are just as well trained and skilled as the full-time firefighters in Hamilton. Fire brass needs to wake up and realize that these volunteer firefighters should receive the same updated procedures as soon as possible, so there is no conflict on a fire scene.

The volunteers firefighters should have the same recognition as the full-timers. Even though they don't receive the same pay or benefits, they all have the same training to respond to real emergencies. Volunteer firefighters are compensated with a pay grid outlined after amalgamation through the CLAC 911 union, which by no means matches the full-time firefighters, with health benefits and pensions. Hamilton Fire management needs to open their eyes and realize they have great resources in these volunteer firefighters. If there is nothing done about this situation, the outlining communities are to going to be in trouble, with first responders not responding to emergency calls and training.

Doug Roche is a retired volunteer firefighter station captain with 28 years experience. He currently lives in Port Dover, but previously resided in Flamborough.

Volunteer firefighters should have the same recognition as their full-time counterparts

Opinion Dec 06, 2017 by Doug Roche Stoney Creek News

I am a retired volunteer firefighter station captain with 28 years of service and it has come to my attention that there is some discrepancy between the way the full-time firefighters and volunteer firefighters are receiving some updated information and training procedures.

I hear the volunteers are asking for the same recognition and rightfully so. The management of the fire service seems to deny there is problem. The volunteers were told by Hamilton officers working at a mutual aid emergency call that the volunteer firefighters who were on the scene prior to the full-time firefighters arriving did not make the correct decisions on a procedure. There was some discussion on the scene about who was right. This procedure change is something that should have been clarified in a classroom, not on the scene. It appears to me that the up-to-date training is probably not getting to the volunteers in time when procedures have changed for any emergencies.

Prior to amalgamation, there always was a rift between some of the full-time career firefighters and the volunteers. It seemed some believed the full-timers were far better trained with their updated equipment and more advanced education, compared to the volunteers, although the training for both is the same. At one time, some full-time firefighters were also on volunteer departments while they were off-duty and helped the community with fire responses, which was greatly appreciated by all.

Long before the City of Hamilton amalgamated, the volunteers did their own training to fight fires within their district, as well as first aid, including CPR and oxygen therapy, car accidents with training in auto-extrication and high-angle rope rescues, which was a necessity due to the escarpment and water falls in the area. Prior to amalgamation, all the training was done in-house. For specialized training, we had outside instructors brought in for lectures and training. We also received extensive training from the EMS Department. All the training was organized by the individual districts, which were Stoney Creek, Waterdown, Ancaster, Rockton, Freelton, Lynden, Greensville, Mount Hope and Binbrook.

The question here is, does a volunteer fire department not have real building fires, or real car accidents where people are trapped and the volunteers have to use their skills learned from all their training to extricate patients out of serious car accidents? How about the real medical calls where the patients are in distress for whatever reason and the ambulance/paramedics are a further distance from the district?

Now here's the clincher: Hamilton has been inundated with rope rescues from hikers falling over falls while hiking where they shouldn't be. The volunteer fire departments have been dealing with this problem for more than 25 years and it continues today, as well as real recovery calls, where people choose to end their life. And what about all the years where the volunteer fire departments did community service by taking part in school fun fairs or community activities like Santa Clause parades every year and charity drives? And let's not forget that they also do real charity work.

Just a footnote, the volunteer firefighters did these services for no wages or benefits for many years.

Also unknown to a lot of the public is the fact that each district dedicated their spare time (not that they had a lot of spare time) hosting car washes, community garage sales and bake sales in order to obtain more updated equipment, like a defibrillator and a thermal imaging camera used to detect life forms inside a building fire. After amalgamation, the City of Hamilton decided the camera would be better off used within the city, rather than the outskirts. It was later recovered and returned to the volunteers. The fundraising was also used to obtain fire hall furniture and upgrade the hall for community events because that's what we used to do to save the taxpayers money. These firefighters also used their spare time to sponsor local baseball and hockey teams within our district.  And let's not forget the Cubs, Scouts, Brownies and kindergarten classes who came through the hall to learn fire safety.

For many years, volunteers have had to leave numerous family functions because of real fire calls. For 28 years, I too have had to leave family functions, but I knew I had the support of my family in doing my part for the community. I have had the opportunity to work and train along side these volunteer firefighters and they are just as well trained and skilled as the full-time firefighters in Hamilton. Fire brass needs to wake up and realize that these volunteer firefighters should receive the same updated procedures as soon as possible, so there is no conflict on a fire scene.

The volunteers firefighters should have the same recognition as the full-timers. Even though they don't receive the same pay or benefits, they all have the same training to respond to real emergencies. Volunteer firefighters are compensated with a pay grid outlined after amalgamation through the CLAC 911 union, which by no means matches the full-time firefighters, with health benefits and pensions. Hamilton Fire management needs to open their eyes and realize they have great resources in these volunteer firefighters. If there is nothing done about this situation, the outlining communities are to going to be in trouble, with first responders not responding to emergency calls and training.

Doug Roche is a retired volunteer firefighter station captain with 28 years experience. He currently lives in Port Dover, but previously resided in Flamborough.