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  1. #1
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    Default Fire department members not pulling their weight

    I am a member of of volunteer department with 21 members, a problem we are continuing to work on is getting all members involved in department activities such as cleaning/work days. Our department is divided into three cleaning crews with a officer in charge of the group. Each group is responsible for cleaning and station maintenance four months out of the year. We have looked into some options for penalizing members who do not attend these cleanings but I am looking for outside input. I would appreciate all suggestions.


  2. #2
    MembersZone Subscriber ffmedcbk1's Avatar
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    question #1: are you an officer? if so, then there is alot that you can do.
    part 2 of q #1: are you a fellow blue shirt of the guys not pulling their weight? then there still is alot you can do.

    in both scenarios there is plenty that can be done. first is TELL THEM THEY ARE NOT PULLING THEIR WEIGHT. they can't begin to change unless they know they are an issue and that others are needing them to correct their action. now if you are the officer, if you don't nip it in the butt, shame on you. as a fellow blue shirt, you address them in an one on one peer level discussion, if that does help get the rest of the crew to address that person together. if that doesn't fly then take it to the lt/capt of the platoon/shift.

    this is all to be done with respect, not cutting them down but constructively. you want them to "want to help" not just feeling obligated to help. (attracting flies with honey, not vinegar anology)

    q#2 is there something the department has in the disciplinary code that addresses this? if man to man fails, then you'll have to go there and follow it (i still do the man to man talks first)
    Originally Posted by madden01
    "and everyone is encouraged to use Plain, Spelled Out English. I thought this was covered in NIMS training."

  3. #3
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    If you have identified the problem member, then get your crew together and put it to that member to decide the times to work. If he sets the time himself, he should have an incentive to show up. Make sure you contact him to confirm the time selected on the day before. Using the excuse of forgetting is pretty lame if he got a notice the day before.

    Truthfully organized cleaning crews can be a bit hard to maintain. It often breaks down to a couple of dedicated members doing the majority of the cleaning work most of the time.

    Think about installing a jr firefighter program. They can come in real handy.

  4. #4
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    I use community service people and have pretty good luck.My firehall stays clean and mowed and the guys don't have to do much.As far as guys not pullin thier weight....that's everywhere.It is getting harder and harder to find good dedicated volunteers.They are still out there though.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by jdostal View Post
    I am a member of of volunteer department with 21 members, a problem we are continuing to work on is getting all members involved in department activities such as cleaning/work days. Our department is divided into three cleaning crews with a officer in charge of the group. Each group is responsible for cleaning and station maintenance four months out of the year. We have looked into some options for penalizing members who do not attend these cleanings but I am looking for outside input. I would appreciate all suggestions.
    I won't make excuses but ask yourself this - do your volunteers pull there weight on calls? Then ask yourself this - do you want to lose them over this? There may be other options for helping to keep the hall clean.

  6. #6
    MembersZone Subscriber BULL321's Avatar
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    You know what they say, 10% of the guys do 90% of the work. 10% do 90% of all the bitching. Just make sure you are in the right %. Welcome to the VFD service.

    Stay Safe
    Bull
    Stay Safe
    Bull


    “Guys if you get hurt, we’ll help you. If you get sick we’ll treat you. If you want to bitch and moan, then all I can tell you is to flick the sand out of your slit, suck it up or get the hell out!”
    - Capt. Marc Cox CFD

    Nothing in life is so exhilarating as to be shot at without result.
    -WINSTON CHURCHILL
    http://sylvafiredeptnc.tripod.com

  7. #7
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    Default

    Good advice already given. Also keep in mind that there is more to the department than cleaning duty. These people may be pulling their weight in other areas. Everybody has strengths and weaknesses, and their contributions may be different than yours.

  8. #8
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    Thumbs up

    Quote Originally Posted by BULL321 View Post
    You know what they say, 10% of the guys do 90% of the work. 10% do 90% of all the bitching. Just make sure you are in the right %. Welcome to the VFD service.

    Stay Safe
    Bull
    LOL.... AMEN TO THAT!!!

  9. #9
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    You will find that the volunteer fie departments can, and hopefully is a great thing. I have been in the volley service for 14 years, starting out as junior at 16 and am now the Asst. Chief. You will find that men and women start out thinking they are going to get to jump on the shinny big red truck and go screaming up and down the streets with the lights and sirens on going to calls, looking cool. They get this misconception from seeing the department in action on a limited basis. They don't see all the hours spent training, cleaning the station, cleaning the trucks, training, fund raising, paper work galore and did I mention training???

    It is a rewarding field though. I often wonder what the country would do without the volunteer fire service. People often discredit the vollies, but I have had several paid firefighters from different department and from different states say that we were better trained than there department's staff.

    As for the guys who don't wish to pull their weight, you will have that. It is just the nature of the beast. But you can add incentives to help out. How about the group or persons who put in the hours cleaning / station maintenance gets a coat, t-shirt, sweat shirt, etc. I know these things cost some money, but you have to keep the interest up when these other none interesting task need done. Some gals and guys will just be there, no matter what. I have guys like this. You could call them at 3:00 AM and say meet me at the station, I need your help, and they will be there. Then there are others that you would have a hard time getting them to the station if their own house was on fire.

    This is also where SOP's / SOG's, Rules & Regs come in handy to. We have had to dismiss a couple members for lack of participation also. You never want to do this due to limited membership, but sometimes it is required. This is one of the hard duties as being in the officer / management role. It also shows the general membership that yes this is a volunteer service but we have responsibilities to the communities we serve.

