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MiFF

Full time callback

8 posts in this topic

With the limited full time staffing in most department's in Westchester and the shortage of vollies I would assume most career or combo department's rely heavily on off duty call backs. I'm just curious how well department's can get members in off duty?

 

Everyone talks about the high housing costs, can full timers afford housing in the cities where they work? Can they afford to live off just their fire job? 

 

Also, how are they alerted to call backs? Are call backs mandatory or voluntary? If mandatory how are they enforced? Are there residency requirements? Are members expected to report within a certain time frame?

 

Thanks for any info.

LayTheLine likes this

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I am not in Westchester County, however, where I am the following is the norm:

 

1) Most departments have minimal on-duty staff. Some have vollies to supplement but not all have vollies.

2) Every department has recalls. Members use either their personal cell phones to receive the request OR have a Minitor pager.

3) There is no requirement to come back for duty. Some members use recall as their 2nd job and come in a lot, others don't come in at all and may have their own business such as plumber or carpenter.

4) Many departments have no residency requirements and they work 24 on/ 24 off / 24 on / 5 days off. This leads to members living 45 minutes away in a different county and they are not even in a position for recall.

5) Most departments have a recall hierarchy. Example: If Group 1 is on-duty, then Group 2 may be the primary recall group. The first request goes to them. If no one calls in within 2 minutes, then Group 3 is the secondary recall group. They get paged out and if no one calls in within 2 minutes, then a recall for all groups is sent out. Usually these requests go out for a certain number of members. Example: 3 needed for station coverage and the first 3 to call in get the coverage.

6) Structure fire calls go to full-department recalls immediately and then it's a "you all come." Anybody and everybody can respond.

7) One disadvantage to the whole system is that there may be 2 or 3 calls for station coverage during the day and people are quick to jump on that. They get their hours in and then they turn off their phone/pager at night. Recalls for manpower after midnight and this includes structure fires will usually get very minimal recall. There was a nursing home fire (contained to one room) at 3 AM and a 2nd Alarm was struck. Only 2 off-duty members came in to help out. This department did not have vollies. Mutual Aid was used almost exclusively.

8) My only complaint is that many of the department members don't want more people hired because that would cut into their recalls. The more people on-duty, the less need for recalls. But then they cherry-pick their calls and you may have 10 off-duty members show up for a 2 pm fire and only 2 members show up to a 2 am fire. Unfortunately it's all about them and their bottom line. There seems to be less and less commitment to coming in when "the poop is hitting the fan." As for me, if a 2nd Alarm is struck, I feel a moral obligation to get up and respond no matter what time of day or night. It's the system that's been set up and some effort should be given in responding "for the good of the community." They seem to want it both ways, "If it's convenient for me and I'm short on funds I'll go. If it's not convenient then I won't go." In my area it's only a matter of time before the public becomes dissatisfied with the response to some pretty serious calls and manpower per shift will have to be increased. 

9) Departments in my area are staffed with anywhere from 3 on-duty to 12-on duty. The smaller departments will recall 3 for coverage once units are committed (car fire, MVA, etc.). The larger departments won't recall until available manpower falls below a certain number, 6 as an example.

10) Vollies only used for full-department recalls, not for station coverage and not to fill open shifts. 

AFS1970, Capejake72 and vodoly like this

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My department in Michigan is kind of similar. 7 full-time total, 2 per shift with a swing to cover vacations/sick time. 20 paid on call. Recall is when all call page is transmitted. Residency requirements for full time is within 20 miles of city limits. Three live outside the city. One comes back in for about every all call fire. One does every once in a while. Last one never does. We really only have three that will come back regularly. The kicker is they're the only ones who can drive trucks. They don't come back only two trucks get out. And they're the ones preventing on calls from being able to drive.

 

It bugs me when guys join department's that do rely on call backs for stuff but never respond for them. You knew when you joined there would be call backs. No one forced you to take the job.

LayTheLine and AFS1970 like this

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Our dept. has 3 shifts of 6 and a very small "call division" of 8-10. Recalls occur fairly often about an average of 30 times a month but we can go days with none and have 6 another day.  These used to be by platoon a few decades ago when our call division was much larger, but now they are "all come" recalls. I track call payroll and FT recall attendance and on average we get 2.2 FT personnel per recall. We are paid a min. of 2 hrs OT for all recalls 0600-2300 and 3 hrs OT from 2300-0600 or anytime on holidays. Sadly only 3 of our career personnel live inside the city limits, so it does affect turnout and the speed at which the station is covered.  None of our call division personnel are EMS licensed, so that makes recalls a bit more difficult, as of course this is 75% of our work. Most are fully certified FF2 and driver operated certified annually, but alas, the call force is dwindling to the core group and there is very little outside interest to join.

