Thread: Membership down
06-09-2001, 06:39 PM #1NFDLT55Firehouse.com Guest
As we all know, Volunteer membership is down to an all time low, which obviously poses a problem. How are we to correct this? Any ideas? Any good ways to market being a volunteer as most people dont really care?
Any POSITIVE suggestions welcome-
Thanks a lot.
06-09-2001, 09:56 PM #2APG1Firehouse.com Guest
Staffing problems. *mutter* Go figure, I live in the one freaking town in the country with a waiting list to get on.
Unable to volenteer at the firehouse 3 miles away, or the one 8 miles away. -APG1
06-12-2001, 07:53 PM #3Co11FireChicFirehouse.com Guest
Hmmm...wish I did have ideas but, I don't. It seems that we have hardly anyone left. The only people who seem to even run calls at our station are the line officers. That's 6 people...yikes...
06-13-2001, 01:54 AM #4eyecueFirehouse.com Guest
Lower the age to get on.
Appeal to housewives.
start a recruiting and P.R. campaign
06-13-2001, 11:25 AM #5N2DFireFirehouse.com Guest
How about scare tactics ??
Simply have a membership drive, open house, radio ad's, TV ad's or something to get the message out to the people you serve that simply stated says We need people or we won't be able to respond to your calls for help.
O.k. so maybe you should have a more tactfully worded message, but you get the idea.
And belive me can I relate to your situation. The county I run in gave us the following numbers at a recent meeting we had to discuss this topic.
Year Calls Active Members
1990 4,026 602
1995 6,386 460
2000 7,254 252
as you can see we are becoming very familiar with the concept of doing more with less.
I forget who made the statement, but my favorite quote is . . .
"We have done so much with so litle for so long that now we can do anything with nothing forever."
Who ever it was hadda been in Fire\EMS
As for positive suggestions - I have heard other areas try such things as pay per call, retirement plans, anything to make it "worth your while" for someone to join.
This is an issue that affects us all and I wish you the best of luck in finding a solution that works for you.
Take Care - Stay safe
06-13-2001, 12:05 PM #6Lewiston2CaptFirehouse.com Guest
the problem I can see with retirement plans is the in this impatient, instant gratification society the money they MIGHT see when they are 65 just isnt enough incentive. In NYS we get $480 for every year of credited service. By the time I retire I will have been in the dept for 45 years. That will give me $21,600, not a tiny sum of money but it isnt huge either.
We too are struggling with the same problem especially in the day time. We do an open house/membership drive in October to coincide with Fire Prevention Week. We use phrases like "Help Us Help You" and "Help us Be there for you" with minimal resullts. Our state senator is attempting to put together a college reimbursement for emergency service volunteers. A college student that is also a volunteer FF or in a volunteer rescue squad/ambulance corp would be able to get reimbursed for up to $3400 in tuition. It is expected to recruit an additional 150 volunteers state wide. Every little bit helps I guess.
Some other benefits for volunteers I would like to see is state income tax credits, property tax credits, and home mortgage incentives. Encourage people to stay in the area and help their community. It may involve a massive letter writing campaign to our state representatives to get this ball rolling.
Shawn M. Cecula
Lewiston Fire Co. No. 2
06-13-2001, 12:47 PM #7Bob SnyderFirehouse.com Guest
>> Some other benefits for volunteers I would like to see is state income tax credits, property tax credits, and home mortgage incentives. Encourage people to stay in the area and help their community.
I think Shawn hit the nail right on the head. Let's face it, folks, the days of the truly volulunteer fire company (where the only incentive is the work itself) are just about over. Those of us still in these companies are part of one of the last generations that will even see this phenomenon first hand. My prediction for the week.
I read an article a few weeks ago that talked about the rise in suicides and attempts in the Silicon Valley since the (inevitable) burst of the dot-com bubble, and it says something to our predicament, too. The writer pointed out that the generation currently in their 20s have never really seen a recession and have never needed to face a tight job market. Many have never known real failure at anything in their adult lives and, as adults, have rarely, if ever, needed or wanted anything they couldn't easily buy or get someone else to do for them. Many have the impression that every service is readily available and every product easy to access. Even worse, a significant number believe that they'll be compensated for everything up to, and sometimes including, getting out of bed in the morning.
