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  1. #1
    Forum Member 1835Wayne's Avatar
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    Unhappy public perception of vols

    i dont know about the rest of you ,but it seems to me that here in indiana most people hav a bad perception of vols. we are refered to as "blue light crusaders" and "basement savers". all of us know that we train as much as, if not more than most paid departments.we operate on a shoestring budget and with less support than our paid brothers and sisters.

    my prblem is this- how do we imrove our public image? how do we temper the enthusiasum of the 18 yr old who tends to respond to the station in a manner that looks bad to the public?
    I.A.C.O.J. Charter Member
    "Chet, get an inch and a half on that!"

    "Not for fame or reward,Not for place or rank. Not lured by ambition or goaded by necessity. But in simple obedience to duty as they understood it. These men suffered,sacrificed,dared all, and died. Let us never forget our fallen friends."


  2. #2
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    suspend the kid for 30 days.

    worked for me.


    the rest jsut needs time. bad memories have a long lifetime, good ones a short lifetime.. is merely a fact that no one can change.

    jim
    ** THIS IS MY OPINION ONLY, NOT A TEAM OPINION**
    James A. Baleno
    NYS EMT-D
    Supervisor, Onondaga County Parks EMS
    Located in Onondaga County, right in the middle of NY State

  3. #3
    Forum Member 1835Wayne's Avatar
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    I get what you're saying Jim, the unfortunate thing is that with the numbers of people willing to volunteer nowadays its hard enough to get them to stay longer than a couple of years. The problem is that about the time that you get them trained to an acceptable level they quit. That makes the quality of our dept. stay static. It also worries me to be on scene with guys who are for the most part rookies.

    What can we do about retention in a small rural dept?Morale overall isn't bad , and we have a decent call load for our area.We have good equipment and apparatus. We are also in good shape financialy.

  4. #4
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    Hrmm.... Perhaps you need to find out why people are leaving. Is it the job situation locally? Is it that the taxes are going up?

    I know that in my brother's department, they have talked to the town about property and school tax breaks for firefighters. That may help.

    hope things work out for your department

    Jim
    ** THIS IS MY OPINION ONLY, NOT A TEAM OPINION**
    James A. Baleno
    NYS EMT-D
    Supervisor, Onondaga County Parks EMS
    Located in Onondaga County, right in the middle of NY State

  5. #5
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    Don't be afraid to discipline firefighters for breaking the rules. This assumes that you have written rules and procedures.

    You are much better off, in my opinion, with a handful of dedicated, knowledgable people than with a bunch of halfway-trained loose cannons. I understand the conflict between needing GOOD personnel and needing someone, anyone to fill a seat so you can get a truck out.

    You might be loosing volunteers because some of the "loose cannons" aren't being dealt with.

    Regardless, you're going to have turnover on the department. That's just the nature of the beast.

    Good luck.
    Bryan Beall
    Silver City, Oklahoma USA

  6. #6
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    Well first this falls on the shoulders of the chief of the department to explain to this 18 yr.old that his actions are not exceptable. If he is a hazard in route to the station then your department needs to implement a six month or twelve month probationary period on new members. So you can train and make sure that they understand the conduct that they should show to the public. If not he could cause another emergency while trying to respond to an incident.
    Last edited by ThickSmoke3; 02-17-2002 at 07:20 AM.

  7. #7
    Forum Member 1835Wayne's Avatar
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    Well thick smoke we already have a six month probation, three months were they are to recieve alltheir initial training and are NOT allowed to run calls. A vote is taken by the voting members each of the first three months. At any time that the body deems it necessary in these three months they can summarily discharge this individual. After that its up to the chief and officers for the next three months.
    At the completion of six months the body gets its chance again.

    I guess what we need in a P.R. sense is a way to improve our image as a dept. We try to enforce the rules without being so severe as to drive these guys away, but it doesn't always work. In some cases it was definatly good riddance , but in some it was a shame to lose a person with great potential.
    I.A.C.O.J. Charter Member
    "Chet, get an inch and a half on that!"

    "Not for fame or reward,Not for place or rank. Not lured by ambition or goaded by necessity. But in simple obedience to duty as they understood it. These men suffered,sacrificed,dared all, and died. Let us never forget our fallen friends."

  8. #8
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    I have beenthinking of this on and off lately, for other reasons, but i thought that perhaps some of the conclusions I have come to recently may benefit you. From a PR perspective that is.

    Does your department do any public events, such as parades, or open houses, orblood pressure screenings? Things like this can bring the community in and let them 'get to know' you in your public service capacity.

