Thread: Volunteers MIA

  1. #1
    Forum Member

    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    NJ
    Posts
    225

    Default Volunteers MIA

    How does your Volunteer Department deal with members whose participation has fallen far below standards or is nonexistent?

    1. Do nothing.
    2. Grumble and moan about it.
    3. Vote/Kick them out and collect their gear/equipment.
    4. Contact them to find out what the problem is.
    5. Outreach/encouragement to get them back in the loop.

    --
    Does your department do any kind of exit interview or obtain any feedback from members who leave?

    Just curious. It amazes me how some departments let good members fall by the wayside and make assumptions when members stop showing up without some kind of outreach.

  2. #2
    Forum Member
    GVFD5's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Posts
    39

    Default

    The last two years we have implemented a better system for handling this situation. In the past members were just left to do what they wanted and the more active guys would get upset, talk bad about that person, and eventually driving them away for good. So what we do now is...

    We have and Executive Board, made up of the Department President, Chief, and 5 members nominated and elected by their peers. The board reviews call attendence, meeting attendance, and more importantly training attendance. (thats not the only job of the Exec. Board but I will stay on topic here) We are required to attend 1/3 of all calls or participate in 10 hours of in house training every 12 months. We are not allowed to have more than two unexcused misses of the regualr monthly meeting.

    If you fall below any of the above standards the Executive Board will bring you in, interview you. Ask you if something is going on and if the department can do anything to help them rectify the problem. Sometimes its an issue at home and we will give the guy sometime to get things ironed out. 9 times out of 10 someone ****ed this person off so they quit participating. At that point we can sit them both down, explain how we are a family and we will settle our differences together! It has worked really well, I have seen two guys in particular (that are VERY good firemen) do a complete 180 after our discussions.

    Well, there ya go (in a nut shell).

    Good Luck

    Stay Safe!

    FD5
    "EVERYONE GOES HOME... ALWAYS"

    "Let no mans ghost come back to say his training let him down."

  3. #3
    MembersZone Subscriber
    tree68's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Location
    Jefferson County, NY USA
    Posts
    2,346

    Default

    Our bylaws state that if you haven't met the minimum attendance requirements (5 meetings, 3 fundraisers, a hose test) to date by November, you get a letter, signed by the chief, warning you that you have five months to do so (the largest minimum the meetings).

    The letter also suggests that if you have questions to show up at a meeting...

    If you don't meet the requirements before the beginning of the membership year (May 1), you're out. We do have life members who do not have to pay dues or meet the requirements, but if they want to hold office or vote at meetings, they do have to meet them. Otherwise they become "inactive life members."

    We just sent out a bunch of letters (late, but we'll adjust), which brought out the idea that we should rethink our requirements with some emphasis on other activities like work details, training, and (imagine that!) fire calls.

    Unfortunately, there are those who wish to protect their friends (inactive though they may be) who will fight such actions. Several years ago, as we tried to bounce several members we hadn't seen in a couple of years, one active member said he felt our bylaws should be advisory, not the law of the land. Unfortunately, this makes it all the tougher to get rid of someone you really do want out.

    In many cases, the reasons for non-attendance are already known, and very often there is an informal one-on-one where it's suggested that if the member is no longer interested they should resign, as that looks much better if they ever decide to join again.
    Last edited by tree68; 01-07-2011 at 12:09 PM.
    Opinions my own. Standard disclaimers apply.

    Everyone goes home. Safety begins with you.

  4. #4
    MembersZone Subscriber

    Join Date
    Dec 2001
    Location
    Lusby, MD
    Posts
    1,035

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by JD1234 View Post
    How does your Volunteer Department deal with members whose participation has fallen far below standards or is nonexistent?

    1. Do nothing.
    2. Grumble and moan about it.
    3. Vote/Kick them out and collect their gear/equipment.
    4. Contact them to find out what the problem is.
    5. Outreach/encouragement to get them back in the loop.

    --
    Does your department do any kind of exit interview or obtain any feedback from members who leave?