And, it's not just the (now ex-) dot-com millionaires and web developers affected by this. Ask people who manage younger employees...I've seen this myself first hand...and they'll tell you that many today expect not only to be paid, but to be specifically appreciated, for showing up to work somewhere close to on time and then getting close to meeting their minimal job requirements. These are not people who are going to even think about, let alone seek to be active in, volunteer organizations that are fundamentally about "going the extra mile".
Maybe reality is in the process of crashing down around some of the folks I'm talking about...maybe not. Either way, we need to start thinking like them, no matter how depressing and disgusting it might be to us, if we want to keep the volunteer service alive at least a litle bit longer.
Oh, sure, the good ones are still out there, and you see some of them on these forums, as juniors and as young volunteers, but there are less and less of them all the time. There certainly don't seem to be enough to keep us going for long. I'm just hoping there's enough that we stay around long enough for me to be one of those cranky old drivers with 45 years in and counting.
I'm not holding my breath.
06-14-2001, 01:40 AM #8CollegeBuffFirehouse.com Guest
So my generation hasn't fought a war yet. Big deal. Quit raggin on us. We do more VOLUNTEER work than any generation previous. Yeah, a lot of us got sucked in by the promises in the late 90's of high five-figures straight out of college. Yeah, some kids in my high school wrapped their cars around a tree one weekend and had a new one in time for the next. That doesn't change the fact that 95% of us haven't forgotten where we come from and that we have a responsibilty to make our communities a better place for everyone. Some of us choose the emergency services as the way to do this. Some don't. It's not for everybody. There's a lot of reasons why recruitment in volunteer departments is down. Going right after the younger set is pointing your guns in the wrong direction.
06-14-2001, 01:15 PM #9Bob SnyderFirehouse.com Guest
>> So my generation hasn't fought a war yet. Big deal. Quit raggin on us.
I haven't either...hope you never have to. I'm not as old as you think I am.
>> We do more VOLUNTEER work than any generation previous.
You know, I keep hearing and seeing this statement being thrown around, and yet I can't seem to find any volunteer or civic organizations anywhere near me that have experienced (or will admit to experiencing??) any lasting increase in volunteerism at all (regardless of age group, to be fair). There are some that see a TRANSIENT increase in volunteerism, in the form of high school kids who are required to complete community service during their junior or senior year of school, but the concensus seems to be that few last after the paperwork is signed to give them their credits. Being an applied statistician by training, I have to wonder if the study evidence of this alleged increase in volunteerism, if there is any, isn't suffering from a bias of some sort (I recognize that my evidence is un-scientific as well). To answer this question, I need to see some actual study evidence and evaluate its validity. Anybody know where I can find some?? I'm not just being a smartass...I really want to know. If it's out there, it could contain a clue as to what pushes the buttons of these people that could be useful in recruiting.
>> Some of us choose the emergency services as the way to do this. Some don't. It's not for everybody.
That's absolutely a true statement. No argument here.
>> There's a lot of reasons why recruitment in volunteer departments is down. Going right after the younger set is pointing your guns in the wrong direction.
Then where should I aim?? I'm really not placing "blame", I'm simply making observations about behavior and trying to infer the best strategy and tactics to adjust or exploit that behavior. The under 30 age group is clearly what's critical here. They are the people who we have to reach somehow and they are the people who have to step up to fill the gaps left by the aging of the rest of us...if the volunteer service is going to be viable in the long run.
Face it...it's a free market world. A lot of people are asking the wrong questions, in my opinion, trying to appeal to civic responsibility. That whole concept is noble and appealing on an emotional level, but it's also becoming a bit quaint and unrealistic in this society today. As such, it's probably not as useful in looking for ways to increase our membership as simple economics would be. I'm simply trying to ask what might motivate the demographic group we're interested in. If the answer turns out to be cool perks and financial incentives, then we have the choice of either responding to that and offering what these free market participants want, or being relegated to the status of "historical curiosity" by that same free market. Some of the most successful stations I know of in terms of recruiting got that way by setting up mini health clubs, arcade/entertainment areas, and other such perks right in their stations and then advertising them to high school kids as free only to members. Just something to think about...
