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Thread: Trying to find new ways to get new members

  1. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by RHB312 View Post
    The last three new members we recruited came through local churches. We have taken an engine to a revival meeting or a youth festival and talked about the department. Once a member approached me after a service and asked about the radio I carry (set to the paging channel so it doesn't go off all during prayers). At least in the South, church folks seem more attuned to giving back to the community.
    If you can get the church to agree, it's an excellent place to recruit members. Something as simple as a table in back with a members and a few applications can yield results.

    As far as door to door recruiting, it represents a very heavy time investment for what it yields.

    One of the techniques that I have found effective are simple yard signs placed at key intersections in the district. A simple, short message with the department's name and number may be all that is need to prompt somebody to at least inquire.
    Train to fight the fires you fight.

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    Quote Originally Posted by hwoods View Post
    Several pitfalls to avoid........ In order to attract the best candidates for membership, any Volunteer organization needs to first be sure that their organizational structure is set up properly. If you have the following things, you should make them go away: 1. Residence Requirements. There is no valid reason in the year 2011 for a VFD to be concerned about where a member lives. 2. Limits on the number of members that an organization can have. Tones, BBL.
    Sorry, Harve, gotta disagree with you on that one. Maybe in P.G. County, where all the "volunteer" stations are actually staffed 24-7, I'd see your point. But in rural unstaffed "respond to the station" type departments, it does make a great deal of difference where people live. Guys responding hot in POV's through three other fire districts from 20 minutes away is not my idea of a good arrangement. That's exactly the kind of unprofessional redneck image we've been trying to do away with. By definition we have to have guys who live in district, and preferably very close to the station.

    And it's not like we're the only volly department in the region so everyone has to travel here from their "no vollies, career only" home city to get their fire on....it's pretty much all volly around here, if you want to be a firefighter join the department where you live.

    There are still traditional volunteer departments, and then there are full time departments like yours (albeit unpaid)....each has a different model of operation and therefore different requirements.
    Chief Dwayne LeBlanc
    Paincourtville Volunteer Fire Department
    Paincourtville, LA

    "I have a dream. It's not a big dream, it's just a little dream. My dream and I hope you don't find this too crazy is that I would like the people of this community to feel that if, God forbid, there were a fire, calling the fire department would actually be a wise thing to do. You can't have people, if their houses are burning down, saying, 'Whatever you do, don't call the fire department!' That would be bad."
    C.D. Bales, "Roxanne"

  3. #28
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    A few of our members don't live in the district - usually because they moved for some reason after they became a member. And we're not unique.

    There's just enough competitiveness (or something) between departments that often such folks would prefer to drive the extra miles rather than transfer to the department the serves where they now live.

    If they get far enough away, they'll usually transfer. Folks don't "hate" "distant" departments as much as they "hate" their neighbor...
    Opinions my own. Standard disclaimers apply.

    Everyone goes home. Safety begins with you.

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    Over 1/2 of my firefighters don't live in my district. They live in the near by town. We are all rural area that borders this town. My firefighters in town can be at the fire station fast than I can becuase they have all paved roads and I have 4.6 miles of dirt road. Most of the time our out of district firefighters respond directly to the scene so their distance from the station is made up by going directly to the scene. As far as running hot we have a very good relationship with other fire district and LEO's. Volly can run lights and siren with no problem as long as they behave them selves speed wise. It hasn't really been a problem for us.

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    When I was a POC FF whenever we had a large brush fire or a high visibility incident occur in the District we usually got applications turned-in or interest shown.
    "Be LOUD, Be PROUD..... It just might save your can someday when goin' through an intersection!!!!!"

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    The town over from me had their VFD had a open house where they had a proving-grounds area with a huge parking lot and old Kmart that was abandoned. They put anyone in turnout gear, lit some small brush/gas fires in the parking lot, had the citizens put it out.

    The second part was having contests to see who could get the turnout gear/SCBA on the fastest. The winner received an AMEX gift card.