    I always tell our guys take pride in your station and equipment. It cost lots of money and time for use to be where we're at. Let’s show the community that were take pride in it and that we appreciate their continued support.

    Take care,

    Silverado

  10. #10
    MembersZone Subscriber BULL321's Avatar
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    Have you ever noticed that the people who are the hardest to find when there is work to do are always the first to bitch about something being dirty, or something being broken. The only times they seem to show up is when there is free food, and when its time to vote on officers, new equipment and new membership. Or to tell you how they would have done it if they had been there. If nothing else they make good conversation pieces. Never a dull moment!

    Stay Safe

    Bull
    Stay Safe
    Bull


    “Guys if you get hurt, we’ll help you. If you get sick we’ll treat you. If you want to bitch and moan, then all I can tell you is to flick the sand out of your slit, suck it up or get the hell out!”
    - Capt. Marc Cox CFD

    Nothing in life is so exhilarating as to be shot at without result.
    -WINSTON CHURCHILL
    http://sylvafiredeptnc.tripod.com

  11. #11
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    Man you hit the Nail on the Head there Bull!!! We have a couple like that. One member in particular that will drive by the station when we are cleaning trucks, station, etc, but never stop to help. But come meeting night, there are the first to complain that the station needs cleaned better, or the trucks are dirty. But we both know that there will be members like this no matter where you go.

    This is my 2nd fire dept that I have belonged to. I left my original dept due to job security with my day to day profession. After the chief left at my original dept, which he spent 30 + years at, that place fell apart. There was and still is so much bitchen and bickering going there it is not funny. I started to see this at my current dept and we have had some members leave over the pro-active changes that have taken place over the last 2 years, and we are starting to get new members in and things are going much better.

    It is not easy trying to keep everything running like a well oiled machine. I due take great pride in our dept and try to instill that in our members.

    ~Silverado

  12. #12
    Forum Member JayDudley's Avatar
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    Default Work Party

    We had a nickname for those who showed up after the work was done. Their nickname was "BLISTER". It always shows up after the work is done.
    Respectfully,
    Jay Dudley
    Retired Fire
    Background Investigator
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    Lifetime Member CSFA
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  13. #13
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    For my $0.02....
    Make sure you have all your facts before you pick on someone about participation.
    I agree with most of the comments above, especially the 10/90 90/10 observation... but keep in mind that a lot goes on behind the scenes as well!

    We have volunteers that spend dozens of hours a month working outside the limelight, making sure that all the bills are paid, making sure that training is scheduled, classes are paid for, and then making sure that people attend, even having to lead them by the nose to get them there....
    We have volunteers that spend many hours working on fundraising drives, researching and applying for grants, planning the budgets, as well as pulling all the data together for, and filing local, state and federal paperwork for everything from tax exemption, to insurance, to State Fire Marshal, to NFIRS and ISO.
    We have volunteers that always make sure that vehicle maintenance is done and up to date, that equipment from Hurst tools to SCBA's are inspected, PM'd and tested when needed.
    So to those who show up to ride a well equipped, shiny engine, and enjoy the fact that the lights and water are on in the firestation, and that somehow we are able to afford to pay our bills, and that they can just show up to training and get their certificates...
    ... I say don't think that just because you take the trash out, or paint something when you are told to, don't assume that you are pulling your weight, or that someone else isn't...

  14. #14
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    Default Vols

    Keep in mind that not all vol members can put in unlimited amounts of time. The Global Financial Crisis, employers, Climate change and family commitments are all having an impact.
    Downunder it has become the norm that for several months during summer families and employers do not see their vol member firefighters very often.
    It is important that vol members are given time to breathe and chill out.

    A problem downunder is the brigade elects the most enthusiastic members as officers. Not long after they expect the same level of commitment from all members. Many of those other members are not able give that level as they have other responsibilities and leave the service.

    There are minimum requirements by members to achieve in training and accreditation and these must be met. Since Black Saturday the CFA has had 1400 new vols and 900 resignations. ( http://abc.gov.au/news/stories/2009/07/21/2631764.htm ) This is not a healthy outcome as the 1400 newbys will end up being less than the 900 that have left the service.l

    We need to remember we are there to provide voluntary service to the community.
    Last edited by wombat; 09-15-2009 at 06:32 AM.
    Disclaimer
    These views are my own and not of either my brigade or any other organisation.

  15. #15
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    Andy and Wombat have hit upon my pet peeves. As a volunteer, I will meet the minimum requirements and exceed them wherever I can. I have had times where I was top runner, line officer and on the Board of Directors, but people still complained that I didn't do enough. In my opinion, that type of attitude drives away a lot of volunteers.

    Set a minimum participation standard and stick to it, but you also need to be appreciative of people who can and do put in the extra effort. A simple thank you for showing up, or ordering lunch for people who show up for a work detail is all it takes, nothing expensive.

    Those not meeting the minimum standard need to have somebody speak with them and find out why they are not meeting requirements and action taken as necessary.

  16. #16
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    If you are an officer or person in authority then little things can be done.

    Is there an app that noone likes to be on? Put them on that one. But make it clear that people who show up to do the cleaning or what not are the ones that will get the ?good seats"

    On a call there more people than needed showing up for a call? If so make the person that does not show up for cleaning and what not man the station.

    On drill nights are there tasks that no one likes such as rolling hose? If so have them no doers roll the hose.

    Do your guys like to take engines to parades? Don't let the no doers take the engines to parades.

    But during all of this make it clear that showing up for calls is only a part of duties of a firefighter.

    Also in the back of your mind, remember it is VOLUNTEER. They do not have to do anything they do not want to do but you do not have to let them do anything they have not worked for.

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