06-14-2001, 02:30 PM #10Lewiston2CaptFirehouse.com Guest
CollegeBuff, I too am in the demographic that Bob is talking about and fortunately my FD has managed to recruit more of the younger crowd than those older than 30, partly because many of us grew up in the FD and brought friends in with us. The unfortunate part is that they a very transient group. Retention is quite difficult. I cant get specific but generally we count ourselves lucky if we can hold on to a new member longer than 6 months to a year. I think that part of it is the general cycle of things. Right now we are at a low point. I just hope that we dont stay here long.
I think we can use the "bribes" to get them in and hope that their first call will hook 'em. The civic duty line isnt going to cut it anymore. People want to know how they are going to benefit from comming home from work, hoping to inhale dinner before getting a call, having to go to the ever increasing amount of required classes, or satisfying one of the many other obligations that goes with volunteering. If they are lucky they will get to spend some time at home with their families. I say make it worth their while, our survival depends on it.
Shawn M. Cecula
Lewiston Fire Co. No. 2
06-14-2001, 02:32 PM #11Fire/Rescue43Firehouse.com Guest
My department is located in one of the fastest growing area's of Northeastern Pennsylvania, our population has doubled in the last ten years. A large percentage of our new residence commute dailiy to Metropolitian New York and New Jersey. Along with this is the misconception by some of our residents that we are paid. If we had 1% of the population as volunteers we'd have 170+ memebers, but reality is that we have only 50.
Things that we have done to help bring in some new members that have worked for us are.
A strong Jr program, we recruit in the local high school for Jr's, and while we loose some after graduation from High School some do remain in the company. Jr's can't fight fire, but having extra hands to change cylinders, assist the pump operator, help in re-hab or run equipment helps when man power is short.
We offer a flexible drill schedule, we have drills on Tuesday nigths and Sunday mornings.
We pay for training, members can take away classes and as long as they pass the course the company will pay for tuition, hotel, food, gas.
We have modified our probationary requirements for members who are transfering from other departmetns. This is based on their level of training, years experience, etc. A large percentage of our "new members" have prior experience.
We try to stay in the public eye, attending community events, drilling in diffrent area's of our responce area. Inviteing the press to drills, and always puting out the message we are looking for volunteers.
Right now we are looking at a fuel reimbusement due to the high cost of gasoline. Its not so much an incentive to get new members but keep the ones we have responding.
Its a problem that is going to get worse, I hope the Pennsylvania and other state legislatures will respond with some larger incentives, retirement benifits, tax breaks, etc.
06-14-2001, 11:09 PM #12ken janisFirehouse.com Guest
Volunteer retention is and has been a problem since people starting commuting to work. The days of living and working in the same town are over. This is todays volunteer fire service. In Pennsylvania, 30 active members is normal for an average size town. 10,000 residents or so. I feel fortunate that we have 48 members.
I recently spoke with a Chief of a combination department. He pays his firefighters to respond to calls from the town budget. He is not able to keep them for a year or more. It's not the money, firefighters with the desire to serve their fellow firefighters and community will do it for free. Retaining volunteers with money per call in my opinion is not the answer.
Going back to our roots may rekindle the volunteer fire service. You must address the issues in your fire house first.
* Are you losing members because of fund raising?
* Are your members moving away because of work?
* Are your members proud to be apart of the Fire Service?
Simple questions with hundreds of answers, no doubt.
My Fire Department went back to our roots and regrouped. A change in Chief, new Company officers with new ideas. We started a fund raising letter drive using a professional company. This allowed us to halt all but 2 other fund raising events. This strategy took seven years to get where we are today.
If you focus on a single task at a time, the rest will follow.
* We solved our internal firehouse problems first, ask questions of the members and get everyone on board the bus.
* We solved our money problems second, bring in a financial adviser, most will help you out for free, Merrill Lynch, Solomon Smith Barney, your local bank branch manager, etc.
* Our weekend activities third, give your volunteers back their weekends to spend with their families.
* We negotiatated with the Township for additional funding was fourth. (If you are able to lessen the stress of funding the Department, everything else will seem easy to you.)
Do not do this alone. One person does not make a Company/Department. Let the Chief be Fire Chief. Let the President be Company President and their officers do their "elected" jobs. Get the other volunteers involved during this change and watch the spirits go up. Once the members themselves realize how good it has become, new interest in citizens becoming members will follow.
