Combination fire department
A combination fire department is a type of fire department
Fire department
A fire department or fire brigade is a public or private organization that provides fire protection for a certain jurisdiction, which typically is a municipality, county, or fire protection district...

 which consists of both career and volunteer firefighter
Firefighters are rescuers extensively trained primarily to put out hazardous fires that threaten civilian populations and property, to rescue people from car incidents, collapsed and burning buildings and other such situations...

s. In the United States, combination fire departments are typically tax-supported in some fashion, and generally have an annual call volume larger than purely volunteer departments but less than career departments.

Career Staff

The career staff attached to a combination fire department will oversee one or more areas of responsibility:
  1. Administrative Support, such as organizing paperwork, complying with legal and regulatory requirements, and answering phones.
  2. Equipment Maintenance of firefighting apparatus
    Fire apparatus
    A fire apparatus, fire engine, fire truck, or fire appliance is a vehicle designed to assist in fighting fires by transporting firefighters to the scene and providing them with access to the fire, along with water or other equipment...

    , tools, and personal protective equipment
    Personal protective equipment
    Personal protective equipment refers to protective clothing, helmets, goggles, or other garment or equipment designed to protect the wearer's body from injury by blunt impacts, electrical hazards, heat, chemicals, and infection, for job-related occupational safety and health purposes, and in...

  3. Responding to emergencies during their working hours.
  4. Leadership of the department, such as serving as a chief officer
    Fire chief
    Fire Chief is a top executive rank or commanding officer in a fire department, either elected or appointed...


Volunteer Firefighters

Volunteer firefighters associated with a combination department generally respond to the station or directly to an incident, when an emergency call is dispatched. Volunteer firefighters operate in the same range as full time "career" firefighters, responding to fires and in many communities, vehicle accidents, hazardous materials, confined space, water rescue, ice rescue, and other rescue incidents as well as commonly providing first emergency medical response (prior to the arrival of the ambulances.) Most combination departments require their volunteer firefighters to be trained to the same standards as their full time counterparts, and many offer promotions to fire officer positions. Depending on the structure of the combination department, some officers will remain volunteer, and some will become full time fire officers when promoted. Often career firefighters, especially women, will start with a combination department to acquire experience, training, and promotions to fire officer positions.

These days, volunteer firefighters in combination departments are often compensated in one form or another, and those that are paid are referred to as part paid or paid on-call firefighters. True volunteer firefighters are few in number, as it is economically unfeasible for fire personnel to be uncompensated for the amount time required for requisite training and for the costs of responding to dispatched calls (vehicular equipment, vehicle maintenance, and gas.) Part paid refers to the fact that some volunteer firefighters are only partly compensated and their stipend or pay often do not fully cover the costs associated with being a firefighter including lost wages from their primary occupation for response to dispatches and training, as well as the costs of responding to a dispatch. In addition, many volunteer firefighters with combination departments still volunteer or are unpaid for part or all of the time they spend on training, administrative tasks, equipment maintenance, public education, and fund raising and often cover the cost of supplemental training from their own pockets. Since volunteer firefighters spend the majority of their paid time on the job responding to incidents, they are considered more cost effective than full time firefighters in many communities, hence the attraction of combination departments.

Volunteer firefighters carry radios or fire pagers, primarily the Motorola
Motorola, Inc. was an American multinational telecommunications company based in Schaumburg, Illinois, which was eventually divided into two independent public companies, Motorola Mobility and Motorola Solutions on January 4, 2011, after losing $4.3 billion from 2007 to 2009...

 Minitor, to receive dispatch information where ever they are at the time a call is dispatched. Some combination departments use Nextel cell phones as well as alpha pagers with priority service contracts to dispatch information to volunteer firefighters. Depending on the response structure of the combination department, the volunteer may respond to the station to pick up an apparatus, or go directly to the scene of an incident in their personal vehicle with a full time firefighter bringing the needed apparatus and equipment to the incident. Some combination departments also use volunteer firefighters to cover unfilled shifts of the full time firefighters. Most volunteer firefighters live or work in the community they respond to fire dispatches in, and most combination combination departments have a requirement for residency within the community or within a certain distance of the community, in which they serve. Depending on the department, volunteer firefighters may respond 24/7 to any dispatched incidents or be split into response shifts. Response to incidents may be required during shifts, or a periodic run percentage may be required to maintain status on a combination department.

Auxiliary Volunteers

Sometimes departments have additional volunteer staff or auxiliary which are emergency medical responders such as medical first responders or EMTs
Emergency medical technician
Emergency Medical Technician or Ambulance Technician are terms used in some countries to denote a healthcare provider of emergency medical services...

, engineers and pump operators, or K9 rescue teams, performing tasks in line with their training and physical abilities.

Junior Firefighter

Junior firefighters are youths, typically in high school, sometimes junior high school, that learn about local fire and emergency services. They can receive medical training and fire training. Many programs allow them to respond along side firefighters to incidents and allow them to serve usually as exterior firefighters,and assisting in emergency medical services that they are trained and qualified for. On a combination department, they can provide a basis from which volunteers are recruited from and provide additional manpower under certain circumstances.

Work Environment

Volunteer firefighters often outnumber career firefighters in a combination fire departments. This makes for a very complicated work environment, as full-time fire personnel typically are unionized employees under contract and volunteers rarely are. Friction is often caused by preference granted to career firefighters for training opportunities and the resulting expectations, whereas volunteers are often expected to pay for and volunteer time for supplemental training when it is available. Other issues can stem from inequities or resentment caused by bargained for benefits career firefighters receive under contract including training wages, shorter gear rotations, clothing allowances, and overtime pay. Sometimes starting volunteer firefighters are perceived as using their volunteer positions as stepping stones to full time career positions.

ISO Ratings

ISO fire suppression ratings are independent of whether a department is full time, combination, or volunteer.
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