It's a small voley dept with 2 paid guys ( me and an other guy) that work Monday-friday 7-4 seemed like a great place to get some quality experience in. Now here the catch I moved to the area and appare try I was a few km (under 5km) out of our fire district so I was forced to move closer to the city, for some odd reason from one city to the next my rent almost doubled and I can hardly afford to live now but the dept has been clear on my salary for the next 4 years set at 35k and slowly going up to 39. I was also told I had to become a "active volunteer" which means attending a set percentage of calls but they now say the calls I do during the day do not count for my percentages but they do add to. My overall call volume, I am also expected to attend 75% of the volley training nights on my time Off. In my contract it was wondering quite differently and I was to work A 45hr work week but now I am regularly at the hall 50-60hrs per week and on call 24/7 responding to calls in the middle of the night and then having to Pull through my 9 hr day afterwards only to have the same thing repeat the next Night. For this reason I can't really get a part time job to help me make ends meet.
Is this one of those things that I just have to suck up and endure for the next few years or should I seek some help through various channels possibly talking to a union rep to see if our department could become affiliated. I know being a firefighter is hard but I've yet to see the kind of schedule and requirements for a job that offers so little in terms of advancement. I'm not looking to make a fortune but I did expect to get fairly compensated for the work I put in
- so I was forced to move closer to the city
- had to become a "active volunteer" which means attending a set percentage of calls
- I am also expected to attend 75% of the volley training nights
- I was to work A 45hr work week but now I am regularly at the hall 50-60hrs per week and on call 24/7 responding to calls in the middle of the night and then having to Pull through my 9 hr day afterwards
Coming from a paid on call background, the situation you describe is the cultural norm for a volunteer firefighter!
They have to live within the municipality they volunteer for, they often have to meet minimum fire call and training attendance requirements, they have to attend training in their off time, they have to work their "day" jobs, they have to attend calls in the middle of the night and get up and go to their day job the next day.
The ONLY difference is that instead of an engineer, a retail worker, a sales agent or a welder your "full time" job is also a firefighter.
For most their passion, attitude, and financial reality allow them to do the above and love it. There are places where "volunteers" get paid $1/hour (plus call outs) to standby in the hall on a regular shift. (We often are our own worst enemies.)
Unfortunately, although the municipality has "full time" firefighters you are essentially "day crew" and being managed through the volunteer/POC paradigm.
I am sure most any union may be able to adjust your "contract" and working conditions somewhat, but they will not be able (or likely have the desire) to appreciably change the fire service managerial paradigm or service delivery model at this juncture (union dues of two guys...).
Approach fire management with your financial concerns. Perhaps a scheduled "retained time" could be negotiated where you live in the hall for a set time (overnights) and get to live in the reduced rent area further away at others. Perhaps a relaxed call attendance (not training) requirement could be negotiated to allow for part time work.
Regardless, this is obviously not a traditional "full time" shift firefighter position leading to the sunshine list. My advice is look for opportunities to make it work while also looking for other full time employment opportunities elsewhere.
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