1. #1
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    Question Training & Call attendance minimums ?

    I have been looking back at our last years' attendance on calls and training days. I am sure it is that our stats are not that much different than many other depts, A few that make less than 10%, a few more less than 25%, the bulk in the 30-55% area and the dedicated handful that are over 65%. We were fortunate to outfit ALL of them with new Turn-outs last year. We now have new members coming in that have old hand-me-downs. My thoughts are to set minimum level of attendance in order to be considered active and keep this new gear. Otherwise it will get passed on to the new people that actually show up. The question is; What is a realistic minimum level of attendance ? What are the experiences of some of you that have these standards in place ? I realize that not all will increase their attendance and we will lose those that are " Only a VOLUNTEER ". But 1 out of ten calls is not helping anyone much and may do more harm !

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    I would like information on this also. I have been attempting to come up with a policy to implement myself. I am trying to get my ducks in a row to present a policy to the board of directors. The attendance requirements I have come up with this are as follows: The member must attend two meetings a month, if for some reason the member is not able to attend, the member must contact an officer of the department and let them know why they will not be at the meeting. Failure to make a meeting in two consecutive months will subject the member to suspension. This is a preliminary plan. Now let me say that we meet EVERY Monday night at 1900 HRS, there is no excuse for a member to not know when we meet. I understand that people work out of town, things come up with families, and so on. Now having said that, if you are so busy that you do not have the time to come to training sessions, and attend meetings to know the "goings on" in the department, what good are you doing? If someone does not take the time to call you and tell you about what was discussed at the meeting, how do you know what is going on? Does this sound fair to you all, or have I stepped out on a limb here? Please be honest I plan on presenting this in the next couple of weeks. Thanks!
    Matt Griffin
    Chief
    Eastern Chilton County Division of Fire, Rescue, and EMS, Station 91.

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    Matt,
    I can tell you what the last department I was on did for attendance at meetings and calls. This was established long before I came on, and they didn't seem to have the issues that I'm fighting on my new department. This is how it worked: They documented everything in their bylaws and issued a copy to each member (including those who had put in the applications but were in the "inactive" status). It stated that you must attend all scheduled business meetings (first Sunday of each month). If you missed, you had to have a valid excuse (work, family illness, etc). You were expected to contact an officer before you missed the meeting to let him know you wouldn't be there. You were allowed to miss three business meetings, then the elected Trustees would meet with you to discuss your absenteism and commitment to the department. In regards to calls, you were expected to have an minimum attendance of 30% for day fires, and 50% for night fires. At every meeting the sheet containing the percentages would be passed to each firefighter to let him (or her) know their current status. If, after three months, you had fallen below the required percentage, the elected Trustees would meet with you to discuss your attendance and commitment to the department. In regards to training, you were sent through the FFI course before you were issued your bunker gear (you got to use the old bunker gear to train in). You were expected to know all the S.O.P.'s and departmental policies (these were issued to you when you were brought on as an "inactive" member). After your training was complete, and there was a position open, you would move up to an "active" member. Then your probationary time would begin. However, if you did not attend all of your training classes (or make arrangements to make them up) you would not be eligible to be brought on as a probationary member. That is your responsibility to reschedule with the training officer your training, if missed. In regards to new members, the elected Trustees would meet with all new applicants and determine their interest in the department. If it appeared that they were serious about being a firefighter, the Trustees would recommend to the Active Members (less probationary firefighters) that the applicant be allowed on the "inactive" list and be allowed to beging training. Then, if the applicant met all of his (or her) training criteria, the members (less the probationary firefighters) would vote to let the "inactive" member, become a probationary firefighter for one year. Within that year, he (or she) was watched for their actions on the fireground, at rescue scenes, their participation at fundraisers and parades, and their participation during Fire Prevention Week activities as well as their call percentage. If they were safe, and actively participated, they were voted on the department. If not, the bylaws allowed them to continue on as a probationary firefighter for another year, then if no improvement, they would be automatically dismissed. Consequently, everything is documented to provide a paper trail in the event someone cries "That's not fair!!", also all training is documented and filed (both paper and electronically) in the event OSHA should decide to stop by for a visit ( ). All of this really kept the department on an even keel. Yea, you still had the issues between members (more personality issues than anything else) but everyone understood what was expected and what the consequences were if they didn't meet those expectations. It made for a more professional department and a more enjoyable experience.
    I know I wrote a lot, and I apologize. I hope this helps. Good luck with trying to get your attendance policy in place.
    FFI/EMT-B

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    Spanner thanks for your time and information. From that it looks like my idea is on the right track, it sounds like that department has their stuff together. Once again thanks for your time.
    Matt Griffin
    Chief
    Eastern Chilton County Division of Fire, Rescue, and EMS, Station 91.