    The last part was a ride-along in the heavy rescue engine going through a course. They couldn't drive it, but were allowed to sit in the captain's seat and play with the lights/siren/horn and feel what it was like in the seat.

    That is what more FD's should do. I'm joining my FD because I live across the street from it and always had an interest, but now I have more time and also am of age.
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    We too are in the process of looking for new members. There has been a lot of good information discussed here already. I might add a few points.

    1. Make sure your departments is one that someone would like to be a part of. Do you have good leaders.
    A Vol fire dept. is a business as any good business goes it is only as good as it management makes it.

    2. If you have requirements for membership such as. yearly physicals, training requirements etc. it is very important that new prospects are informed of these up front.

    3. We recently stole the idea of a cover letter as such that our prospects get along with the application. The cover letter explains who we are, what we do and what is expected of our new members and current members.

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    I haven't seen it mentioned yet, does your VFD have an Explorers post? If not consider starting one. Almost every Explorer in our department joins the FD when they hit 18, that's good for at least 2 young, "introductory trained", firefighters per year. I joined my first (and current) FD because I was an Explorer for 2 years. I didn't have much interest in the fire service previous to being an Explorer.


    Quote Originally Posted by chem1cal View Post
    I live in an area where the property taxes are some of the highest in the nation.
    I live in a county where property taxes are literally THE highest in the nation. Woohoo. That said for some reason we're an anomaly and don't have an issue recruiting. Part of it may be tradition (lots of father/sons/grandsons, etc.), part of it may be the economy crashing didn't hit this area as bad as others (don't cheer just yet, we didn't get the boom either). Other departments in the county have had issues recruiting volunteers though so it still affects us, we go on many more mutual aid calls than we did 10 years ago. Some depts have had to go combination or increased their career positions.


    Quote Originally Posted by chem1cal View Post
    An idea that someone stated earlier was good - go door-to-door. This shows initiative and will get the word to reach a broader spectrum. Some people don't even KNOW that my department is volunteer
    This. My department serves a somewhat affluent area and most transplant residents assume we are a career department. Get the word out that you're volunteer! We've gotten the "I pay your salary" thing a few times, lol. However, we've also gotten the "Wow" a few times from people when 3 engines and a ladder show up to even a small fire.

    One thing I've seen several local departments do is on every piece of apparatus there is a "100% volunteer served" graphic, I like this a lot. It's not huge or overwhelming and matches the rest of the trucks graphics but it is noticeable and looks sharp. Not only does it let citizens know the FD is volunteer, it shows pride in their department and their members. I would like to see that on our trucks but there is no indication anywhere on our stations or apparatus that we are volunteer.

    I also love the door to door thing. I joined my 2nd department because of a door to door fund drive, it works.

  9. #34
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    My first reaction to this was: Don't all volunteer fire departments have "volunteer" in their name? But, when I thought about it a bit, I realized that I could name quite a few around me that just had the name of their town and fire department.

    I would think in towns where "volunteer" is part of the name there wouldn't be much need to put extra wording on the trucks UNLESS you've just got a "V" in there (Smithville VFD) which many in the general public might not recognize stands for volunteer.

    Now, I'm in a combination department, so we can't really use this technique and I know that few people realize we have a volunteer component, so getting the word out on that is a challenge.

  10. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnFeinberg View Post
    The town over from me had their VFD had a open house where they had a proving-grounds area with a huge parking lot and old Kmart that was abandoned. They put anyone in turnout gear, lit some small brush/gas fires in the parking lot, had the citizens put it out.

    The second part was having contests to see who could get the turnout gear/SCBA on the fastest. The winner received an AMEX gift card.

    The last part was a ride-along in the heavy rescue engine going through a course. They couldn't drive it, but were allowed to sit in the captain's seat and play with the lights/siren/horn and feel what it was like in the seat.

    That is what more FD's should do. I'm joining my FD because I live across the street from it and always had an interest, but now I have more time and also am of age.
    Not agreeing with the last part about "That is what more FD's should do". While I understand that the concept is good, having citizen's extinguish fires and rising in apparatus with lights and sirens going sure sounds to me like a really bad idea from a legal perspective. While I know many of us hate to hear that, it needs to be a consideration ijn every thing that we do.

