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  1. #21
    Firehouse.com Guest


    Very interesting assesments that everyone has wrote here. While I agree with everything that everyone else has wrote I also feel that the "me" generation is also the generation of "give me".. Seems like they all want something that most of us "old timers" will do for free..

    Training requirements can and do cause some people to drop out. But in my dept. we've had some luch with baising the length of a members promotion on them obtaining a desired number of hours.. (Presently 40 hours of training before being allowed to run) This puts the challenge on the new member and this seems to work.. We make training classes available and its up to the new member to get thier 40 hours in. I've seen a few new members who "jumped in" with both feet and had only a 2-3 week probation and we've had others that drag it out forever, but each new member must make this decision on thier own.

    In reguards to having only 5 people on a day time call... It is normal for us to automaticaly call for mutual aid during the daytime.. Over 80% of our members work during the day, so it is not unusual for us to have only 4-6 personnel available in the area.. We have adapted our policies and made arrangments and our dispatchers will auto dispatch other departments (and will tone out as many as it takes). In the same token our other Vol departments can rely on us to do the same thing if they need the help..

    While I do agree that the age of Volunteers may be on the decline and may someday die out, I think if your departments can reach out to others in your area then at least for now "regionalization" of some form can keep things going. This is not a true "long term" solution however..

    Just my thoughts,

    James "Doc" Tarpley
    Battalion Chief
    Department Safety Officer
    North Tooele County VFD

  2. #22
    Firehouse.com Guest


    The sad and sorry truth is that society is changing, and so are the values that go along with it. The kids today are being taught that it it "okay" to bypass a person in need, that their own personal concerns are more important than the life of another.
    I teach the 8th grade, and I also Vol at a local dept (out of the school dist. that I teach in). The kids know that I am a fire fighter (especally interesting because I am a teacher and a female... lol) and they always ask why I do it. I always tell them that it is because I love to HELP people. One young man said, "well I'd just let those houses burn, and those people die, why should I care?" I said "what if it was your mother or father?" He replyed " I would want someone to help" I said "well think of those strangers as SOMEONE's mother, father, sister, brother, friend, etc. I help those people when they need some one the most." I am not sure that he understood, but he said he did.
    When I was an 8th grader just 10 years ago, I would have given a person the very shirt off my back to help them if they needed it. These kids today are being taught that it is okay to trun their backs to someone in need. This is an issue that we should ALL address that are in emergency services NOW because in just a few years these same kids are going to be the ones that are entering the work force and I can bet that the emergency services will see fewer and fewer applicants due to the lack of valuse in those entering the workforce. I hate to say it but the world of Vol firefighters. rescue personel, etc will be in great danger in the years to come if we cant trun around the attitides of these kids soon. If their parents wont, then the community must. Encourage and support your vol fire dept in fire prevention for kids and open houses. Show kids what we really do, and tell them that the next life we save might just be someone that they love. I am serious. Tell these kids that there is nothing greater than being a part of something bigger, that money doesnt last, but that the joy and pride in saving a life does. If you touch just one child, inspire just one vol, then you have made a difference for all of us in the emergency service business. Who knows, that kid might just stop and save your life some day wnere as had you not made that difference to him/her they might have let you die without a second thought.

  3. #23
    Firehouse.com Guest


    I SURE HOPE NOT. i have been chief a little more then a year . when i started we had like 12 active members left . 3 abruptly quit and joined another company across town. so we to recuit like crazy. our past chief made it hard to join and made guys jump through hoops to even get an application.now the only requirement for membership is a willingness to to join. it did ot matter if you were a women, what your last name was, a renter or your skin color i still do not care . you just agree to attend a mandated fire fighter course within 18 months of joining there are no minimium attendance requirements no manditory drills you serve because you want to .we also have to raise our own money we donot mandate attendance at theses funtions we as fire serviceleaders have made our bed now we have to lie in it .we vol. chiefs do not run our own little kingdoms.we are the servant leaders of our men .we should do all the thankless tasks that must be done to make the orginazation work. and not expect anything back .every call i thank every man for coming out its my job to encourge to lead by exampale my men .ther are no cliques in my compamy cause if one forms i break it down by reminding everyone that the guy your excluding or messig with might just have to save your life some day .i could go on ad on about this philosphy check out harrycarter.com for more thoughts on leadership. we have grow to 25 active members(guys making 30 % of our calls) we have had 10 guys complete ff1 trainig and 3 more schedledto start next month

    [This message has been edited by pfpchief (edited July 27, 2000).]

  4. #24
    Firehouse.com Guest


    I hate to say it but it might be. I'm in the Army and due to moves have served on several departments at every rank from FF to Chief. Being single I can devote ten or fifteen hours a week. A lot of guys can't. Sitting at my hometown station on leave last month I was amazed to see I was the second oldest guy on the roster at the advanced age of 32. When I was a kid the chief had 15+ years, the deputy chief (my dad)had 25+, the three captains had 15, 15, and 10, the lieutenants had 5, 10, 10. Today the chief has 20+, the lieutenants all have less than 7.

    Part of it is cost of living. You can't touch a house in town for less than 150,000. The people who can afford those houses don't volunteer, they can't because they work 80 hours a week. The other issue is we've had eleven members take jobs on city departments over the years. Their unions prohibit them from volunteering (RI is a big union state). So we lose guys with a wealth of experience. Kind of sad to see the days of the volunteer department dying out. When the day comes when I can't volunteer (can't FIND a place to volunteer) a great part of my life will be over.

  5. #25
    Firehouse.com Guest


    JJ is right on. The small town dept I first joined may have had 20 members living on the fire house block and they all worked in town either on the highway crews or in the local stores. The places I worked let me leave with pay to respond to calls. Guys would close up shop to respond, cops that were members put gear on.

    That same town 20 years later has twice as many people. Most have moved out of NY city for the country living and are not the volunteering type.

    I now live in So, Jersey outside of Philly and there is not a whole lot of people knocking down the doors to join. I have 5 years and I'm like in the top 5 on seniority, I'm out of the house 6a-6p week days home with a kid while my wife drives the other to dance of soccer. The kicker is my fire company fails to recognize the changing demographics of our town and will remove members from running calls if you do not meet a required percntage of calls, and we have paid guys on during the day to cover for volunteers.

    Surburban volunteers will be phased out for paid depts, taxes will go up, people will move to rural area, build more and the next thing you know volunteers are being phased out yada yada yada.

    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

  6. #26
    Firehouse.com Guest


    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.

  7. #27
    Firehouse.com Guest


    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.


  8. #28
    Firehouse.com Guest


    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.


    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.

  9. #29
    George Wendt, CFI
    Firehouse.com Guest


    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.


  10. #30
    Firehouse.com Guest


    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.

  11. #31
    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

  12. #32
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Thumbs up

    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.

  13. #33
    Da Sharkie
    Firehouse.com Guest


    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.

  14. #34
    Firehouse.com Guest


    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.

  15. #35
    Firehouse.com Guest


    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.


  16. #36
    Firehouse.com Guest


    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.

  17. #37
    Firehouse.com Guest


    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..

  18. #38
    Brian Dunlap
    Firehouse.com Guest


    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

  19. #39
    Firehouse.com Guest


    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?

    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

  20. #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

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