1. #26
    RyanEMVFD
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Lightbulb

    On my volunteer department, we can have up to 30 members. Of course in eight years I have never seen it that high, right now I believe we are up to 20 or so. Of those we have about 12-15 really active members that respond to majority of the calls. As the Training Officer I put all the new members though a Basic Firefighting Class that introduces them to what firetruck has what and what we do with it. Then from there I can dive deeper into more detailed training. Every new member is required to do a 90 day probation period.

    Along with everyone else we too have the problem with people not showing up. Daytime is hard since most everyone is at work. I do notice that strangers show up at fires asking if there is anything they can do to help. I don't think the age of volunteering is dying, I just think the way it is being shown to the community needs to be updated to keep up with the everchanging world. Perhaps asking for volunteers for doing something on the dept other then fighting fires. In my dept a vol mechanic would be a blessing at times along with someone volunteering to hand out cold water or something. We just need to be more creative in getting the community that supports us involved.

    The spirit is willing, but the body isn't can be said for almost any department. A electric jolt is needed, it's just hard to find the right spark. If you find a way to increase the membership of your department, pass it on so others can try.

  2. #27
    JPerkMCFD3
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Lightbulb

    I think the various messages really outline the problem well.

    Now, what are the solutions?

    Is there something we can do to create a membership / training requirement that is still compatible with today's volunteer?

    Maybe we go to a scheduled basis. You only need to respond to calls on a specific day or night or weekends. Mandated training could be offered during that time.

    Or maybe the already mentioned regionalized response is the way to go?

    Are there any creative membership types / ideas out there? I'd sure like to hear them.



    ------------------

  3. #28
    FFTrainer
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    Dying out or being forced out???

    As some have eluded to, the almighty dollar is a driving factor in today's society more than it ever has been. If Bill and Susie want their $400K house, then god bless 'em may they work hard and have it. The big house, the cars, etc tend to be the barometer of how successful one has been in life. I'm not saying that I agree, just making an observation of our society.

    In my area, as George probably knows, there have been some articles in the 'county' newspaper regarding the state of EMS volunteerism. The Battle cry is the hours of training, etc. No mention of the fire service and all our training requirements, but that is another issue.

    There was one statement that I found interesting and it was with regards to the current state of the job market and that with the apparent low rates of unemployment, towns are even more shorthanded then ever since in the past you may have had a couple extra members on hand who were home collecting unemployment instead of out of town working. Not saying that I want the bottom to drop out of the market so we can all be unemployed and able to answer volunteer calls, but I think you see my direction.

    Regionalization:

    I don't know that regionalization solves it all though, but then again I guess nothing possibly can solve everything and whatever solves the most should be given some attention.

    I am a fellow Morris County, NJ resident with George and I know some what he his mentioning about the redundancy of equipment. In some cases with in the same town!!! It has almost become that competition is the reason for purchase and not the interest of the community.

    My one concern with regionalizaton is the response time once you spread stations out. If you are unable to fill a station with a paid staff at all times, then I'm not sure you gain much other than a bigger financial base to draw from for equipment. If you still rely on the volunteer to answer calls, but now to a station further away, you are killing response time. Then again if I look at it from the other side, I come up with this question: "Is it better to KNOW that someone is definitely coming it will just take 5 - 10 more minutes or to hope that it doesn't go to multiple requests and 20 minutes pass with still the unknown state of hoping someone responds."

    This one can definitely drag on for a long battle so I'll be checking in on this one and see how it progresses from here. Right now I need some sleep so I gettin' out of here till tomorrow.

  4. #29
    George Wendt, CFI
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    Most areas will never see a municipal full-time paid department. The ultimate solution will come at the County level. However, that (at least in North Jersey) only amplifies the problem. This is the home rule capital of the world. Towns don't want municipal services consolidated at the County level because they lose a piece of the kingdom.

    County-level organization of paid and paid on-call fire fighters and EMT's makes sense. Mutual aid becomes much less of a problem. Move ups and additional companies are dispatched automatically. Response times may actually go down in some areas, as long as the stations are planned and not just plopped onto a convenient piece of municipally owned property. Apparatus placement would also be planned so as to get the 100 foot aerial out of the SFD neighborhood and into the commercial and industrial areas where they are truly needed. Surplus apparatus could then be sold to provide capital to this new venture.

