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  1. #1
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    Default If over 5 years as a volly, what keeps you?

    They (not sure who "they" are, but they sure do have a lot of opinions) say that most volunteer firefighters last only 5 years. If you have over 5 years, what keeps you on the department? Trying to figure this out to help with retention.


  2. #2
    MembersZone Subscriber BULL321's Avatar
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    That's an easy question to ask. Love of the job and understanding that there is a need to serve your community.


    Plus they give you a free t-shirt and sweat shirt every year!
    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!”
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    The enjoyment of it. If I had not moved an hour and a half away from my old vol dept I'd still be there.
    If your going to cry about doing the job you signed up for do us all a favor and quit, there are plenty of dedicated people standing in line for the best job in the world.

    Firefighter/Paramedic

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    Forum Member FyredUp's Avatar
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    I have been a volunteer/POC firefighter since 1977. This includes 8 years on one POC FD, I moved and was a member of another POC FD for 5 years, then back on the first FD for the last 21 years. For the last 5 months I have been on a second POC FD. Just to round out my craziness I spent 7 years as a full time CFR firefighter for the WiANG, and for the last 13 years I have been a full time firefighter in the burbs of Milwaukee. I also have been a tech college fire instructor for 31 years.

    What keeps me with the department?

    I LOVE firefighting. My Dad was a volunteer on a VERY busy, very active, very close knit volunteer fire department in Illinois. I grew up around that. I spent a lot of time at the firehouse with him. When we moved to Wisconsin he was asked to join the local POC FD and he did. When I tuned 18 I followed him onto the FD. I got my Associate Degree, my certifications, became an instructor and just got deeper and deeper into it. I knew I wanted to do it for a career. But the idea of leaving my POC FD never entered my mind.

    I admit to digging the rush of going to emergencies, but that isn't what it is all about. It's about helping people, facing those challenges that no one else wants to deal with, and for the most part still being the good guy in most of the public's eye.
    Crazy, but that's how it goes
    Millions of people living as foes
    Maybe it's not too late
    To learn how to love, and forget how to hate

  5. #5
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    Appreciate the input. I too feel the same, but I guess I need to dig deeper. FyredUp, you hit on it. What is it about the POC FD that makes it different from the other departments that you wouldnt dream of leaving it? Also, tell me a little about how POC works. It is not something I am aware of in VA.

  6. #6
    Forum Member FyredUp's Avatar
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    POC FD = Paid On Call. Responding firefighters get paid for the emergency call. It may be by the call, like my #1 POC FD whee we get $12 a call no matter what the duration. Or like my #2 POC FD where we get $10 an hour while on a call.

    Sometimes the term POC and volunteer is used interchangeably but that is not truly correct. If you are paid for emergency responses you are technically a POC firefighter. A true volunteer receives no compensation of any kind for emergency response or other FD activities.

    I am not sure what makes it different. I enjoy both my career FD and my POC FDs and both have their plusses and minuses. Both have great people, as well as both have some slugs. So what makes me stay in the POC world? The people, the action, serving my community and a neighboring community where my friends and neighbors live and work. Plus the different types of calls. Barn fires, rural ops with foldatanks, far more motor vehicle accidents, more chance for mutual aid, and the weird stuff like combine fires. Perhaps a part of it is it is my roots in the fire sevice...I don't know if this answered your question or not. If not let me know and I will ty again.
    Last edited by FyredUp; 10-30-2011 at 09:59 PM.
    Crazy, but that's how it goes
    Millions of people living as foes
    Maybe it's not too late
    To learn how to love, and forget how to hate

  7. #7
    MembersZone Subscriber tree68's Avatar
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    I grew up in a household where Dad was a volunteer - both fire and later police (reserve officer). I guess you could say it's in my blood.

    I've been at it in my current department for over 30 years. Probably most inportant is that I'm here to do the job - not because all my friends are here, or because I'm getting some sort of financial (or material) reward. What I've put into the department probably outstrips what I've gotten back as far as monetary value. And I enjoy doing the job.

    I've seen people join after a fire at their house - they rarely last. They feel they "owe" it to the community, but before long their interest wanes.

    The same is often true of those who join because their buddy did.
    Opinions my own. Standard disclaimers apply.

    Everyone goes home. Safety begins with you.

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    MembersZone Subscriber LVFD301's Avatar
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    Because I know that I make a difference. A difference in both my patrons AND my firefighters lives.

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    Forum Member Miller337's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BULL321 View Post
    That's an easy question to ask. Love of the job and understanding that there is a need to serve your community.


    Plus they give you a free t-shirt and sweat shirt every year!
    What the crap. I have to pay for mine and my whites,that really bites you get a free T-shirt.

    Oh, the real question. Becouse they let me drive really cool stuff and go into burning buildings. Anyone who isn't listing that is not being totally truthful here.

