New Member FAQs
It's no secret that you're going have questions - and sometimes an answer is not immediately available. As always you are encouraged to direct questions to your officers and ask them for help - but to get you started in the right direction here are some common topics.
New Member FAQs
-When can I respond to calls?
After completion of rookie school you will be able to respond to calls.
-How do I know when to come to calls?
During rookie school you will be issued a fire pager and placed into Chief Mobile Messenger Service to alert you to calls. You can also download the Chief Mobile App for your phone which will give you detailed information and street by street directions to incidents.
-What is a “Fire Alarm” or “D-Tone” call and why is it the most important call to respond to?
“Fire Alarm” responses are any calls that elicit the fire sirens to activate such as House Fires, Building Fires, and Motor Vehicle Accidents with subjects trapped. “D-Tone” calls are any calls that require a response from the Volunteer Fire Company such as any calls in Box Areas 5 & 6, Street Alarms (reduced fire responses), and Cardiac Arrest/Medic Assists. Both types of calls activate your pager when it is placed in position “D” (position “4” for Unication Pagers). No other calls will activate the pager in this setting. It is important to respond to these as they are often the most critical incidents our department handles.
-What is a “Silent Alarm”?
Silent Alarms are calls such as fire alarm system (smoke alarm or sprinkler) activations, minor motor vehicle accidents, dumpster or trash fires, car fires, brush fires, and many others that typically only require a single engine response. These are typically handled by the duty crew or on duty fire-ems personnel but you are still encouraged to respond to them when available.
-What is a “Public Service Call”?
Public Service Calls are calls such as lock-outs, stalled elevators without medical emergency, and washdowns. These calls are non-emergency in nature but require a response with technical knowledge. These are typically handled by the duty crew or on duty fire-ems personnel but you are still encouraged to respond to them when available.
-Where do I go when I’m responding to a call?
It is preferred that you go to the closest firehouse then respond to calls as a part of a crew. If you are unable to get to the firehouse before the apparatus leaves or if you are closer to the call than the firehouse you can respond directly to the scene in your personally owned vehicle. YOU MUST OBEY ALL TRAFFIC LAWS WHEN RESPONDING.
-When I respond to the scene – what is the first thing I should do?
Report directly to the command post with gear and PASS tag in hand and tell the incident commander you have responded in your POV. Command will assign you to a crew from there. ANYONE WHO COMES TO A SCENE POV AND DOESN’T CHECK IN WITH COMMAND IS SUBJECT TO IMMEDIATE DISCIPLINE. IT IS A MATTER OF ACCOUNTABILITY – DON’T LOSE THE PRIVLEDGE!
-What are “box areas” and where are they?
To answer this, refer to your rookie school assignment or see the “Box Areas” section of fire company website – click here.
-How does the apparatus numbering system work? Why is there a 3-digit number assigned to the apparatus?
Apparatus are numbered station by station (ex. Engine 1 is from Headquarters, Engine 3 is from Station 3). The 3-digit number (generally located on the bottom corner of the cab) is referred to as the "shop" number and is assigned for tracking purposes for tools and maintenance.
- What is the “point system” and how does it work?
-How do I maintain my minimum amount of points for the year?
Attendance in fire calls, duty crews, meetings, drills, board meetings, training classes, and time spent “standing by” in station are just a few ways to accumulate points.
-How does the fire company keep record/track of my points?
The company maintains a tally which is posted in headquarters across from the lounge each month for you to monitor your progress.
-How do I sign in for calls, standby time, and submit my training (or other activity) for points?
There is an electronic kiosk at each firehouse to sign in to for calls, duty crews, and standby time. To submit for credit for a training class, drill, or collateral duty there are paper sheets located in the control room at headquarters. When you are done filling out a sheet, place it in the upright wooden mailbox sitting on the counter next to the base radio. There should be copies of the same sheets and a wooden upright mailbox in the main office of each station however if they are not available please submit ASAP at headquarters.
Paper Sheets are also located on the OCVFC.com Points System page - click here. Obtain the password for the sheets in the Headquarters control room.
-Can I stay at the fire house over-night?
Yes! You can sleep in whenever you want. Typically, this is done at HQ, St. 4, or St. 5 due to facility space. Don’t forget to sign into the mark-up system to have your hours tracked for credit when you do this or to fill out a Collateral Duties Mark-Up Sheet.
-When do duty crews occur?
Assigned duty crews occur from the Friday of Labor Day weekend and the end of Memorial Day weekend. Duty crew is from 7pm to 7am the next morning. There are also "shoulder season" duty crews that occur during the off-season and will be announced either by your company officer or a chief. At times throughout the year there will be "storm standby" duty crews for major weather events - these will be announced on a short notice/as-needed basis.
-How do I know which duty crew nights to attend?
You will be assigned to a platoon after completion of rookie school and that platoon is used to determine your assigned duty crew nights. You need to attend at least 10 of these per summer season.
-Can I come to any duty crew?
Yes, while it is encouraged that you attend your platoon’s assigned nights – you can come to any nights that fit your schedule as it is understood with some work schedules you will need to do alternative nights.
-Can I sign up for duty crews in advance?
Normally this is taken care of by the platoon officers (Captains and Lieutenants) in advance for your platoon. You can contact the platoon officer or duty crew officer that night to ask them to sign up so that they know you will attend in advance. To know who the duty crew officer is – you can refer to the schedule in the Chief Mobile App on your phone.
