1. #1
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    Default Dedication on volunteer dept.

    I'm from a small rural fire dept. that has around 30 members 15+ above 50 and <10 below 30. We are having some issues with dedication, we have the people but it seems at night there are only 8 of us with our pagers on and any other time our max turnout is about 15 on a saturday afternoon(which is usually plenty but RARE). I am looking for ideas to pass to my AC about recruiting some younger members more interested in helping people than just knowing what's going on around town. I don't expect any miracles since getting volunteers is a big enough challenge in a small town much less ones that care. Please Help!! (yes i know I'm a probie and I hope no one thinks I'm out of line but if I am plz let me know!)
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    Quote Originally Posted by ProbyEMT87 View Post
    I'm from a small rural fire dept. that has around 30 members 15+ above 50 and <10 below 30. We are having some issues with dedication, we have the people but it seems at night there are only 8 of us with our pagers on and any other time our max turnout is about 15 on a saturday afternoon(which is usually plenty but RARE). I am looking for ideas to pass to my AC about recruiting some younger members more interested in helping people than just knowing what's going on around town. I don't expect any miracles since getting volunteers is a big enough challenge in a small town much less ones that care. Please Help!! (yes i know I'm a probie and I hope no one thinks I'm out of line but if I am plz let me know!)
    First thing I'd do is change my Firehouse.com name... you won't be a proby forever.

    Plan a weeklong membership "blitz". Pick a week of local importance. Local festival, memorial day... etc.

    Plan to get out and work the masses. Go to little league games, soccer games, etc.. .talk to the parents about joining. Pass out information flyers.

    Try to meet with other groups of "target" people. Where do people ages 18-30 hang out? Can the local movie theater run an ad (even if it's just a still picture) for you, asking for members?

    Do you have a website? Is it prominently posted on your site how people can join?

    If you don't have a junior program or an explorer program, look into it. It takes a lot of work, but is a pretty good pipeline for us.

    Put one of the engines on the apron with a banner that says, "This Engine Out of Service due to a lack of volunteers". Just be sure to warn the mayor/council whoever about your plan.

    Work with the local papers.

    Concentrate this all into ONE week and be sure to work it in the newspapers.
    I am now a past chief and the views, opinions, and comments are mine and mine alone. I do not speak for any department or in any official capacity. Although, they would be smart to listen to me.

    "The last thing I want to do is hurt you. But it's still on the list."

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    I agree with what everything the good Chief says. Gotta get out and be seen before anyone thinks about you. Out of sight, out of mind.

    You have to make it worth their while, they will come in with a "what's in it for me" type of thinking. Unfortunately, most people will have this. Either some sort of compensation like money somehow or the social aspect of joining the department. Highlight the satisfaction of serving your fellow citizens. Somehow make it attractive to them.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ChiefKN View Post
    First thing I'd do is change my Firehouse.com name... you won't be a proby forever.

    Plan a weeklong membership "blitz". Pick a week of local importance. Local festival, memorial day... etc.

    Plan to get out and work the masses. Go to little league games, soccer games, etc.. .talk to the parents about joining. Pass out information flyers.

    Try to meet with other groups of "target" people. Where do people ages 18-30 hang out? Can the local movie theater run an ad (even if it's just a still picture) for you, asking for members?

    Do you have a website? Is it prominently posted on your site how people can join?

    If you don't have a junior program or an explorer program, look into it. It takes a lot of work, but is a pretty good pipeline for us.

    Put one of the engines on the apron with a banner that says, "This Engine Out of Service due to a lack of volunteers". Just be sure to warn the mayor/council whoever about your plan.

    Work with the local papers.

    Concentrate this all into ONE week and be sure to work it in the newspapers.
    I like it! Thanks!

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    Has anyone in your area ASKED non-members why they don't join? We did - put a couple of people outside a convenience store.

    A lot of the people did not even know we were volunteer, many did not know we needed people. Some were just waiting to be asked.

    The explorer program is a big plus, no matter if you do it inhouse or through the Boy Scouts program.

    And give people responsibility. Make them part of the program.

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    All good advice above.

    We get a lot of our recruits from the vo-tech program that the county schools run. It brings the kids in, they get training during school and generally have free time to spend at the station. We have had good luck with these members.

    As mentioned, make sure that you get out in the community, and make sure that people know you are volunteer. Until I started asking, I saw volunteer on the side of the building, but it didn't really sink in that they were true volunteers providing 24/7 coverage. I had just assumed that it was a combination department because I came from an area with a fully career department.

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    All great advice guys thank you very much. I will for sure try these out!

    Oh the name stays because I feel I will ALWAYS be learning so I'm a probie for life
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    Service, Valor, Honor, Dedication & Modesty

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    First of all, you can't build dedication. An individual has it or doesn't and adding new and younger members doesn't mean that they will all be gung ho dedicated hard chargers. That is simply the nature of the human animal.

    Secondly, when recruiting if someone seems interested talk to them, invite them to the FD, give them an application and try to seriously motivate them to join. If someone is less than interested don't waste your time, if they join they won't be what you want OR they won't be around long.