Do not overlook other groups in your town for recruiting, Loins clubs, citizens groups, boy scouts,local high schools, etc. Ask to speak at one of their meetings about fire safety and recruitment. You might even get a free meal for speaking.
It is going to be hard to return to our roots. The fire companies across this country use to be the hub of local society. Somewhere we lost that. We need to get it back and your recruitment problems and money problems will lessen. And the residents will once again be asking for YOUR opinion on how to get things done.
Throughout this change, "If it is only good for one person - don't do it. If it is good for the entire Company - do it!"
I greatly appreciate everyones involvement in this forum. I have learned alot in a short amount of time and realized that we all have the same problems.
ideas expressed & posted in the forum(s) are my own.
06-15-2001, 01:55 AM #13CollegeBuffFirehouse.com Guest
You know, I keep hearing and seeing this statement being thrown around, and yet I can't seem to find any volunteer or civic organizations anywhere near me that have experienced (or will admit to experiencing??) any lasting increase in volunteerism at all
There are some that see a TRANSIENT increase in volunteerism, in the form of high school kids who are required to complete community service during their junior or senior year of school, but the concensus seems to be that few last after the paperwork is signed to give them their credits.
Then come on up to the Greater Worcester area and ask some of the organizations who've interacted with the 500+ members of my school's community service club. No mandatory service here. Just hundreds of kids doing everything from working soup kitchens to running after-school programs for underprivelaged kids in the Worcester school system.
Some of the most successful stations I know of in terms of recruiting got that way by setting up mini health clubs, arcade/entertainment areas, and other such perks right in their stations and then advertising them to high school kids as free only to members. Just something to think about...
Then don't complain when you get people who want blue lights and bragging rights. Or worse, torch something when you don't get enough runs. Something to think about before you go running out to buy video games and free weights.....
[This message has been edited by CollegeBuff (edited 06-15-2001).]
06-15-2001, 12:09 PM #14FiRsqDvr45Firehouse.com Guest
From one Newington to the next...
The FEMA Fire Administration website has a few free books that may be worth grabbing to help with the issues you raised. One is titled Recruitment and Retention in the Fire Service (or something like that), the other one is Strategies for Marketing your Fire Department Today and Beyond. Cracking open these books was like striking a match in a dark room for me, tons of great ideas and such.
Try getting in touch with the Boy Scouts of America and your local High School about starting an Explorer Program (or Junior Firefighter/Cadet Program)to start training the members of tomorrow now.
Check with Local cable access programs who may be willing to do something for you like a commercial, or even a full talk show or "meet the FD" segment.
Nothing can help out like getting out into the community and meeting people. Church suppers, civic orginization function, and town meetings prove to be a great time to get out and talk to the people, explain the department to them, answer questions, dispell misconceptions,present safety talks and info, and recruit new members.
I have been shocked to learn that a portion of our community doesn't have a clue what our real situation is concerning manning, budget issues, apparatus, and in one case a resident didn't even know we existed.(He thought the next city over was the department that came if he called for help!)The only one to blame is ourselves for this lack of knowledge.
To change this our department members have recently started a "PIER" program to touch not only on getting new members but also getting out in the public and share knowledge, training, and such. (PIER stands for Public Informaton,Education and Relations). These areas in our community (Newington were I work as opposed to the fabulous programs here in Dover where I live)were neglected for many years and we feel it is time to get out there again.
Instead of doing our annual pancake breakfast and open house this year for FPW we as the membership have decided to go from a singular event to a yearly process. One of our shopping malls has gotten in touch with the Newington Firefighters Association and the Professional Firefighters of Newington Local 4104 about donating a store front during FPW for us to deliver programs and such to the thousands of guests that pass through every day. As our department has a total staffing of around 16 including the 6 FT personnel we have decided to get other area departments involved to help man the store and also draw upon the brains of many others people to help make things more dynamic. As we get closer to the event I will try to let people who are interested in what we have decided to do and also how well it works out.( We will still do the breakfast.)We also are going to examine some available programs we have for use in the town's elementary school to see if we can use it on a weekly or bi-weekly level instead of a one time thing. Some of our members will begin not only trying to teach in the school but take their lunch breaks during the school lunch sessions so we can be with the kids as positive roile models. (Our staion is next door to the school so it won't hurt responses.)