    Demonstrations are certainly a valuable tool in the recruiting tool box. And there are times that we may be able to allow citizen participation, however, that being said, we do really have to think things through when we are planning such activities.
    Last edited by LaFireEducator; 02-21-2012 at 05:50 PM.
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  11. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by auxman View Post
    My first reaction to this was: Don't all volunteer fire departments have "volunteer" in their name? But, when I thought about it a bit, I realized that I could name quite a few around me that just had the name of their town and fire department.

    I would think in towns where "volunteer" is part of the name there wouldn't be much need to put extra wording on the trucks UNLESS you've just got a "V" in there (Smithville VFD) which many in the general public might not recognize stands for volunteer.

    Now, I'm in a combination department, so we can't really use this technique and I know that few people realize we have a volunteer component, so getting the word out on that is a challenge.
    One idea that i really like, and think can be very effective is adding some lettering to the truck in the vein of "100% volunteer 100% of the time" or "All volunteer since _____".

    My previous VFD had the same issue. The long-time residents knew that we were volunteer, but the newbies that were moving out of the city into our surburban district often thought that we were career. It's quite possible that our fairly rapid response times for a VFD and fairly professional operation may have contributed.
    Train to fight the fires you fight.

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    We are located adjacent to a private high school and college campus. As a result, we conduct a membership drive every September. Aside from the social aspect of helping your fellow man speech, we also offer many amenities that a young person attending a private high school or college may desire:
    -Free internet -Free use of washer/dryer -Quiet study rooms/small reference library -Tuition assistance & grants -Free off campus parking -Male/Female bunk rooms (must be out of high school) -clothing/uniform allowance -all fire-related courses fully paid for -mileage reimbursement (company related travel such as to and from fire school) -full kitchen
    "Loyalty Above all Else. Except Honor."

  13. #38
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    My #1 POC FD had tried various ways of recruiting for years mostly unsuccessfully. Flyers in local businesses, open houses, community events, none were very successful.

    What we finally decided was that since we weren't having much luck recruiting we would concentrate on making the firefighters we had better, better trained, better equipped, better educated on as many aspects of the fire service as we could. As our reputation got better, our neighboring FDs began to use us more, and pretty soon we seemed to be getting more and more applications. I think it was last year when we finally had to put a cap on members because we couldn't afford to outfit and equip any more firefighters.

    Build a fire department that has a great reputation and people will come to you. People want to be involved in good, solid, reputable organizations. The inverse is people will either not want to be involved at all, or they will leave, organizations that do not provide a solid, professional atmosphere, and has a great reputation in the community.
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    Quote Originally Posted by FyredUp View Post
    My #1 POC FD had tried various ways of recruiting for years mostly unsuccessfully. Flyers in local businesses, open houses, community events, none were very successful.

    What we finally decided was that since we weren't having much luck recruiting we would concentrate on making the firefighters we had better, better trained, better equipped, better educated on as many aspects of the fire service as we could. As our reputation got better, our neighboring FDs began to use us more, and pretty soon we seemed to be getting more and more applications. I think it was last year when we finally had to put a cap on members because we couldn't afford to outfit and equip any more firefighters.

    Build a fire department that has a great reputation and people will come to you. People want to be involved in good, solid, reputable organizations. The inverse is people will either not want to be involved at all, or they will leave, organizations that do not provide a solid, professional atmosphere, and has a great reputation in the community.
    I think this is the best answer yet. Dont get me wrong, sometimes making the change in the memberships attitude will be a very tough task in and of itself. But good organizations bring in good people.
    Shawn M. Cecula
    Firefighter
    IACOJ Division of Fire and EMS

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    try the local high schools to. it may not seem like a good idea, but if you get them interested around 15 or so and have a cadet program it can turn out to be very good. it also get them off the coach away from durgs and all that other crap.

    i have been apart of my vol dept. since i was born pretty much. and started runnin calls when i was 14 as a cadet. plus cadets are extreamly usefull. they may not be able to go in but there are so many positions you can free up if you just take the time to teach them how to set up the porta tank, and run/operate the pump. roll hose, hell even overhaul if declared safe by safty officer, and department by laws permit them to do so. i know when i was a cadet i could do external firefighting. co try the high schools you never know it may turn out good, and if you hand out info for there parents to read you may get them in return.