    The response time issue is a non-issue. Does the family of the expectant mother really give a crap where the ambulance is coming from as long as it actually is coming? Let's see, bus from the next town over due in 8 minutes or third dispatch 20 minutes into the job with no ETA? I'll take column A, please.

    George

  5. #30
    FFTrainer
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    All very true. My fire service career originated in a state where county based systems were the way(for the most part) with additional depts. in the larger areas. It does work, but George, you mention a huge thing in your post. If they are planned(with regards to stations). You are 100% correct that if laid out properly, response times can come down. I know that where I am, there is a town that has to come through mine to get to 2 sections of theirs. Regionalization would definitely eliminate these types of situations if all of the first due areas are laid out properly.

    As I step back and look at it, I think I would rather wait the additional 5 - 8 minutes for a rig to be guaranteed to show vs. the unknown of "this is your 3rd request we will be going to mutual aid" and hoping they cover it.

    I think it's coming sooner than alot of people want to think and the point about home-rule is going to be one of the biggest arguments particularly in Morris County.

  6. #31
    1627
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Red face

    Just one quick thought. All you have to do is look at the people when you are responding to a call refusing to move out of the way of the engine with lights and siren on, or blowing past an MVA while you are trying to keep anyone else from getting hurt.

    Just my 2 cents

    ------------------
    Leon Bass
    Jr. Firefighter
    SWVFD Station 16

  7. #32
    CAP182
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Thumbs up

    fireguy57,
    i dont know your dept's situation but the only advise i can give is to help the dept. recruit new members. give you opion on how to keep these members active, weather it is having a bar-b-q for the members and there families one weekend a mth, or just having a frindly game of cards on a saturday night.

    the first thing is, if it is not fun when the call volume is down and there is nothing else to do, then they will find other things to do and lose interest in the fire dept.

    also make sure you keep the members family involved. by doing that it will take some of the heat off when that call drops in the middel of dinner. you can do this by having auxillary functions or when somthing is needed for the sta or dept get the spouses involved, if they are involved then they under stand better, and it makes it easier for them to understand.

    rember this is a brother hood. treat every one in the sta and dept like your brother and or sister and a few of your problems with keeping members will go away. if nothing else you will keep the ones who are true brothers and sisters and the glory boys will soon find there way out and you may end up with a better group than you started with.

    always rember vollies have families and they come first, and every family has room for one moor.


    rember stay safe.

  8. #33
    Da Sharkie
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    Just a little something I have noticed as weel about problems filling positions.

    It doesn't just apply to call / volunteer firefighting either. There are many full time firefighter exams / positions that are getting hard to fill. The economy is going so well that many people who would take exams are enjoying where they are now.

    Up here in Mass. I just took a new job and they are still having problems getting people to apply for the next 2 vacancies.

    The mass. civil service exam deadline was extended this fall so they could try to get more people to sign up for the exam.

    The town of Northbridge just gave a Medic Firefighter exam and only 3 people took the test.

    Luckily many of the call departments here are going very well. Not too many open vacancies and they are still adding people at a pretty good rate to fill those vacancies. Though some of the departments are losing some older, more experienced members, it is a little tougher because the state says they have to go at 65 no matter what for the most part.

    Again this is just another take on things. I'm not trying to stir the pot so to speak.

    ------------------
    I didn't do it, nobody saw me do it. You can't prove anything.

  9. #34
    mojo661
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    One of the biggest problems is that a lot of the volunteers like to tell everyone they are fire fighters but do actually fight any fires if they can help it. No disrepect for the ones that are dedicated but there is a lot of dead wood out there.

  10. #35
    WOODMAN
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    At first I was not going to wtite about this but reading every ones replies I give up my two cents.
    Sure the extra training hurts who wants to give up more time? More complex courses to take and who wants to study after being out of school after a couple of years?
    Answer we need to target the young people in our towns.The seem to complain about nothing to do,we have plenty to do at night you have to present it to them in such a way for them to understand what we do.Just lately we got 5 new people to join,yea it takes time to get them but start young and maybe you get 7 or so years out of them.
    By the way George the both of us will be in rocking chairs by the time your county or mine (Passiac)every sees any town give up home rule over a fire or police department and I do agree that if you add up the equipment in these to counties we have enough to staff a fairly good size city.