    Just curious. It amazes me how some departments let good members fall by the wayside and make assumptions when members stop showing up without some kind of outreach.
    All of the above. We have a membership committee that handles this. If they are not on track to meet requirements at the half way point, a letter is sent. If they don't respond or pick up the pace, they are dropped. At the end of the year, we put people who did not make their quotas on notice and they have 6 months to keep up.

    In addition, we require an average of 10 calls per month to maintain a locker and pager. If they don't keep up, lockers and pagers are pulled.

    We try to give people every opportunity to start coming around more or explain their situation if it's temporary before dropping them. This is especially true of members who have been around for a while.

  5. #5
    Forum Member

    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    NJ
    Posts
    225

    Default

    All excellent procedures. Unfortunately, we see most of 1 and 2 in my area. The meeting with the member in GVFD5's post is a good idea and a good way to get the person back on board. Too many firefighters fall by the wayside because of some misunderstanding and disagreement that then mushrooms into the member being a worthless POS. The cliques in volunteer fire department can worse than a high school. Friend-protecting can be a big problem in several areas, including letting dead wood go and discipline.

    Biggest problem I see in some departments is an inability of today's leaders to confront. They are perfectly happy to rip someone behind their backs, but when it comes time to addressing a problem directly, crickets.

    Thanks for the replies.

  6. #6
    MembersZone Subscriber
    tree68's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Location
    Jefferson County, NY USA
    Posts
    2,346

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by JD1234 View Post
    The meeting with the member in GVFD5's post is a good idea and a good way to get the person back on board.
    A version of that we may all want to consider is what the reserve police department did where I used to live.

    In addition to interviewing the prospective new member, they met with the applicant's significant other to make sure that he/she knew what the applicant was signing up for.

    I'm sure we've all known members whose time is suddenly all taken up by the "honey do" list.
    Opinions my own. Standard disclaimers apply.

    Everyone goes home. Safety begins with you.

  7. #7
    Forum Member

    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    USA
    Posts
    378

    Default Member Retention

    One of the difficulties I see that younger volunteers have with participating (training sessions, meetings, etc.) is child care.

    Due to the economic realities today, both spouses work. One may work the day shift and the other the night shift.

    If your FD could provide an arrangement for childcare during the designated meeting times, training times and even the social events (so the member could bring their spouse), this could help with attendance.

    Could a daycare in the community be paid to be open on certain evenings? Is there a member (or nonmember) that would be willing to watch children in their home? Is there a retired person who is willing to do day care?

    This could possibly be arranged for fire calls, too. If a member has childcare issues, this may be a reason why they cannot attend FD events or even all the fire/EMS runs.

    This is something you may want to consider if you have younger members on your FD. I know of several FD's that have designated babysitters that their members can call to see if they are available, when a fire or EMS call comes in.

    You may have members that want to participate, but they have family obligations, too. If you help with childcare, you can obtain more active members.

  8. #8
    Forum Member
    Blulakr's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Podunk
    Posts
    378

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by JD1234 View Post
    1. Do nothing.
    2. Grumble and moan about it.
    3. Vote/Kick them out and collect their gear/equipment.
    4. Contact them to find out what the problem is.
    5. Outreach/encouragement to get them back in the loop.

    --
    .
    In order...

    #2
    #4
    #5
    #3
    My wise and profound comments and opinions are mine alone and are in no way associated with any other individual or group.

  9. #9
    Forum Member
    GVFD5's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Posts
    39

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by FIRE117 View Post
    If your FD could provide an arrangement for childcare during the designated meeting times, training times and even the social events (so the member could bring their spouse), this could help with attendance.
    I think this is an excellent idea. Being a young Dad of Twin boys and my wife working alot of hours (has to take call 3 nights a week), this could help eleviate alot of, if not all the problems I have attending. I am VERY active still, but this would help and help reduce a little of the stress on my wife as well. I am going to suggest it in the next few months and we will see where is goes. Thanks for the idea!

    Stay Safe

    FD5
    "EVERYONE GOES HOME... ALWAYS"

    "Let no mans ghost come back to say his training let him down."