 

I know that over the years recall attendance by career staff ebbs and flows. Younger guys tend to have other jobs off-duty, then there are guys with families that have childcare responsibilities during time off, those who get somewhat burned-out tend to not respond to routine recalls. On the plus side, we have one Lt. who lives in town who takes as much OT as possible come to most callbacks, and one or two other personnel who are pretty regular.  With structure fires being down, we get decent turnouts for most first alarms. My own personal situation is that I used to be 'Johnny on the spot" even though I lived about 15 min. away, but  as I've aged, I find getting back to sleep much more difficult and operating with less sleep much harder, thus I pass up more recalls at night than before even though I live closer. 

 

The one thing that seems to motivate career personnel  in our dept. is that your off-duty attendance of training and recalls can be a factor in promotions, as personnel who are "always" there tend to be favored when other things are on par between candidates. With a large percentage of our officers eligible to retire in the next 3 years this likely will result in some making a greater effort.  

Capejake72, boca1day and LayTheLine like this

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Although not in the area asked about, here's what we do.

 

We are a 2 station career FD (down from 4 stations 30+ years ago) with 21 full-time and 12 part-time firefighters split between 4 shifts.  We staff 5 as a minimum and up to 8.  Full-time personnel must live in the City.  Part-time can live anywhere, but must move in once hired full-time.  Most of them live close enough to respond for incident callbacks.

 

Whenever we have a working fire, a 2nd Alarm is struck, which is more of a "working fire upgrade" than a true 2nd Alarm.  It alerts our off-duty personnel along with adding mutual companies for RIT and an additional engine.  Off-duty personnel are notified using a series of notification mediums.  Most personnel are issued Minitor pagers and the primary notification for an incident callback is via the County 911 center.  Each shift has their own "tone" and there is also an "All Call" tone for a full department callback.

 

In addition to that, a text notification is sent out to all member's cell phones when a callback is in progress.  On top of that, most members are utilizing the Active 911 app on their phones.  We get notifications for all incidents, but get additional notifications when a callback is initiated.  So far, the redundancy of this has been working favorably as we've had problems with our County dispatch consistently making the proper notifications.  Sometimes they hit the tones and forget the texts.  Sometimes they've sent the texts, but forgot to hit the tones.  Among other issues.

 

We typically don't do callbacks to fill the stations on most calls.  Occasionally there will be a callback for a limited number of personnel to help with an incident or staff a reserve unit during it if units won't be able to leave for a subsequent call. 

 

If a unit responds to a call outside of the city and will be committed to that incident, then we will do a callback by shift using the same notification process described above until we reach minimum staffing.  We also provide river rescue services in our area.  So, anytime the boat leaves the dock, a callback by shift occurs to re-staff the on-duty units up to minimum staffing levels.

 

Response to callbacks is not mandatory and there is no official "time requirement" on them, but personnel know that they are expected to arrive within a reasonable amount of time.  So, guys outside of the immediate area (either by residence or physical location at the time), don't typically call in for the non-All Call situations if they can't be there within about 10-15 minutes.

 

 

LayTheLine likes this

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FireMedic049 - Question for you:

 

I'm guessing that with 21 FT personnel, that there are 4 groups of 5 and the chief. The PT personnel are assigned to one of 4 groups which would be 3 PT per group. So if the FT staff is on-duty that would give you a minimum of 5 and if 3 PT staff are on-duty that would bring you up to 8. Of course it could vary anywhere between 5 and 8. Am I correct? 

 

Also, is there a minimum number of FT personnel that must be on-duty? Example: 3 must be FT and 2 can be PT to make up the minimum of 5. 

 

Just  curious how all that works. 

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17 hours ago, LayTheLine said:

FireMedic049 - Question for you:

 

I'm guessing that with 21 FT personnel, that there are 4 groups of 5 and the chief. The PT personnel are assigned to one of 4 groups which would be 3 PT per group. So if the FT staff is on-duty that would give you a minimum of 5 and if 3 PT staff are on-duty that would bring you up to 8. Of course it could vary anywhere between 5 and 8. Am I correct?  

Yes, that is correct.

 

17 hours ago, LayTheLine said:

 

Also, is there a minimum number of FT personnel that must be on-duty? Example: 3 must be FT and 2 can be PT to make up the minimum of 5. 

 

Just  curious how all that works. 

Yes, there is a defacto minimum number of FT personnel on-duty each day.  Our PT personnel are not permitted to function as apparatus drivers or serve as officers.  As such, there must be one FT person serving as the shift OIC (Deputy Chief, Captain or a FF qualified to act) and 2 FT personnel serving as apparatus drivers.  The shift Captain will be one of the drivers as needed, provided they aren't needed to cover the Deputy Chief's position.

 

If the number of FT personnel for the day drops below 3, then off-duty personnel will be called in on OT to cover.  On rare occasion, OT may get called in even if there are 3 FT personnel working.  This only happens if none of the FT working are eligible to act up as the shift OIC, if those working decline the opportunity to act up or if one of the FT personnel has not been cleared to drive yet (someone newly promoted to full-time that hasn't completed driver training).

LayTheLine likes this

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Englewood Fire Dept (career) Does Group Recall When ever There's  working fire or a piece goes Mutual Aid out of town (for that its usually to staff an other aerial & engine)

LayTheLine likes this

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