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  11. #36
    nfdvolunteer
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    You all have valid points, however, I believe people still hold the fire service in high regard. We as firefighters owe it to ourselves to enhance the image portrayed to the public. We are our best spokespeople and also our worst enemies. There are many people out there willing to join us, but they need encouragement and need to hear of the benefits of volunteering as a firefighter. We need to continuously seek out these individuals, and recruit them. Yes, the training has increased. However, it's in our best interests as well as the general public. We have all had to leave family gatherings, our children's sporting events, or other important activities, as well as our jobs. We have adjusted to constantly being "on-call" and so have our families. They have given of themselves as much as we have. Yet, we continue to do this. That must say something about the brotherhood of the firefighter as well as the future of the volunteers. Volunteers are not a dying breed. It is the responsibility of each department to keep in touch with it's members to know where the problem areas lie, and make adjustments accordingly. Flexibility is very important. Keep your chins up volunteers you do a great job and you are appreciated. Stay safe.

  12. #37
    Thomas
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    Well it seems as though too much pressure is being put on the volunteers and prospective new members primarily from training requirements. Anyone getting ready for their ISO review?

    When I joined the volunteer service, I was told that ANY time I could give would be appreciated. That still holds true to this day. That does not mean that we have suppresion members making an interior attack just because they show up. What it means is that we have different levels of membership. Very similar to what CAP182 was refering to.

    On another note, make sure the new members are given an opportunity to "test the waters" before you go out and buy gear. If they cannot meet the requirements, but still want to help, I am sure there is plenty to do at everyone's station. And make sure that the jobs/duties these people are given give them a sense of worth. You may find that someone who did not have the time to be full suppresion, suddenly has enough time-they get involved!!

    I agree that this is a real problem overall, and to some degree, within my department as well. CAP182 must be a Chief (or at least Chief material) in his/her department. It appears that he/she is all about keeping members involved!! Good Work!

    A lot of people still do not realize that most fire departments provide the training, gear, and comradarie at no out of pocket expense to them. Some of us assume that everyone outside of the fire service allready know this. Truth be known, I believed this until I went to my station and applied. I do want to state that I do tell the new people looking to join that we don't pay for their fuel to come to the station though!

    Anyway, I just thought I try and give some ideas , good luck out there fellow FF's!!!!!!


    Be safe..

  13. #38
    Brian Dunlap
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    Vounteer Fire Companies Are a Dying Breed to say the least --- Others from New Jersey Have Posted and I agree as I reside in "The Great Garden State" {Camden County } There is way too much equipment and not enough guys to operate it especially during the day-time when most members are out earning a living --- {I'm Lucky enough to make most of the day calls due to working 2nd Shift } My company personally does well during the day because we have an abundance of Night and Shift Workers but we have the same problem all Volunteer Companies Have --- MAN-POWER --- We have the ability to have two other companies toned with us from 6am to 6pm Weekdays should we receive a call for a structure fire or high hazzard alarm --- and our surronding communities can always muster up a few guys and trucks --- Mutial Aide does not solve the problems but it does help especially when the pager goes off and maybe one or two maybe three guys show up at the hall --- Then there are the "Picker-and-Chooser" Members--- You know the ones....They respond only when the call is for a structure fire, Mutial Aide 2nd Alarm to another town or Some type of call that sounds good to them .... Yet the Gas Leaks, Co Dectector calls, Wash-Downs and B.S. Investigation Calls mean nothing to them and they simply re-set the pager and go on about their business with-out giving a second thought to the fire company --- We have them as does every company --- Work and family Obligations I can understand Yeah Miss the call but to Not go simply because you don't feel like it ....WRONG .... I believe it is lazy-ness like this that in part is killing the Volunteer Fire Service -- Although not totally to blame -- Intrest in joining and maintaining membership because of ever-changing life-styles is another problem --- I personally make what I can working 2nd Shift watching my 6 month old son while my wife works day work so really the only calls I can Make are Mid-Nights and week-end calls Which I do --- And our Chief Under-Stands this ---Enough about my sob-story -- The Volunteer Fire Service is a Dying Breed but still manages to function --- God-Bless this Service I love it and wouldn't have it any other way

  14. #39
    D.SCHWER
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    For Brian Dunlop:

    Has you fire company removed any member lately for not making the required percentage of calls?

    What is the general concenus amoung you members regarding members that do not come out as often as others? Are they still of some use when they do come out for a call.? Do they maintain driver status? Is training more important than calls?