  10. #10
    Forum Member

    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Posts
    1

    Default

    Sounds like "Dead weight" to me. If they are not contributing to the department now, will you really miss them if the department gets rid of them? I highly doubt it!

    I would rather have fewer members that are fully committed than carry the "Dead Weight".

  11. #11
    Forum Member
    Rice09's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Location
    Western NY
    Posts
    177

    Default

    My department has the regulars who show up to most calls and help at fund raisers. Then there are those who only show up if there are flames. We don't have anything set up to question those who don't participate, but I wouldn't be against it and I think it's a good idea. The problem that I face is that there is a decent amount of resistance when trying to make new things happen. Not to mention that most members feel because they are volunteering, they shouldn't be required.

    I made a statement about these issues. I made it know that regardless of the call, I would be at the call unless I was working, ill or had our younger daughter. (My wife is a FF, so we can take turns). I also said that it shouldn't matter if it's a gas odor or a fully involved hotel, volunteers should want to be there to help. I also made it clear that our fund raisers are failing to be productive due to the lack of help and it's not just the people who don't show up, it's the people who don't like the idea, or it wasn't their idea. I encouraged everyone to try and help when they can and maybe we can get more done. Our moral is low at this point, but I'm confident that changes in our leadership will remedy that.

  12. #12
    Forum Member
    GVFD5's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Posts
    39

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Rice09 View Post
    Not to mention that most members feel because they are volunteering, they shouldn't be required.
    To quote one of our members... "We are not 'JUST VOLUNTEERS' , We are Under Compensated Professionals" To be a good fireman/woman everyone needs to look past the fact they are "JUST VOLUNTEERS".
    "EVERYONE GOES HOME... ALWAYS"

    "Let no mans ghost come back to say his training let him down."

  13. #13
    MembersZone Subscriber
    tree68's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Location
    Jefferson County, NY USA
    Posts
    2,346

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by GVFD5 View Post
    To quote one of our members... "We are not 'JUST VOLUNTEERS' , We are Under Compensated Professionals" To be a good fireman/woman everyone needs to look past the fact they are "JUST VOLUNTEERS".
    If they want to "just volunteer," there are plenty of organizations that will be glad to see them.

    I assemble a spreadsheet of each member's responses each year which goes to our commissioners. You'd think some of them would be embarrassed by their own numbers, but a lot don't even seem to care.

    In fact, I'm convinced that some of them think I do it to showcase my own numbers (which are high, but that's another story).
    Opinions my own. Standard disclaimers apply.

    Everyone goes home. Safety begins with you.

  14. #14
    Forum Member

    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Posts
    291

    Default

    At the current time it is:

    1. Do nothing.
    2. Grumble and moan about it.
    3. Vote/Kick them out and collect their gear/equipment.
    4. Contact them to find out what the problem is.
    5. Outreach/encouragement to get them back in the loop.

    But I am trying to turn it around where 5 & 4 come first before we go to option 3, maybe if we do 4 & 5 it will prevent 1 & 2.

  15. #15
    MembersZone Subscriber
    voyager9's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Location
    Southern NJ
    Posts
    2,007

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by GVFD5 View Post
    To quote one of our members... "We are not 'JUST VOLUNTEERS' , We are Under Compensated Professionals" To be a good fireman/woman everyone needs to look past the fact they are "JUST VOLUNTEERS".
    The paraphrase someone, I forget who: "the last thing you volunteered for was signing the application"
    So you call this your free country
    Tell me why it costs so much to live
    -3dd

  16. #16
    MembersZone Subscriber
    voyager9's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Location
    Southern NJ
    Posts
    2,007

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by FIRE117 View Post
    One of the difficulties I see that younger volunteers have with participating (training sessions, meetings, etc.) is child care.

    As a father of a 2-month old I can definitely relate. I've already missed two workers because I was on baby duty. I wouldn't change it for the world, but it's hard to comfort a collicy baby while listening to the scanner .