    Even something as simple as offering BP Screenings even once a month may end up making a difference. All that takes is some envelope stuffing to let people know, and then a few people (EMS, and preferably some officers) to be around for a few hours in the afternoon/evening to do the checks. All you have to do for the checks, is create a little form (MS Word will work well for this) that has the person's name, date, and their pressure on it. You then give them a copy to keep, and keep a record. The other advantage of this, is that you get to know people in the community who may hae medical problems that you will be called for, and can better assist them when they need it.

    Just my PR $.02

    Jim
    ** THIS IS MY OPINION ONLY, NOT A TEAM OPINION**
    James A. Baleno
    NYS EMT-D
    Supervisor, Onondaga County Parks EMS
    Located in Onondaga County, right in the middle of NY State

  9. #9
    Forum Member 1835Wayne's Avatar
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    Thanks Jim! the blood pressure screening's sound like a win-win idea.
    I'll try to sell the chief on it and then the membership. I hope we do it. I know as a first responder myself how important it is to have an idea who we may have in poor health in our coverage.

    Anyone have any other ideas?? We do a senior citizens dinner in dec. every year, plus our regular fund raisers, but not much else.
    I.A.C.O.J. Charter Member
    "Chet, get an inch and a half on that!"

    "Not for fame or reward,Not for place or rank. Not lured by ambition or goaded by necessity. But in simple obedience to duty as they understood it. These men suffered,sacrificed,dared all, and died. Let us never forget our fallen friends."

  10. #10
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    You may also want to look into running a Smoke Detector program too. I believe that if you check with some of the local Insurance agencies (that sell Homeowners Insurance) there may even be a program in place that allows you to obtain smoke detectors at a low price, and then make them available to the residents in your area.

    My brother reminded me of that program this morning, they just suck up the cost, and give the detectors away, but they usually get donations from it that add up to more than the cost, so it all works out in the end.

    THis program is something that would allow the dept to go door to door inthe district and see who needs them, and also get to know the residents (and let them get to know you). Just another idea. Costs a little more to start than the BP's, but is a safety issue anyways.

    Jim
    ** THIS IS MY OPINION ONLY, NOT A TEAM OPINION**
    James A. Baleno
    NYS EMT-D
    Supervisor, Onondaga County Parks EMS
    Located in Onondaga County, right in the middle of NY State

  11. #11
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    Post Public Perception

    Yey here is an idea that just might work for you all, becuase it sure did help my department. What we did was make it to wherethe only ff's using lights and siriens are the elected officcers in the dept., also ff's responding to the station can only use the vehicles four-ways (unless they are officers). When responding you must obay the 10 m.p.h. over posted speed limit rule, no passing where passing is not permitted(ie. turn lanes no passing zones, shoulders,etc.). When someone is reported by a citizen we handle the problem at the station , but if the police see this bad example they give the subject a citation and we have a talk with the subject and the PD officer who gave the ticket, at the same time explaining that if another report from PD or anyone is received then they will be suspended from responding to calls and the department for a period of not less than 30 days. Since this was implemitted we have had 0 complaints. txfirfightr

  12. #12
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    Volunteer departments tend to look worse if you have neighboring paid fire departments. Where I am volunteer is the only way, and I don't think people would like it any other way. Personally, my feeling on it is that if I weren't in the fd and my house caught on fire. I would feel better with the guy who don't get a paycheck for it than the guy who does. I have this thing that when it comes to the end of their shift they could "jack the job" but we don't want to go there. Have open houses. We give snorkel rides going up in the air, not high but off the ground. We have open houses invite people to watch competitions. We do anything for the public that they ask. You must go out of your way to improve things. And one thing is, is never talk about anything the department does to your general public. Don't mope around at home and complain about things. Leave it in the walls of the barn. We post notices that if you want your chimney cleaned call us we et right out and do it then. Pools to be filled/emptied anything and we don't ask for a penny. And the money that we do get from donations goes into the banquet account. And be courteous on the road. Its always nice going up the road and you see that old lady, wave to her and smile. Simple stuff like that lets them know that your even with them and are not stuck up about it. But, if you have a bad reputation from before when you came, its going to be hard to shake. And the reasons why I think vols have become known as teh cellar savers and such is because we don't have it. Plain and simple, around here we have rolling hills, steep hills, long hills, we run old equipment, 1 automatic in the whole fleet and it takes time to get places. Paid departments just tend to be heavier funded and can provide better fire protection but what we deliver and most vol dept.'s is excellent. We are there to protect life first. Then we will worry about belongings etc. I am glad to see that so many of you, have decided to go into the volunteer life.
    Firefighter/EMT Mitch Cowen
    Hose Co. 1 1st Lieutenant
    Randolph Fire Co. Inc

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