  16. #41
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    I've been helping with recruiting at my Dept. and there are a few things that have worked. I live in a pretty small town, so quality prospects are mimited. However, being creative helps a great deal. We just had our "Recruit NY" Open house and it was a flop. Every dept. in our county did on the same weekend, so it was watered down. Literally too, it rained and was a miserable day. I did some research and all the other dept.s had similar results.
    So, what we did was create a Open House/Open recuitment plan. We decided that we'll pick a warmer day and plan it out far in advance. Get people excited and committed to coming. We also hand out applications at all our events. I carry them with me. If I see someone that might be a good firefighter or wants to help, I talk to them. We also have a committe that interviews applicants. We are in charge of the new applicants being excepted or not, bring to the monthly meeting and giving our suggestions. Also, if you get people to apply, follow up. Call them. Groom them. Help them with the new experience. Inform them of all that is happening. Form a committee, make a plan and do it. We've had 12 members in the past 8 months.
    roberta torres likes this.

  17. #42
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    The trick with recruiting is that it must be an on-going process that identifies and advertises to all segements of the community with a different message tailored to each groups reasons for wanting to become a firefighter.

    Let me break that first paragraph down. First of all, periodic recruiting drives simply do not work. There should always be some level of recruiting going on. In other, words, there should always be a message out there that you are looking for people. That certainly does not mean that there can't be times when the message may be more intensive than others, but the department should always be ready to welcome anyone that may walk through the door and have a plan in place to get them involved in the department.

    Secondly, different deomgraphic groups in the community look to join the fire department for very different reasons. All of those reasons work of Maslov's Hierarchy of Needs, so having abasic understanding of that concept will greatly aid in the development of a recruiting plan. The plan should identify which groups in the community you want to taregt, should identify thier reasons for joining, identify where the best locations are to deliver the messages to each group and identify the specific wording of the messages and the techniques that will be used.

    As an example, one of maslov's needs is a wanting to be part of a team nd there are specific groups that will join for that reason. Athletes, ex-military and other folks used to working in a team atmosphere will generally seek out volunteer activities that involve teamwork, especially under stressful conditions, such as firefighting. What you need to do is identify places in your community where these folks can be found. That likely may include gyms, softball and other athletic leagues. Once you identify these locations you need to develop messages that stress the team atmosphere and brotherhood of firefighting. Then decide how you will deliver these messages - posters, handouts, videos, maybe even a n piece of apparatus with a table at the ballfield.

    That being said, if you are marketing brotherhood, as an example, your department better be able to deliver. It's no different if you are marketing any other message. if your department's training does not challenege personnel physically, and that is something you are using to bring people in, they likely will leave.

    There other motivations that draw community members to the fire department as well. They include a sense of belonging, a sense of safety, self-actualization, physical and mental challenges, learning new skills, etc. The trick is attaching all of these motivations to specific demographic groups in your community that will eb attracted by those aspects of the fire service then developing specific messages to attract them.

    And yes, effective recruiting does require a lot of work, a lot of time and a lot of effort. And yes, it is a constant process. Sure, you can throw one or two messages aout there, and yes, you will attract some interest, but there is a reason advertisers have specific messages for specific demographics, and recruiting for the fire department is no different.
    Last edited by LaFireEducator; 05-30-2012 at 11:51 AM.
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    lap dances on drill night.
    ?

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    Our volunteer dept. is all we have for another dept to respond will be more than 30 minutes away...its a good thing to have volunteers there three around us that help out on every call....this is what the community needs...screening members or potential members..according to by laws have to go under a background check....community events setting up a booth to encourage member ship is a great thing...

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    thats a great idea...

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