Can't really tell you why I've stuck it out this long (in my 22nd year now) - still volunteer, also paid p/t fill-in guy, and paid/volunteer instructor, but for whatever reasons even after all the negative things like jacobsond and Eng34FF mentioned - I'm still here.
What I can offer is that if you're really looking to fix "retention" issues you need to focus more on what causes your members to leave vs what makes people stay.
As indicated by the numbers of "I don't know why, but I do" type answers here - it's easy to keep people with very little effort or incentive; however it is also just as easy to run them off with small & easily managed issues.
If you have contact information, go back & "interview" any members you've lost over the last 5 years and ask them why they left. Even better (if you have the funds & time) send them a Self Addressed Stamped Envelope and a note asking them to reply anonymously as to why they left.
Hope that helps & good luck. Also an "Atta Boy" for you for at least making the effort to think about retention.
There are 2 areas that I think will help with retention:
1) There is a lot of talk of the brotherhood. I think it's what draws people in...it's high on my list...in addition to the fire in my belly when the tones drop. <G> New members need to be immediately brought into that and encouraged to become part of the family. If you have social nights at the station friday night beer and wings or whatever it is get 'em there. Involve them in things both fire related ofcourse, but also social. If the firehouse is more than just the place you run to when the pager goes off...if it's a second home....how do you quit?
1A) Create a "sunshine club" I don't know what else to call it. Get a group of guys together and check in on members who are sick, hurt, etc, etc... I would be honored to belong to an organization that shows up at a members house who sprained their ankle and mow his lawn or carry in his firewood. How do you quit an organization that does that for you when you are down?
2) Live the purpose and have a plan. Drives me nuts when we show up at the station on drill night and the officers have no plan for what's going to go on, or what they intend to accomplish. I remember getting on a pump for a refresher qualification when I first got back in and started driving and when I asked the Lt. what he wanted me to do...he said "just do whatever you want". I said..."your not going to give me an evolution" he said no..."just do what you want". If the goal is clear and everybody is pulling towards that goal....how do you quit that?
Why do I keep doing it.
I'm POC and I work in a full time department. Yes I'm paid but the money does not make up for the 0200 call outs, the missed dinners, family events, and fire service politics. Whenever it starts to feel a bit too much I always ask myself the age old question: "If not me then who?" . But I know that if I were to quit I would be replaced by a 20-something kid.
Thanks to each of you. It is a problem everyone faces and I think y'all hit on some great points including what I think is #1 - Leadership. People wont stay if they do not have confidence/respect for those in charge.
I like the idea of interviewing those who have left. Who better to tell you where to improve?
Some really good articles on Recruitment and Retention can be found here. The main FEMA Report from 2007 is very comprehensive and follows much of the feelings expressed here.
SEE: http://www.usfa.fema.gov/pdf/efop/efo32706.pdf O’Fallon, MO
http://www.rural.palegislature.us/Vo...fighters06.pdf The Center for Rural Pa.
http://www.usfa.fema.gov/downloads/p...ons/fa-310.pdf FEMA 2007 Report 261 pp
Exit interviews should be done on everyone leaving the fire company, but it needs to be handled delicately and with compassion. Anyone angry enough to give up on something they have invested Blood, Sweat & Tears into probably isn't too receptive to digging up all the nasty things that pushed them into throwing it all away.
Im entering my 4th year, and feeling nowhere near burned out. My department is small, not very busy, and very close knit. Im a 3rd generation Chatham Fireman, and that means something to me.
1. I live in the township. What better way to have a say in how my house and family are protected.
2. I like serving my community.
3. I'm treated well, I have a say in how we do things, who we do it with, and what we do it with. (Not that I get my way all the time :))
4. I do it fulltime anyway, so I have a lot of experience to offer.
5. I get a little beer money for the runs I make and drills I attend.
Wish I knew.....started as a junior in 1968. Held fire certs in a city slowly replacing volunteer with career. Gave up fire certs in 1992, after being hired by local PD in 1990. Got my NREMT-P in 1986, and still have it. Doing a lot with the PD as far as AED program, SWAT medics, and TCCC for the rest of the department. Just hate to lose the paramedic cert, so I run 2 duties a month on the box, as well as what I pickup on the street carrying a gun. Thinking about retirement from the PD, and a part time medic job somewheres.
The loud beepy thing that I clip to my belt (that thing gets really annoying at 4am), and the sweet azz t-shirt.
In all seriousness, I enjoy it. I live in one town I volunteer in, and right next to the other one. Volly as an EMT as well in another neighboring town.
What keeps me on the FD in the town I live in is tradition. Not so much interdepartmental tradition, but family tradition. My Grandfather was chief, my Dad was chief, and I've had various other family members (mom, uncle, aunt etc) on the same department.
I enjoy it, what can I say.
I'm almost up to 25 years. I've slowed down a bit, not because I want to just the aches and pains of being almost 50 remind me that I'm not as young as I used to be. I ride when I can, mostly drive and leave the fun and excitement to those who are a bit younger. And if you're not on when I start moving the piece get on the next one cause I'm not waiting.
I've been in the service 9 years (be 10 yrs in June), Dad got me into firefighting at the age of 3, lol. I could pump the engines at age 8. I live in a very small town so the fire calls are far and few in between (avg. 30-35/yr) but that adrenaline rush is a great feeling! Being able to teach the new guys basic firefighting skills is great as well as brushing up on aspects of firefighting on your own. I don't mind the early morning pages unlike my wife does!
I have backed off a bit now but am on my 12th year or so. A good portion of that was spent and treasurer and president. I just liked helping the community and meeting a LOT of wonderful people.
I'm a 4th generation firefighter. I've grown up around it and it's pretty much who I am. Not everyone want's to do it at all, some a little and some go all out. I've always felt that I wanted to do whatever I could to be involved and it's been very rewarding. I wouldn't change a thing. So, maybe guys like me are the exception, but I can tell you that I go after it and it's made a difference in terms of others participation. My advice would be to do the same. Lead by example and you will have guys follow. Make it exciting, fun and teach all you know.
Originally Posted by Spencer534
I transferred to another dept. When I got here, they trained once a month. So, I made myself available once a week. Made up some training evolutions, had some get togethers, cards etc. It will get guys interested if you're positive. Bring in other departments. Learn from each other and this will make guys start participating more.
I have volunteered for 7 years and have recently been fortunate enough to make a career of it. I am a 4th generation firefighter. It's a family business to be a Volunteer Firefighter. I basically love everything about it: helping people and the community, working with my hands, getting to look at a big red shiny firetruck and taking pride in what I do, and yes, even the adrenaline rush once in a while.
Same to me
Originally Posted by Bones42
www.feuerwehr-derichsweiler.de since 1978
Santa has to do something in the off season!!!