    Mass recuitment efforts are a good idea, but be careful what you wish for. Sometimes numbers of slackers and wannabes can be worse than running a little shorter on membership numbers.
    Crazy, but that's how it goes
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    Any volunteer department will have this problem. We have the same issues. We recently changed Public Relations Officers, and he has been more active. He puts articles in the paper about what the department has been doing and he puts the occasional picture of a fire in the paper. This helps the public to see that the department isnt just a social group as in the past. Also to help get recruits, the local high school has a career day and we have a booth with showing off some of our equipment, we even let a few studnets bunker and pack out and run around the gym. This is usually credited to getting a couple of new recruits. Good public relations are a first to getting new recruits and then on to letting the public know you need volunteers. Stay avtic in the town and they will come.
    Puttin the wet stuff on the red stuff!

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    And SAFER. Get a safer grant. Lots of money available for college tuition, wage reimbursement for training, and more. Check it out in the grant section here at FH

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    Quote Originally Posted by LVFD301 View Post
    And SAFER. Get a safer grant. Lots of money available for college tuition, wage reimbursement for training, and more. Check it out in the grant section here at FH
    Will definately have my AC look into that!
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    An additional comment to expand on what Fyred said. Be sure to watch your expectations. Not everyone will be able or desire to put in the same amount of time. You will typically have a core group that does most of the work and runs most of the calls. I'm not saying to do away with minimum training and attendance standards, but don't expect everyone to spend the same amount of time.

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    If you're starting a recruiting drive, don't just hand out flyers saying that meetings are on the third Saturday at 7PM. People will put off coming.

    Instead, plan for an open house on a specific date and put that in the advertising. That date gets in their mind and they're more likely to show up.

    The open house should only be about the new folks and no normal stuff should be done. Give a presentation on the department, what is expected of volunteers, etc. along with a tour of the station. Give some demonstrations on getting into gear, using hoses, etc.

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    Quote Originally Posted by FyredUp View Post
    Mass recuitment efforts are a good idea, but be careful what you wish for. Sometimes numbers of slackers and wannabes can be worse than running a little shorter on membership numbers.
    This is true. We got something like 25 applications/interested people. Out of that, 10 came on board, probably 3 are still around 10 years later. However, those three include one of our line officers who also served as past president.

    It was a nice infusion of people.
    I am now a past chief and the views, opinions, and comments are mine and mine alone. I do not speak for any department or in any official capacity. Although, they would be smart to listen to me.

    "The last thing I want to do is hurt you. But it's still on the list."

    "When tempted to fight fire with fire, remember that the Fire Department usually uses water."

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    Quote Originally Posted by ChiefKN View Post
    This is true. We got something like 25 applications/interested people. Out of that, 10 came on board, probably 3 are still around 10 years later. However, those three include one of our line officers who also served as past president.

    It was a nice infusion of people.
    Were in the same boat too Chief. When I came onto my company 7 years ago I went to the academy with with 4 other people. Today I am the only one left out of the class and now a company officer. When I first got on moral wasn't great, the officer staff wasn't doing their jobs and it was more about drinking beer instead of fire fighting. Once some young blood started arriving at the firehouse things started changing.

    Moral is hard to keep in volunteer agency. Politics can kill membership. The one way I have seen the moral of our department improve is by having a chief and officer staff that the rest of the members can be proud of. Our members train constantly and were always making sure that any possible issues are resolved immediately before they get out of hand. We also keep the fire house very family driven. Volunteer fire departments can be very demanding on peoples families so if you keep the family involved and open to the organization they feel they are part of it. I can't tell you how many events and other outside functions members significants others and kids are helping out with and enjoying!
    Stay safe!

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    Quote Originally Posted by ProbyEMT87 View Post
    I'm from a small rural fire dept. that has around 30 members 15+ above 50 and <10 below 30. We are having some issues with dedication, we have the people but it seems at night there are only 8 of us with our pagers on and any other time our max turnout is about 15 on a saturday afternoon(which is usually plenty but RARE).
    We're in the same situation. Even worse, we are a bedroom community with most working age folks leaving town during the day. From what I know this is typical of all smaller volunteer departments. As previously stated you'll have your core group of dedicated volunteers and then you'll have the rest. Hopefully at any given time enough of the rest show up to handle the emergency.

    People have lives. Jobs, families, vacations, personal problems etc. All can prevent one from responding. If I were forced to respond to every call I would have to leave the fire service.

    Not everyone can give the same time or effort. As long as minimum guidelines are met then you should appreciate the volunteers' contribution be it large or small.

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    We have basically the same layout as you. 30 members, 7 officers, most members over 35 and only ten under 30. Were a completely volunteer department that serves just over 2,000 people according to the latest census. We cover 26.4 sq. miles.

    We have had alot of dedication issues over the last year. Mostly for EMS runs, as we have only 4 EMT's and a Medic. I passed my EMT class last month, so ill be the 5th basic. Our department only runs around 200 calls a year, but well over half are rescue calls.

    The best thing to do IMO is PR. We went around and campaigned for our newest levy. We also used grant money to purchase CO and Smoke detectors that we are giving to the public free of charge. Actions like this will make people curious, and in turn could lead them to join the Fire Department.

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