Good luck LT55!
FF/EMT Jay Ellingson
New England Dragway Safety Team (Sundaaayy!)
*N.E.D. celebrates 35 years of excitement as a drag racing venue! Come on by and watch the great action at RT27 Epping, NH (Exit 8 off of Rt 101)*
New England Dragway is the home of the IHRA North American Nationals
Sept 7-9 2001
06-20-2001, 08:36 PM #15CaptainWagon2Firehouse.com Guest
Start a Recruitment and Retention Committiee. I know if your firehouse is anything like ours...Very few committiees get anything done BUT..This is one that Has nothing but a POSITIVE IMPACT. You can goto FEMA or NFA website and goto their online store..Have them send you the Recruitment and Retention book Available for FREE...It was written and put together by Vol. organizations and deals with Just about every problem a Volunteer Organization has. PLUS it leads you in the direction to FIX that..We have had great success with this book. And it woke us up before things got to bad.
06-20-2001, 10:20 PM #16Dalmatian90Firehouse.com Guest
Ken Janis' post above is one of the best I've ever read on these forums.
It takes a lot of work, by many people, over many years to make a great organization.
I'm fortunate to volunteer for such an organization, Mortlake Fire Company, and I wish sometimes I could summarize what we do, or bottle it up somehow.
We were founded back in 1927, and re-organized in 1947 by Chief Robert Field, whose first actions p*ssed off a lot of the members, indeed half the department quit and he was Chief for only a couple years. But he cleaned up the firehouse, banning gambling and alcohol. And he established what serves as our company motto -- "There's nothing that a group of men can't accomplish when they decide in their minds to do it."
We've had some very active Chiefs -- following Chief Field was Chief A. Morrison Ennis, who chaired the first NFPA Committee on Rural Fire Protection. Chief Ennis also brought dump tanks and large diameter hose to the U.S. in the early 50s, and led the way in the development of the first modern tanker specs -- such as full flow piping tank to pump. He was followed by Chief Rudy Rzezniekwicz who was the first volunteer member of the State Drillmasters (Fire Instructors) Association.
We continue to open to grow. We adopted EMS early, with resuscitators in the 60s and EMTs by 1975.
As the volunteer-staffed ambulance we relied on was having increasing problems staffing, we made a decision to establish our own volunteer ambulance in 1990 -- cutting on average 15-20 minutes off 911 to Hospital times for patients from our town. From the beginning the goal was for the ambulance to be self-supporting from billing, a first in our area. Yes, it can be a challenge to staff the rig sometimes especially when we're having a lot of BS calls -- but we've recently redoubled our internal efforts to properly and fairly schedule people. Fortunately we can still fairly say we've covered the now predominantly paid ambulances in two of our neighboring towns ten times for every time they've had to cover us over the last decade.
The EMS aspect will probably eventually introduce a combination service here -- not something we feel we need to do yet, but a real enough possibilty we have discussed the forms it may take. Proud of our past, but always willing to look to the future.
In 1995 we broke another of the fire service taboos -- we merged. The West Wauregan Fire Company protected a small area of town, with well trained personnel but few calls. It simply made sense to merge and one Chief and set of officers could handle both stations instead of having two sets of officers duplicating the efforts in training, sops, and purchasing. Let's be honest, we where the big fish gobbling the small fish, but it was handled with the most respect possible. And to this day we letter apparatus in that station as "Mortlake Fire Co., West Wauregan, Conn." and the sign in front says the same to remember their heritage. Move forward, respect the past.
In 2000 we expanded once more, taking over the ambulance territory for the Town of Pomfret at the request and cooperation of the Pomfret Fire Department -- it added another 175 calls a year to our service, but we also gained a 9 EMTs who contribute regularly. Now our two departments work very closely together, even drill frequently and have cross-trained on extrication tools. Which is very amazing, since less than a decade ago we *would* not be called to Pomfret come hell or high water, and Pomfret would've only come south if we where desperate for tankers. But water passes under a bridge and you go on.