    The idea of Child care has come up at our station.. in fact just last week someone brought up the idea. Mainly it was enveloped in the idea of getting the spouses/significant others more involved and bring in more opportunities for both the members and families to socialize.

    One idea was that one of the wives (I'm picking a gender here.. roles could obviously be reversed) could come up with her husband when the pager goes off. The other responders could come up with their kids and she would babysit. It's an interesting idea but I don't know how easy it would be to manage.. not to mention that at least in my case by the time I get the 2-month old in the car seat I'm missing the truck..
    So you call this your free country
    Tell me why it costs so much to live
    -3dd

  17. #17
    MembersZone Subscriber
    tree68's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Location
    Jefferson County, NY USA
    Posts
    2,346

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by voyager9 View Post
    The other responders could come up with their kids and she would babysit. It's an interesting idea but I don't know how easy it would be to manage.
    I think it's a great idea - but I see the real possibility for abuse.

    Just like we have a small group that seems to show up for everything while others find other things to do, I foresee certain spouses who assume that "Marge" will be there and there's no sense of them going down. In fact, hubby can take the kids down to the station while he's at the fire and wifey can enjoy a little quiet time, or maybe even go shopping, sans kids.

    Eventually, "Marge" gets tired of managing beaucoup kids all by herself for every call and gives it up. The program collapses.

    There is also the eventuality that no caregivers would be available (we'll assume legitimately) either immediately or at all, meaning that a firefighter must remain at the station to watch the kids.

    Then one has to assume that there are even suitable facilities at the station to run such a "day care" center.

    That doesn't mean it's a bad idea, but we need to consider the possibilities both positive and negative.
    Opinions my own. Standard disclaimers apply.

    Everyone goes home. Safety begins with you.

  18. #18
    MembersZone Subscriber
    voyager9's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Location
    Southern NJ
    Posts
    2,007

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by tree68 View Post
    There is also the eventuality that no caregivers would be available (we'll assume legitimately) either immediately or at all, meaning that a firefighter must remain at the station to watch the kids.
    I know the guys, and there is no way I'm letting any of them anywhere near my daughter unsupervised.
    So you call this your free country
    Tell me why it costs so much to live
    -3dd

  19. #19
    MembersZone Subscriber
    voyager9's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Location
    Southern NJ
    Posts
    2,007

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by tree68 View Post
    I think it's a great idea - but I see the real possibility for abuse.
    ...
    That doesn't mean it's a bad idea, but we need to consider the possibilities both positive and negative.
    Yup, as with most systems it has to be set up and managed correctly. Where I see it having some merit and also unintended benefits is if it were set up where the all the wives and kids respond.. while the FF's are off on the call the wives hang out/chat..etc and the kids play. Could work well if the wives/kids get along well..then they'd want to go on calls. Added benefit in that if it is a working fire someone would be at the station to make coffee or order food for afterwards. (or even get involved in organizing cover companies..etc).

    The problem could be with demographics. It's aiming at a pretty niche segment of the membership. A younger couple interesting in socializing with young children. The older segment.. those already established social circles outside the department may not want to participate.. in the same vein the girl/boyfriends of members probably won't either.. obviously these are generalities..
    So you call this your free country
    Tell me why it costs so much to live
    -3dd

  20. #20
    Forum Member
    ChathamVFD9921's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Chatham, Ohio
    Posts
    114

    Default

    2. Grumble and moan about it.

    We have 34 members, but only 7 are EMTs. We have 3 FF2's, 4 FF1's and the rest our VFF.

    We ran 240 calls last year, 205 the year before.

    We have a core group of 8-12 that are on almost every call, and 7-8 members who make less then 30 a year. The average is around 50-60 i would say.

    We have a passive Cheif who is afriad of "pushing" members away, so his speech is always the same, "Good job guys, we do what we can and everyone is equal".

    Very frustrating.

    For what its worth, im a FF2/EMT and i made 130 calls. Working part time and going to school. I ranked 4th out of 34.

