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    Default Expectations of Volunteers

    Is it reasonable to expect volunteer fire department members, especially those with families, to show up for a drill on a Saturday evening, starting at 6:00 p.m. in the summer? I like to drill as much as anybody else, but on Saturday night?

    What do you say to an officer if they lash out at you for not showing for the Saturday night special? Good-bye?

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    Is it reasonable to expect volunteer fire department members, especially those with families, to show up for a drill on a Saturday evening, starting at 6:00 p.m. in the summer? I like to drill as much as anybody else, but on Saturday night?
    When you can convienently schedule your fires on days other than Saturday evenings at 6:00 PM, then you can say no.

    What do you say to an officer if they lash out at you for not showing for the Saturday night special? Good-bye?
    That's up to you,, do you want to be a known as a member who gets the job doer or a member who is there for the glory and the t-shirt?
    ‎"The education of a firefighter and the continued education of a firefighter is what makes "real" firefighters. Continuous skill development is the core of progressive firefighting. We learn by doing and doing it again and again, both on the training ground and the fireground."
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    Gonzo, a fire call is one thing, but a drill that could be SCHEDULED on any other day of the week? It would be one thing if the drill could not be scheduled on another day because the instructor was only available or in the area for that particular day or for some other reason, but to pick Saturday night?

    Getting the job done is one thing, but infringing on VOLUNTEERS' free time is another. I have enough t-shirts. I guess you know where I stand on this, and I'm glad to hear other perspectives.

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    Over the years, we've polled our members to see what days and times are good for them to hold drills. Based on that, we always try to schedule them on Tuesday or Thursday nights, or Sundays after 0900. Saturday drills for us are unusual (twice a year maybe), but they still get good response since the members know that a Saturday drill was scheduled for that time as a last resort.

    If your officers are willing to listen, get more of the members who would generally show up to drill (if it wasn't on Saturday night) to approach them and offer alternatives. Remember, you can identify a problem as long as you bring a solution along with it.
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    Solutions have been offered, but have been ignored. Officers are not willing to listen. It has been suggested several times to pick one weekday during the month that is convenient for the "regulars" to show up and drill. No response.

    The Saturday drill sprung up out of nowhere, with one week advance notice. With two weekends left in the summer, nobody should be disappointed if turnout is low, and nobody should get reamed out for not showing.

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    If you are only training one day a month anyhow, that is not enough. You should be training much more than that. I will go out on a limb and guess that you also do not get a ton of calls. So, in order to stay proficient and keep your members interested, you need to train regularly and make it interesting.
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    Quote Originally Posted by jbrescue View Post
    If you are only training one day a month anyhow, that is not enough. You should be training much more than that. I will go out on a limb and guess that you also do not get a ton of calls. So, in order to stay proficient and keep your members interested, you need to train regularly and make it interesting.
    Once a month? Try 2 or 3 times per year. Not many actual fire calls either. You are preaching to the choir on the need for more training. That was the problem with the attitude of one of the officers. One drill in the last 6 months, it is scheduled on a Saturday, and the officer is ****ed that only a few people showed up.

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    Wow I think once a week isn't enough. Although Saturday evenings in the summer is not what I would consider a good time for a drill.

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    Perhaps you can volunteer to conduct some training on a day that would be more suitable. You should be training at least twice a month.

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    Default Ouch

    It is in my opnion that after 12:00 hrs Saturday and Sunday should be off limits for training. With that said our department offers on average 9 drill periods a month. Mondays, Thursdays and 2 Saturdays.

    2-3 times a year is not enough
    "Never share a foxhole with anyone braver than yourself."

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    Quote Originally Posted by JD1234 View Post
    Is it reasonable to expect volunteer fire department members, especially those with families, to show up for a drill on a Saturday evening, starting at 6:00 p.m. in the summer? I like to drill as much as anybody else, but on Saturday night?

    What do you say to an officer if they lash out at you for not showing for the Saturday night special? Good-bye?
    I hate to say it but Saturday night shouldn't matter. Yes you have other obligations but if you know about the drill more than 24 hours in advance you can rearrange your schedule. Now if it's just thrown at you with no chance to adjust then your officers should have preplanned things a little better
    To err is human, To forgive divine and at times I am as much of both as you will ever find

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    For those departments that train twice or more per month, what types of drills do you have? I figure there are about 10-12 basic skills that can be used for topic drills, but where do you come up with the other 10-12 drills. I have advocated that doing evolutions of laying in, working from the tank, switching from tank to pump and initial attack line deployment and getting water to the attack line could be done at least once per month, but many members complain that it is too much work, even if we lay 1 length of supply line.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JD1234 View Post
    For those departments that train twice or more per month, what types of drills do you have? I figure there are about 10-12 basic skills that can be used for topic drills, but where do you come up with the other 10-12 drills. I have advocated that doing evolutions of laying in, working from the tank, switching from tank to pump and initial attack line deployment and getting water to the attack line could be done at least once per month, but many members complain that it is too much work, even if we lay 1 length of supply line.
    Seems like its not as much as a training issue as it is a motivation issue. Sounds like a bunch of guys that are in it for the tshirt and not the actual protection of the community. We conduct drills such as .... search and rescue, doff and don, rit revolutions, water shuttle, extrication, ICS, NIMS, hose evolutions and the list goes on and on. You can never train too much.