-Can I just "show up" for a duty crew?
Yes, however, understand that you may not get a riding position as they may already be filled with those who have signed up previously. As in all cases - you MUST report to the duty crew officer when you arrive for an assignment.
-Can I attend day time duty crews?
During the duty crew season Saturdays during the day will have duty crews that you can attend. Usually you can sign up these in advance as they are not assigned to specific crews.
-Are there any assigned off-season duty crews?
Yes. These usually occur surrounding special events such as Crusin’ Car show weekend and Sunfest/Springfest.
-Can a group of members do an off-season (unofficial) duty crew?
Yes – at any time and this is encouraged. However, when submitting for points – submit off season duty crews as “collateral duty” using a collateral duty sheet located in the headquarters control room.
-Do I need to bring food to assigned duty crews?
No. During assigned duty crews - dinner is provided either from crews buying groceries and cooking for themselves or from a number of local establishments. Outdoor Grill and Kitchen facilities are provided. During the off season (during an unofficial duty crew with a full crew of 3 or more) you can have the duty chief purchase food for your crew or submit a receipt to the treasurer for reimbursement. Receipts should be left in the treasurer’s mailbox with a completed duty crew food slip.
-Do I need to bring my own bedding to Duty Crews? Change of Clothes?
Yes. In order to sleep in the bunkroom you must bring your own bedding. It is recommended that you buy a set of "twin" sized sheets and blankets (and a duffle to keep them in) as that is the size of bed you will be provided. It is also recommended that you bring some shower supplies, a towel, and change of clothes in case of a significant fire incident where you need to clean afterwards. You don't want to lay back in bed with a head full of soot or ash after a fire. Uniforms sometimes get blood or bodily fluids on them and you'll need to decontaminate and wash your soiled set.
-What are platoons?
Platoons are groups in which the fire company assigns its members so that they are able to keep track of their officers, duty crews, and other responsibilities. Each platoon has a Captain and 2-3 Lieutenants to oversee crew members.
-Who do I turn to if I have questions?
Your platoon’s Captains and Lieutenants are there to answer your questions and help you along the way. Any officer can do this as well if you aren’t able to immediately ask your assigned officers. The assistant fire chiefs are also there to answer any questions and help you through issues. You may also be turned towards senior members who were prior officers or have extensive knowledge of operations or a specific topic.
-Where do I attend courses such as Firefighter I? How do I sign up for MFRI courses?
The Maryland Fire and Rescue Institute is the state’s fire training school. You may find yourself attending courses at their regional training center in Princess Anne or at a host company (another fire company in the region). This will be determined by the information provided by MFRI when signing up for the course. To sign up for MFRI courses, go to www.mfri.org. OCVFC is located in the “Lower Eastern Shore” region – but you may take courses in any region if you’d like. Click Here to see the OCVFC Training Page
-When (times and days) do MFRI courses typically take place?
MFRI courses are usually held at nights from 7p-10p. Classes usually have a single night rotation, two-night M/W or Tu/Th rotation, and/or occasional weekend days from 8a-3p in order to shorten the course duration. Some courses (courses typically 24 hours or less) meet exclusively on weekends.
-What are the minimum MFRI courses needed to remain a member of the OCVFC?
Firefighter I (Haz-Mat Awareness and American Heart Association CPR/AED are also required but provided in house)
-Why should I take more MFRI courses?
There are many reasons, just to name a few:
- It enables you to do more such as being an apparatus driver, crew leader, or officer
- It gives you enhanced knowledge such as the knowledge to able to operate new tools such as the "jaws of life"
- You can “climb” the rank structure of the department from position to position
- You can earn college credits through certain educational establishments
- You will meet members from neighboring departments or departments all over the state
- Can I use a utility vehicle to commute back and forth to training classes?
Yes, however, you must first get permission from an assistant (duty) chief and sign out the assigned vehicle on the calendar outside of the Volunteer Chief's Office at Headquarters. Utility vehicles are assigned on a "first come, first serve" basis and preference is also given to classes with multiple members in attendance/car pooling. Members must be 18 years of age or older with a valid driver's license with clean driving record to drive department vehicles.
-When can I drive department vehicles in "emergency" (lights and sirens) mode?
You must complete an Emergency Vehicle Operator course and be "cleared" by a department driving instructor. There are different requirements for each class of vehicle which are defined by department SOPs.
-Will the department assist me in upgrading my class of driver's license to be able to drive engines, towers, and rescues?
Yes. With permisson and pre-planning you will be able to take department apparatus to MVA to take your driving test when accompanied by a licensed/cleared driver. It is recommended that you use an engine company and heavily inspect the unit for mechanical issues prior to the day of the test. The department will reimburse you the cost of the license when you become a cleared apparatus driver.
-How do I get "PASS" or "PAT" Tags?
Fill out the form under the "downloads" section of this page (form fillable) and turn it into the business secretary. The tags will be left in the main hallway by the elevator for you to pick up. If you need a paper copy of the PASS Form to fill out by hand you can acquire one in the Headquarters control room.
-How/when do I acquire duty crew uniforms?
After completion of Rookie School you will be sent to the gear/uniform coordinatior who will provide you with all needed minimum items. If an item becomes worn or unuseable it will be replaced on a one-for-one exchange basis.
-How do I operate the mobile/portable radios? How do I change channels or move back and forth between the city and county radio system?
Coming soon - How to video.