  10. #10
    Forum Member DubyaVFF's Avatar
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    they let me drive really cool stuff and go into burning buildings. Anyone who isn't listing that is not being totally truthful here.
    That, and..

    Getting plenty of training opportunities, and then the occasional chance to use what I learn ("Give it to him, he just took that course!"), seems to have helped.

    Now I'm ciperhin' on what to delegate off my plate onto the new guys' plates, so they feel included.
    "I've met lots of volunteer firefighters, but I've never seen a volunteer fire!"
    - R. MacLeod, Alma VFD

  11. #11
    MembersZone Subscriber tajm611's Avatar
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    J O B S. That's about it.
    ‎"I was always taught..." Four words impacting fire service education in the most negative of ways. -Bill Carey

  12. #12
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    I've personally only been a firefighter for 4.5 years in various settings but the entire time a volunteer in my hometown. In that time I've seen some people come and go, and even a couple that have come and gone multiple times, but from what I've seen it's been for a handful reasons.

    1. They want to be a fireman/woman but in reality they're too busy with everything else in there life and have to let it go. (kids, job, etc.)
    2. They try it out and find it's not what they expected and/or just don't enjoy like they had hoped.
    3. Internal issues, the bickering, not being accepted as "one of the guys" or whatever unfortunate reason scares people away.

    People that have stayed tend to have thicker skin, enough free time to commit to the department, and a general love for the job and the pride/excitement/duty to serve.

  13. #13
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    I guess I have a genuine love for the job. I started off 11 years ago volunteering for a department near where I lived (though I didn't live in-district) as a stepping stone towards going career. Well, life sort of happens and that hasn't really ever happened for me for various reasons. I never really got my act together is what it boils down to but always kept volunteering and was one of the more active guys. I'll probably always do it. Maybe my department will go career one day and I'll go paid with them

  14. #14
    Forum Member Bones42's Avatar
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    If you have over 5 years, what keeps you on the department?
    When I figure that out...I'll give you the answer.
    "This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?

  15. #15
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    I've been volunteering for about 10 years now, with 2 different departments. I continue to do it because I enjoy helping people and my community. I also enjoy the brotherhood and the people. I'd also be lying if I said there wasn't a little bit of adrenalin when the call goes out. I'll keep doing this as long as I feel that I am able to contribute.

    The other part of the equation is why people leave. I've seen several reasons, but they fit into a few categories

    1. Time constraints: people are unable to commit the time required due to family or work oblilgations.
    2. Internal department issues: This is generally what I call the politics of volunteer houses, not feeling part of the team, not feeling like you are contributing, or just too much drama.
    3. Burn-out: This is a problem that most volunteer departments don't have, but we run so many calls that people just get burned out. Some people just get tired of the priority 3 runs to the nursing home and stop coming around and drift away.

  16. #16
    MembersZone Subscriber tree68's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eng34FF View Post
    ...not feeling part of the team,
    Or clique
    3. Burn-out: This is a problem that most volunteer departments don't have, but we run so many calls that people just get burned out. Some people just get tired of the priority 3 runs to the nursing home and stop coming around and drift away.
    Or on the other side, the folks who only show up for the "big one," leaving a dedicated few to handle the wires down calls, the minor MVA's, the cellar pumping details, etc.
    Opinions my own. Standard disclaimers apply.

    Everyone goes home. Safety begins with you.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tree68 View Post
    Or on the other side, the folks who only show up for the "big one," leaving a dedicated few to handle the wires down calls, the minor MVA's, the cellar pumping details, etc.
    Agree that this is an issue. It's a downward sprial that is difficult to get out of. People start only showing up for the big one to avoid the BS calls. That puts more stress on those running the routine things until they either quit or start cherry-picking calls, which starts the cycle over again.

  18. #18
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    42+ years here. It is the family business. I followed my dad, who followed his dad. While there was a break between my father and grandfather, my dad and I have 60+ years of continuous service. I can't imagine not being in the fire service.
    Stephen J Bourassa
    Latham FD (NY)
    member since 1969
    challenge competitor since 1993

  19. #19
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    It's not just about serving the community or the free uniform and PPE every year or the countless hours of invaluable training, the rocking housefires and MVA's... When it all comes down to it...

    It's all about knowing that after 20 years of service and sacrifice, my cable bill will be taken care of with my $200 a month retirement

    all about the benjamins baby...
    The world is a dangerous place to live, not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don't do anything about it.

  20. #20
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    What keeps me going? Its not the pay 100% volunteer. Its not the 2AM pages. Its not the firehouse politics.Its not even the tee shirts. After 25years of service I really cant nail it down to just one thing. All I know is I cant think of any reason I would want to quit.
    Dave
    Assistant Chief
    Fairmount ND



    a positive attitude may not solve all your problems,but it may annoy enough people to make it worth the effort.

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