Also in 2000 we had the Town appropriate $550,000 for a new ladder truck. No one even 5 years ago would've thought we'd ever see such a thing. But we've worked with the Town since 1970 to develop regular, consistent budgets. Moved from buying trucks as an expense to having a capital plan that shows the Town expected outlays for trucks over the next 25 years at any given time. Endured 12 years from 1988 to 2000 of level funding (no increase in operating funds). But the pay off of having good fire service -- town relations and good Selectmen and Board of Finance members who have developed a good long range plan, was having the Town leaders approach the fire company -- "ya know, your due to buy a used ladder in 2005 for $250,000." "But," said the Town,"we're anticipating a major school update going on about then nd won't be able to afford it. However, we're going into a slack period on our bonds this year and would like to put a new ladder as part of a million dollar bond...and then we don't have worry about another ladder for 30 years." Long term, consistent plans.
Do we have more turnover then I like? Yep. We've gotten better though.
Is it hard work? Yep. We still fund-raise a bit (confined to three major fund-raisers in July, August, and September). A lot of training. We make a general information mailing twice a year or so...plus our July fundraiser is a Chicken BBQ we canvas our whole district door to door selling the 2200 tickets -- talk about oppurtonities to meet and introduce the fire company to new residents (and hand them an informational sheet!)
A lot of time trying to smooth hard feelings when people perceive a slight -- or as I sometimes have to resort to, "It wasn't deliberate." (Actually I use a more colorful explanation, but it doesn't type well )
What's the point to this rambling? Problems don't solve themselves overnight. They take a lot of consistent work by many people over time.
Make sure you get your house in order. Make sure people feel needed, useful, and respected. Keep good relations with the community. Let them know how you're organized.
No, I can't explain all of it, nor can I bottle it. But when I joined in 1987 we had 35 members, one station, 4 trucks, and a 3 year wait to be issued a pager.
Today we have 75 active members staffing 2 stations, an administrative office building, 6 pieces of apparatus,a Haz-Mat trailer, and 2 ambulances. 36 of the members are interior firefighting certified, and 45 of the members have either First Responder or EMT certification. Financially we are in good shape now -- everyone gets a pager after there intial Probationary Training Session.
We enjoy today the foundation laid for us by our predecessors -- maybe you can't turn your department around overnight, but it can be done. Once a group of people set their minds to it, it can be done.
06-21-2001, 12:39 PM #17Lewiston2CaptFirehouse.com Guest
I know where you are coming from. We too are having tough manpower times. However something I have observed is that too much mutual aid is not a good thing. It kills the moral of the few people you do have left if the only thing they turn out for is to call for/ watch the mutual aid take the job. It also hurts company pride, not to mention public confidence in the fire department.
Sometimes the companies being relied on to provide mutual aid become resentful. Dont get me wrong mutual aid is a good thing, but you know what they say about too much of a good thing.
As far as solutions, I dont have any quick fixes. It takes about 1 year for a new member to become a viable interior firefighter, and about 1.5 years for a new member to become a working EMT. Unfortunately I dont have any good ideas of how to turn this thing around. Maybe if we keep this thread going we will be able to save the volunteer fire service.
Its worth a try at least.
Shawn M. Cecula
Lewiston Fire Co. No. 2
06-21-2001, 02:10 PM #18Firefighter430Firehouse.com Guest
I'm the chief of a small rural fire department in southside Virginia. Several yaers ago when I took the job of President of the department we weeded the roster so to speak and cleaned out the "do nothing" members and that upset some people. They said that we couldn't afford to loose people. My come back to that was "What have you lost!". Sometimes you have to clean house and start new.
I have made a recruitment and retension handout that can be handed out to prospective members. It's a new thing now but I was told that it worked in other departments. It tells what the dept. stands for and about waht it takes to be a member and who to get in touch with if you want to join. I try to get the department in the news paper when it does things in the community.
Right now we are targeting young members but we need the 30+ members also. The young members are hard to hold on to. At 16 they have a car, girlfriend, and school. Add the fire department to the mix and see which one ends up on the bottom of the list.
We have 26 members on the roster now and I would like to see 40. I have been told that it runs in cycles. Back in the 50 & 60 the membership was just the line officers and thats it. If you came to a Dec. meeting you were elected as a line officer. I pray that it does not get that low now but who knows.
Getting new members in is not a overnight thing. It may take years. I think you have to try alot of things and find out what works in your area.