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    The views and opinions expressed herin are my personal views and opinions and not those of any organization, department I may belong to or represent

  15. #40
    Brian Dunlap
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Thumbs up

    Dave ...

    We usually don't get rid of anyone unless they are completley useless { Meaning they Don't come around at all } Our Fire Call Percentage Requirement is 20% for the year out of roughly 400-420 calls per year --- Our Chief understands that family and work come before the Firehouse and we are lucky enough to have around 35 active people right at the moment and do well even during the day

    To answer your other question about the way some guys feel about those who hardly ever come around...The emotions are mixed some complain about them but most don't ... As a whole the members of our company basicly all get along with each other both in and out of the station

    The ones that don't come out that often but do when we catch "work" are good firefighters and know their stuff it's just that on occassion they get lazy because they know that they only have to make 20% calls for the year....And yes if qualified they retain thier Driver status no reason to pull a guy out from behind the wheel if he knows the truck....Our Chief wants the guys to respond like any other company but he is also very flexible/Understanding which keeps the membership up and the trucks responding
    Even with me living in Blackwood I respond to what I can in Stratford and The Chief Understands my numbers may run low from time to time because of the 4 mile travel to the hall -- Most of the time I don't make the trucks but on occassion I make third or fourth out --- Mid-Night Calls 2nd Out most of the time --- Too many Politics in Gloucester Twp. for me to want to get involved --- ...Am I right or Wrong... Please correct me if I'm Wrong ...Stay safe out there .....BD/64-1

  16. #41
    391HD
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    Indeed an interesting topic!
    I joined the volunteer fire service in the early '80s at age 18. Back then, "America was burning", namely here in the north, the use of wood burning heating sources created most of the problem.
    Since that time, call volume has drastically been reduced.
    I think today, it is difficult to retain young, new members that go through all of the training, only to use their skills on several occasions during the course of a year.
    And for seasoned veterans like myself, as time goes on, you discover exactly who the fire service is exactly for: the insurance companies. Every fire dept. in this country, throughout time, was organized through either the direct of indirect influence of an insurance company somewhere. Even today ISO standards still play a big role in how the fire service operates and acquires equipment. And who is benefiting? The insurance companies of course. The taxpayer is either paying a higher premium, or supporting the fire service for bigger, better equipment.
    The idea of civic service and helping out the community just doesn't do it for me any longer. I have long decided, that I WILL not risk my life, attempting to save replaceable property for an insurance company. As far as life safety, the only person that I responded to trapped in a burning building, was dead long before we were even notified, and this problem needs to be addressed with public safety education and a community based smoke detector placement/maintenance program.
    I agree with other posts, that regionalization is the way to go. I have now shifted my focus toward EMS, and feel that I'm providing more of a community service.

  17. #42
    WOODMAN
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    For D.Schwwer,

    So foe putting my two cents in but correct me if I am wrong,Your dept has kicked someone
    off or is going to for not making a percentage of the alarms?
    I am not to sure that they can unless buried
    in the department by-laws allow for it or the
    town has some crazy ruling to that effect.I
    know that the state has no such ruling that I know of unless it got passed at the convention at Wildwood,which it self is a waste of time,
    I would take a person who can give us any amount of time then no one.Good luck.

  18. #43
    FFTrainer
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Red face

    Woodman --

    About the only thing in NJ policies regarding percentages is the 60% rule for earning your exemption with the State Relief Association. In that, there is no grounds for dismissal due to low percentage you simply don't get credit for the year you were below 60% so it may take you longer to earn your 7 years for exemption. Not to mention this is for overall participation not just alarms.

    Unless they only show up at the station 1 time per year, I think you have a hard time kicking someone out. In today's volunteer situation, people have their own life issues such as work, kids, family illness, etc. I know alot of guys that would love to give more time at the station, but it's just not possible so they do what is possible for them and that is all I ever ask for.

    PS, there Woodman, I read another post of yours -- watch out for those goats man!!!!

  19. #44
    George Wendt, CFI
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Thumbs down

    39, are you kidding me? You cannot be serious. The insurance companies?

    We go in and put the fire out to stop the fire and save as much "replacable property" as we can because mixed in with the "replacable property" is usually irreplacable property. Stuff that no insurance company in the world could replace. Photos of deceased family members, precious antiques, fruits of someone's labor. These are things that may have no value to your cold heart, but to our customers, no price tag can be placed on them.