  21. #21
    Forum Member

    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Posts
    3

    Default

    I used to be one of those no-show ff's a couple months after I joined but after one or two one-on-one conversations with the chief I turned myself around to be one of the top responding members on the depatment. As a member of the personnel board I tend to give MIA members a little bit more time than most people because I know that a member will eventually catch the bug on their own if you let them.

    Most of the time these members are doing no harm by not responding so instead of potentially losing a great asset, give them time and space to figure out their role on the department, and you will gain or regain some excellent firefighters.

  22. #22
    55 Years & Still Rolling
    hwoods's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2002
    Location
    Glenn Dale Md, Heart of the P.G. County Fire Belt....
    Posts
    10,740

    Thumbs up Yeah..........

    Quote Originally Posted by voyager9 View Post
    I know the guys, and there is no way I'm letting any of them anywhere near my daughter unsupervised.

    About 14 years from now, remember that......

    All 4 of our Daughters married into the Fire Service, and 3 out of 4 are/were members themselves. Grandkids are now involved, with the oldest Grandson recently cleared to Drive all Apparatus. It appears to run in the Family, His 2 year old Daughter gets in the Drivers seat and doesn't want to get out....
    Never use Force! Get a Bigger Hammer.
    In memory of
    Chief Earle W. Woods, 1912 - 1997
    Asst. Chief John R. Woods Sr. 1937 - 2006

    IACOJ Budget Analyst

    I Refuse to be a Spectator. If I come to the Game, I'm Playing.

    www.gdvfd18.com

  23. #23
    Forum Member

    Join Date
    May 2007
    Posts
    441

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by voyager9 View Post
    As a father of a 2-month old I can definitely relate. I've already missed two workers because I was on baby duty. I wouldn't change it for the world, but it's hard to comfort a collicy baby while listening to the scanner .
    ..
    I have 4 kids 6-11yr. Trust me, you don't have either of the items of equipment a 2m old cares anything about. Forget the PC empathy BS it's not going to get you anything. Go to the call where you can accomplish something useful.

    Kid room is something we've talked about but not attempted. Directing a group of wives can be harder than hurding cats.

  24. #24
    MembersZone Subscriber
    voyager9's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Location
    Southern NJ
    Posts
    2,007

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by fireinfo10 View Post
    I have 4 kids 6-11yr. Trust me, you don't have either of the items of equipment a 2m old cares anything about. Forget the PC empathy BS it's not going to get you anything. Go to the call where you can accomplish something useful.
    Lol. Thanks for the advice. I think I'll file that under "if I ever want to be a single parent".
    So you call this your free country
    Tell me why it costs so much to live
    -3dd

  25. #25
    MembersZone Subscriber
    voyager9's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Location
    Southern NJ
    Posts
    2,007

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by hwoods View Post
    About 14 years from now, remember that......

    All 4 of our Daughters married into the Fire Service, and 3 out of 4 are/were members themselves. Grandkids are now involved, with the oldest Grandson recently cleared to Drive all Apparatus. It appears to run in the Family, His 2 year old Daughter gets in the Drivers seat and doesn't want to get out....
    There's something wrong when an entire crew has the same name on the back of their PPE.. Usually we find that sort of thing closer to the Pine Barrens.
    So you call this your free country
    Tell me why it costs so much to live
    -3dd

Thread Information

Users Browsing this Thread

There are currently 1 users browsing this thread. (0 members and 1 guests)

Similar Threads

  1. Replies: 92
    Last Post: 10-30-2007, 03:14 PM
  2. FIRE-RESCUE VOLUNTEERS: Tradition in peril?
    By britfan1 in forum Firefighters Forum
    Replies: 13
    Last Post: 03-28-2006, 06:01 PM
  3. Firefighting in the great state of SC
    By Roofhook in forum Firefighters Forum
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 01-06-2005, 02:42 PM
  4. Firefighting in the great state of SC
    By Roofhook in forum Volunteer Forum
    Replies: 0
    Last Post: 01-06-2005, 02:27 PM
  5. Tax Abatements/Exemptions for Volunteers
    By Adze39 in forum Volunteer Forum
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 09-15-2002, 12:40 PM

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts

Log in

Click here to log in or register