How do you keep volunteers involved and get them to become more involved at the station such as doing trk checks. Also how do you get them to attend business meetings and training
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Thread: Keeping volunteers involved
12-03-1999, 04:19 PM #1Mark NevinFirehouse.com Guest
Keeping volunteers involved
12-07-1999, 04:53 PM #2TigerFirehouse.com Guest
If you're looking for simple answers - you picked the wrong topic. I'll just throw some random thoughts at you:
1. Volunteers need to feeel involved. Not just in the production but in the process as well. Tell me, I'll forget. Show me and I'll understand. Involve me and I'll participate with enthusiasm.
2. Being a good leader requires good followers. Your volunteers first need to have some level of self motivation. If they don't - find some that do.
They have to understand their position in both the process and the production. They need to respect the role you serve and the decisions that are made with and for them.
3. Get your priorities straight. If the volume of alarms and the other critical requirements (training) prevent them from fulfilling these other obligations - consider outsourcing the lower priority tasks to a vendor or others within your membership that don't carry the same level of responsibility. We've created new forms of membership to address just these issues.
4. Make it fun for the fire fighters and anyone else they have to bring with them. If the kids are keeping them home - encourage them to bring them along and create play activities while mom or dad to the work you need them to. Older kids make great babysitters and soon-to-be firefighters.
5. One of the key elements of effectively retaining the services of qualified volunteers is to offer a quality training program. If you don't have the means to accomplish this internally, consider outsourcing to a paid firefighter from a neighboring city. If you find the right one - they can make great instructors and your people can learn a lot from them.
6. Perhaps your department lacks discipline. Tradition or a lack there of can have a dramatic impact on your ability to maintain discipline and professionalism. This doesn't mean that you have to be more strict, mean spirited or more demanding. Putting a little professionalism into your presentation and being more disciplined about the way you conduct yourself sets the standard for everyone to achieve and follow.
The old excuse that "I'm a volunteer and I'm trying as hard as I can and therefore it's OK" just doesn't cut it any more.
I hope this conjures up some ideas of your own.
Tiger [Earl] Schmittendorf
Fire Training Coordinator/Recruiter
Erie County Division of Fire Safety
OnScene Marketing Services
"Mutual Aid for Marketing Your Fire Department"
12-08-1999, 10:17 AM #3iwood51Firehouse.com Guest
Very well put Tiger!!
You are exactly right in saying 'if they don't want to do the work, find some that will' I know there will be a barrage of comments saying that it's hard enough to find volunteers, I agree, however, I do not want to be the one in on the line with un-trained or un-qualified firefighters. The guys that only show up to a couple of trainings a year are not trained. i don't care how many years you have in the service.
I have fifteen years as a volunteer and still attend every training session that I can. Even with 15 years and having served as Captain, I can still learn a thing or two.
You have to make the guys *want* to be there not feel obligated. It's like the Tanya Tucker (trucker? ) song 'Kiss me like you want to, not like you have to'
We have minimums in place that all firefighters must make in regards to meetings, drills, etc. but you will always get the ones that make the minimum and the ones that make the maximum they can. You will be hard-pressed to find someone in the middle of those extremes (think about it and you will find that I'm right).
One thought in closing. For truck checkouts, try assigning a chief driver that is responsible for a vehicle, and give them the responsibility of checking out the truck, but also the privilege of first choice to drive for an alarm (as long as that will not delay response) and to drive for drills, parades etc. It worked for my company.
12-11-1999, 06:35 PM #4craig7404Firehouse.com Guest
good thoughts Tiger and Iwood51
One more thing to consider is the firefighters have to want to do all the litte stuff ( checking out the equipment, showing up for meeting and training ). We to have individuals assigned to each piece of equipment ( one per truck, one for scbas, one for the jaws unit etc.) and so far it is working great, no more dead batteries, plus we try to keep the families involved to, my kids sometimes even go to the calls when I go in my personal car, we have even let the kids shoot water at our training sessions so they will feel involved. My son is 12 and loves to brag to his friends that he got to help put out a fire, even though he just watched from the car. It is very important to make all members and their families feel involved.But one thing to remember is every firefighter has to want to be a firefighter,
the officers in charge can't make them want to be a firefighter.
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