    I'm glad you have found a niche in EMS, because your usefulness to the fire service is over. Burnout is a terrible thing.

  20. #45
    Fireguy57
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    For anyone:

    A company can actually kick members out for not meeting a specific number of calls?

    WOW!~ Most of our station would be kicked out.......

  21. #46
    WOODMAN
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Wink

    For Fireguy57

    You can not truely kick someone out for not showing up,but you can make life hard for them so they dont show upIt sort of depends
    on the company makeup I guess.I belive if the show up at all the can be of some use to
    me on the fireground other companies don't
    have any use for them.

    For FF Trainer,
    You are correct about that 60%rule which I
    dont care for myself,but I have had my run ins with those boys in East Orange and the whole convention thing is a pain trying to cover the town when everyone goes to Wildwood
    When floyd came last year is was bad enough and we did not all the problems some towns did.But sometimes I wished I could toss some people off but can't so I live with it.
    The pig was harder to get then the goat

    [This message has been edited by WOODMAN (edited August 23, 2000).]

  22. #47
    WOODMAN
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Wink



    [This message has been edited by WOODMAN (edited August 23, 2000).]

  23. #48
    D.SCHWER
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Thumbs down

    True, my company has outdated by laws on attendance. And it not a yearly percentage, it quarterly. If you fail to maintain 25% over a 3 month period the membership committee without a company vote put you on probation for 3 months, where you need to maintain 25%. Then you are taken off active status and have your gear and pager pulled and need to wait 6 months before appling for membership again. You can appeal but in my case I was blown off with no hearing.

    What is really stupid is that day time calls go against me while I am at work. Up until my inactivation I had attended all mandatory drills including my annual live burn, and attended 36 hours of schools over my probation period and for a 5 month period had maintained 24%

    Then the fire company turns around and places a sign out in front for members needed. Go figure

    It gets more complicated, I am a fire commissioner now and the fire company did not support me. Can you spell POLITICS.
    If there is anyone from my fire company reading these posts, take note you have to change with the times.


    ------------------
    The views and opinions expressed herin are my personal views and opinions and not those of any organization, department I may belong to or represent

    [This message has been edited by D.SCHWER (edited August 23, 2000).]

  24. #49
    Brian Dunlap
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Exclamation

    For Dave S. {Erial},

    you hit the nail on the head my friend when you say POLLITICS !!! That is what the Volunteer Fire Service is somewhat based on these days {I'm sad to report } There are individuals out there who get into power in the fire company and pretend to run a business of dollar signs and messed up rules....Instead of what we are actually here for...Protecting life and property...I had the chance and even considered joining with a Gloucester Twp. Company when I moved to the Township a year and a half ago but after finding out that even after being an active firefighter for 10 years I would not even be allowed to wear an air pack for six months at one company, not allowed to ride the ladder truck at another company, all the while being required to maintain a percentage that was just not going to happen...the word they have to remember is VOLUNTEER We give what we can when we can In our area I'm sure you see signs in front of alot of the halls asking for volunteers...Yes people join but find out the rules and quit or get tossed out ....No wonder our county can't keep it's volunteer roles up....Did you ever see attendance at a Camden County Firemen's Association Meeting ? Now I haven't been to one in a few years but when I was attending regulary it was low because in general the morale in this county is low....I'm quite happy with my company in Stratford our rules are easy to live by and our chief is a fair man...

    One other question I ask you why would calls during the day count against a member of 8-6 when there are paid firefighters in the station ? Sound like some rules need to change...When we are working our chief drops the percentage completley during you set work hours and takes no credit away while you are at work......

  25. #50
    WOODMAN
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post

    For D.Schwer
    I would if I was you would be to contact your
    county rep.to the state firemans assoc. every
    county in NJ has one and make an appeal to him if he blows you off take it to the next level which is to the office of the president in East Orange.State laws and rules
    state their is no minium of alarms that need to be made unless you take into account the
    60%rule which does not apply here.
    The president of the state assoc.to which every dept.belongs to is Frank Bachino,not
    sure on the spelling of the last name,if you need some numbers email me or FFTrainer one of us will get them.
    I heard of stuff like this happening years ago but that is when departments had a waitinglist to got on a mile long.
    Good luck and let me know if you need any help.

    Tom


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