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    My gripe wouldn't have been the fact that the drill was Saturday afternoon/evening, but that there wasn't more than a weeks notice. Having 1 drill on a Saturday evening is not unreasonable. If they were held every Saturday evening, that might be an issue. In general, you signed up to be a volunteer and that means keeping yourself current with training. That training might occasionally be scheduled at an inconvenient time. If having every Saturday evening free is that important, then a decision has to be made.

    My department has regular drills twice a month, on Thursday evening. In addition to that, we have special drills on occasional weekends and impromptu drills as part of our required evening duty. The weekend drills are usually publicized well in advance and give you time to plan.

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    A pox on both your houses. Everyone on your department is wrong.

    You officers for scheduling a training that could have been scheduled any time on a summer weekend afternoon.

    An you, for trying to get out of it, when by your own admission you train only 2-3 times a year.

    Saturday afternoon trainings should be avoided, but 2-3 times a year isn't excessive.

    Go to this training, and then make sure they officers hear that the membership wants another training time.

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    My pride disagrees with what you said, but my conscience agrees to a degree. The training was scheduled by our neighboring department one week in advance of the date, and our department was invited. The topic was water rescue, which is fine, and we were told to wear a bathing suit and bring a towel. I'm about as useful as a concrete block in the water, and due to family obligations and that I had been to 2 training sessions (one was for another department I belong to and the other was not a drill--it was training on our new SCBAs) earlier in the week, I didn't think it was a big deal to miss it. At least that's the way I think it should be looked at. But considering the ugly response from one of the officers, you would think we should be hung and quartered for missing the drill. As noted above, been trying to propose a regularly scheduled drill once per month to no avail.


    Quote Originally Posted by NewHampshireFF View Post
    A pox on both your houses. Everyone on your department is wrong.

    You officers for scheduling a training that could have been scheduled any time on a summer weekend afternoon.

    An you, for trying to get out of it, when by your own admission you train only 2-3 times a year.

    Saturday afternoon trainings should be avoided, but 2-3 times a year isn't excessive.

    Go to this training, and then make sure they officers hear that the membership wants another training time.

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    Quote Originally Posted by NewHampshireFF View Post
    A pox on both your houses. Everyone on your department is wrong.

    You officers for scheduling a training that could have been scheduled any time on a summer weekend afternoon.

    An you, for trying to get out of it, when by your own admission you train only 2-3 times a year.

    Saturday afternoon trainings should be avoided, but 2-3 times a year isn't excessive.

    Go to this training, and then make sure they officers hear that the membership wants another training time.

    I guess each department has to do what works best for it; my department usually has at least one training session per week, sometimes there may be more. Additionally they try to schedule drills and other training sessions during off hours for those who work outside normal business hours or who do shift work.

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    Training to me is a very complicated issue. On one hand, member need all the training they can get and should take advantage of what's offered. The other is more practical. There is only so much time available to everyone. What would you say to the guy who has to work or watch the kids or ???.

    Our department has fixed nights each month to train and meet (1 night EMS 1 night Fire). We also have a standing policy to make up training missed. That way, there is never an excuse for not having your training hours in. We also do extra training every now and again for helicopter operations, vehicle extrication etc. Those are a one day item for whoever can make it.

    I personally don't see it as reasonable to hold training 1 night and unconditionally expect everyone to be there.

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    So, we went from short notice of a Saturday drill to a neighboring department having the drill and being nice enough to invite your department.


    and you are upset about something that was out of your departments' control?



    Remember....the last time you "volunteered" was when you volunteered to join the department and follow their rules.
    "This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?

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    Quote Originally Posted by JD1234 View Post
    For those departments that train twice or more per month, what types of drills do you have? I figure there are about 10-12 basic skills that can be used for topic drills, but where do you come up with the other 10-12 drills. I have advocated that doing evolutions of laying in, working from the tank, switching from tank to pump and initial attack line deployment and getting water to the attack line could be done at least once per month, but many members complain that it is too much work, even if we lay 1 length of supply line.
    Our department has training meetings every Tuesday night.