06-29-2001, 10:34 AM #19
Let me clarify. What I am saying is that when another companies apparatus spends more time operating in your area than yours does it can have a negative impact on the attitude in your company. Believe me I know. We will not respond a vehicle unless it has a full crew of at least 4 people. All personnel respond to the station so, if we have 3 people at the station, they call another company and hear them take care of the call we should have been able to handle.
I am not against mutual aid. In Niagara County we have a very good working relationship with many of our surrounding companies. If we need help I dont hesitate to call for it. But, when we begin recieving more help than we can offer animosity can build. That animosity can hinder fireground operations. I am not saying to let pride keep you from calling for mutual aid. I am saying that you should be aware of the fact that continually relying on others for mutual aid can cause a poor attitude in house. I say this so that you can keep your eye out for it and take care of it before it starts to take care of you.Shawn M. Cecula
IACOJ Division of Fire and EMS
06-29-2001, 11:47 AM #20
- Join Date
- Aug 2000
- Richland, Pennsylvania
Volunteerism, as has been said previously, is a lost art. We have a dedicated group of at least 20-25 firefighters, we find that our problem lies within the fundraising aspect. There is a group of 6 firefighters, who actaully get involved with the fundraising, and for some reason, most of the town, which is at least 65% senior citizian, don't think they have a reason to help. But, when those few people get burned out, then what will we do? Something has to change, because if it doesn't, what is a town with 65 calls going to do? Mutual aid is 5-8 minutes away, and the call volume isn't enough to become paid......something needs to change in the fire service and fast...Neptune 33
06-29-2001, 12:41 PM #21
- Join Date
- Nov 2000
- Plymouth, MI
I don't know much about the fire service, I'm just a college student hoping to become a volunteer one day.
In my area (Southeast Michigan) we are a metro area. What this means is that alot of people assume that all the departments are fully paid. What they don't realize is that you don't have to get too far outside of Detroit before you have combo departments and volunteer departments. In fact, the city north of me (staffed 6am-6pm by paid, the rest on call) put out a millage to hire more full time guys. It was the first time that many residents even realized their half million dollar homes were protected by a combo department. It seems that a little PR could help with recruitment. It was brought up that the recruitment info only gets shown on the government access tv channel. Not a whole lot of young folks watching that.
07-03-2001, 01:33 AM #22
- Join Date
- Jun 2001
- 'bedrock' LI, NY
No quick fix, that's for sure. How many times have you gone on fund drive call backs, or tried to solicit buck$ from the people you serve, and SLAMed doors await you. "Oh, then what the hell do i pay taxes for?" or one of my fav's, "It's a (religious) holiday, and we don't donate money on ------- holidays." Are these people for real? And yet when their little house-sies go on fire, what number do they call? These are also the same people that don't get out of your way when you're responding to a call. The ones that ask 'What took you so long?' When in the mean time you got there within five min's of receipt of the alarm!!!!! I know that aspect is different throughout the country, because while visiting the inlaws in PA, the locals had a call, and people virtually drove off the road, into ditches and trees to get out of the way for their 'unpaid profesionals'.
What should be done? Fed / state / local Tax breaks, property tax cuts, what else? Will it ever happen??????????
Another thing is, why do people volunteer & keep volunteering? We know it ain't for the fire duty (atleast not in my town). Is it for the comraderie that can come in certain companies / departments??? The 'it's a guy thing' syndrome? The kid in almost all of us? Or the helping the community thing?
It's not easy because there are trainings that you HAVE to attend, as well as work nights, meetings, calls, . . . it's very time consuming - but we all know this - we volunteer. Time away from our family and friends, away from our buisnesses and actual jobs (at times), it's not easy but yet, we do it for free. Giving of self and sometimes paying the ultimate price, but for what . . . our neighbor. The same one who doesn't see the sacrifices that we make, and maybe that is where we should start. Showing that we do more than just run around town with lights flashing and sirens blaring. Seeing the people at their worst - despair, tradgedy, crisis. You name it. Car accidents, rescue calls, house and building fires. We see it all. Who would do this job for at times nothing more than self gratification?
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . me.
[ 07-03-2001: Message edited by: toneloc177 ]May God bless all the people and families who have lost
their lives on 9-11-01, to those also lost on Flight 587, and to the rescuers who responded to both.
"I'm not saying it's right, i'm just saying (the way it is)."
FDNY-EMS - Still New York's Best!
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