    Just some examples of discussion topics and drills we've used in the past couple of months:

    EMS
    -medical awareness discussion of heat related illnesses (heat stroke, heat exhaustion;appropriate for summer months)
    -patient packaging training
    -helicopter LZ training
    Fire and Rescue
    -drafting drill using our brush truck and a nearby lake
    -drafting drill using the engine and a drop tank
    -rope rescue drill simulating an injured person on a roof
    -storm preparation awareness (downed power line safety, proper chainsaw use, flooding risks and awareness)

    These are just a few simple examples of things often overlooked that may provide for a helpful training session. Be creative and make it interesting. Not every session has to include yanking all the hose off the truck. A simple involved discussion of certain scenarios can keep members on their toes and ready for real life situations you may face.

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    Bones, I like the contributions you make to this board. Maybe I did not adequately explain the situation at first I wasn't upset at them having the drill on a Saturday night. That's their choice. But for our department to expect a large turnout to a drill being run by our neighboring department on a Saturday night is a bit too much. Have the drill. But don't give those that did not show up a hard time for not being there. As others have noted, people have lives outside of the fire department. Also, as others have noted, and I agree, if a drill has to be schedule on a weekend day because it is all day or 2-day drill, that is fine, and if that is done, as much notice as possible is helpful so that members can put it on their schedule.


    Quote Originally Posted by Bones42 View Post
    So, we went from short notice of a Saturday drill to a neighboring department having the drill and being nice enough to invite your department.


    and you are upset about something that was out of your departments' control?



    Remember....the last time you "volunteered" was when you volunteered to join the department and follow their rules.

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    Default Hey Bones!

    Quote Originally Posted by Bones42 View Post
    So, we went from short notice of a Saturday drill to a neighboring department having the drill and being nice enough to invite your department.


    and you are upset about something that was out of your departments' control?



    Remember....the last time you "volunteered" was when you volunteered to join the department and follow their rules.
    Hey Bones,
    As a volunteer you are required to show up for regularly scheduled meetings!However, if one may happens to arise a week ahead of schedule it is not always sufficient time to change plans. The FF might have had a family weeding or might have had out of town business but may have also had to work. I don't know about you but when it comes to family or work things may not always be able to change like you think they should. Yes, it was out of the departments control of the scheduling but the FF should have told his superior officers and they should have excused him. If they where still yelling at him then they where out of line. The only ones that deserved a lashing would have been those that did not show up and did not speak to an officer to be excused what ever their reasons where.Those that did not get excued are the ones who are there for the tshirt and glory. It's one thing to put your family first when scheduling conflicts arise but to just not show up that is the "real issue"!

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    The priorities for a volunteer firefighter:
    1. Family
    2. Work
    3. Volunteering

    That is my FRS's official policy. It is clearly stated to any prospective member. Also clearly stated is the level on commitment we require of them. A weeks' notice of a training event could for many reasons not be enough for some members - and their failure to attend would not be questioned. We were paged yesterday about a special training session for next Sunday morning (we train every second Sunday, this isn't one of them). If people can't attend, that's unfortunate, but that's also to be expected.
    "Professional" means your attitude to the job...

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    Quote Originally Posted by volfirie View Post
    The priorities for a volunteer firefighter:
    1. Family
    2. Work
    3. Volunteering

    That is my FRS's official policy. It is clearly stated to any prospective member. Also clearly stated is the level on commitment we require of them. A weeks' notice of a training event could for many reasons not be enough for some members - and their failure to attend would not be questioned. We were paged yesterday about a special training session for next Sunday morning (we train every second Sunday, this isn't one of them). If people can't attend, that's unfortunate, but that's also to be expected.
    I wish that all volunteer FD's had this policy. I also wish more volunteer FF had this attitude. How many times have we seen marriages go to hell because a vol. FF have totally abdicated his responsibility to his family, but never misses a drill night or alarm? We celebrate these people, but the reality is that many of them are not people to be emulated.

    In addition, and it is somewhat related, of all the vol. FF I have locked up (over 30), the majority of them were more upset about losing their position in the FD than they were about facing criminal charges. That is very telling.
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    Just another thought on this............

    Does your department have any "training requirements"? By that I mean, are you required to attend X number of training sessions per year? If not or you're meeting it, then tell them to go bother somebody else.

    It always cracks me up when I hear about someone in a volunteer fire department complaining about another member not doing more than the minimum that's required. In some cases, nothing's actually required.

    It really doesn't matter whether it's about training, calls, meetings, fundraiser, belonging to more than one department or whatever. If a department doesn't set down policy regarding the expected participation level, then they have no reason to complain about (or to) people not participating enough. If a department sets a policy that you must attend 3 training sessions per year, then you really can't complain about (or to) a person who only attends 3 sessions per year.

    If you want them to attend 6 sessions, then tell them 6, don't tell them 3 and complain that they didn't do 6!

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