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    This is how it works in my department. Everything is stated in the departments Constitution and by-laws:

    -Firefighters MUST make 75% of training drills a 1/4 (quarter). We have 3 training drills a month, unless there is an extra Thursday in the month (we train on Thursdays), then we have 4. So in a quarter you'll have roughly 9 drills and have to attend 6 or 7.
    -If this requirement isn't met, the Firefighter (Active or Probie) is brought before a Personal Committee. An Active Firefighter COULD be busted down to Probie, and a Probie put out of the department.

    It is described a lot better in our by-laws, but I hope I gave you the idea.

    Hope it helps....good luck.

  6. #6
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    We have our drills on every Monday. We have one at 0900 (for those that work afternoons/midnights) and another at 1900. Everyone is expected to attend a minimum of 2 drills per month. Usually our am and pm drills are the same, so you don't have to attend both in one day. Obviously we wants people to attend as many as possible, but 2 is the minimum.

    As for calls, we don't require anyone to make a certain number of calls. You are expected to attand as many as possible, but there is no minimum. If we did, we would have to figure out when each person is not working, at school, at a family function, etc... and then figure out how many calls there were when the person was available. Then you'd have to figure out how many they made to figure out the % that they made. It's just not feasible to give a flat percentage that everyone must attend, due to work schedules and such.

    The only requirement concerning runs is that to be eligible for an officer's position, you must be in the top 50% of those attending runs. This isn't 50+% of the runs......... Say we have 1000 runs, and the person who made the most runs made 520 of them. Everyone is ranked by the number of runs they attended and to be eligible to be an officer, you must be in the top half.

    This has worked out well for us.

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    Spanner I have a question for you. How many fire calls do you run in a year? In my FD you 30/50 would probably mean 200 runs a year just to meet the min. As for training make the training so they want to come. We do the same boring stuff year after year. Attendance is high early in the year and then goes down hill. Many go to state courses to get something new but then after a few years its all old.

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    Fitguy51,
    The percentages were used in the first department of which I was a member. The call average ran between 20-25 a month (it depended upon weather conditions with grass fires, car wrecks, mutual aid, or structure fires). With only 20 members (at that time. They've since changed their bylaws to add 5 additional members), we did run quite a bit of calls. The percentage basis worked well for accountability in this case. However, you could still count on the same 8-10 members showing up for every (or nearly every) call. The bylaws were realistic in how they excused those who missed calls for work, sickness, vacations, etc.
    On my current department, we only average about 10-calls a month (we had a high of 32 calls in March due to a dry spring and many grass fires). There is no accountability to speak of on my current department. The bylaws were set up so that members didn't miss meetings, as far as accountability goes (this was removed from the bylaws at the last business meeting). There was never anything set up for calls. There are a group of us who are trying to change that since, once again, you have the same 8-10 members showing up for calls. There is a lot of dissension right now with four members not making meetings or calls and not being held accountable for their attendance. Yes, we are volunteer. But why stay on the department if you're not going to contribute anything to your fellow firefighters or the community? That's what we're fighting. Even with the members who are making calls and meetings, there are those who won't train on training nights (once a month). They want to show up to get counted so they can say they were there. We do send folks to the state fire school and have conducted Firefighter I classes. However, it seems that the mentality in our department is such that once you have had the class, you don't need to continue to work on your skills. Like anything else, the skills that we learn as firefighters are perishable. We do need to keep current on the changing technology that's offered and on the basics. There are several articles in Firehouse magazine that relate to LODD's. It seems that we're still losing brothers and sisters over the basics. I understand where you're coming from in regards to training. We had a great turn-out after we completed the Firefighter I course and testing for training nights. That lasted two months. I just talked to our training officer last night, and he's running out of ideas and can't really plan since he doesn't know how many will turn out for training. I understand his frustration. I feel this comes down to leadership taking a stand and requiring attendance for training. So what if we do the same things over and repeat the basics? Those are the techniques and skills that have been learned over time from experience (and other firefighters' deaths). I think you have to look at what we do (whether volunteer or career) as a life and death endeavour (not to be overly dramatic). Not only for the people to which we respond, but ourselves as well. Too many folks on my department look on it was being a "social club", not as serving the community. They have the mindset that since we're a small town with a low amount of calls, that "it can never happen to us". "If you fail to prepare, you prepare to fail", is one of my favorite quotes. Yes, it's difficult to get members excited about training. However, it seems to be those who show up irregularly (or not at all) who drag the department down. Those that show up for calls actually practice their skills and keep current.
    I apologize for the rant and length of the post. I hope that I've answered the questions that you were asking. If not, feel free to drop me an email.
    FFI/EMT-B

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    Post Two Cents...

    I'll add my two cents, if you don't mind:

    My company has a 20% minimum to remain as an active members. With about 150 calls a year + training every week, that isn't very hard. We receive new gear every year from the relief association. It's given out to the top 20% of the company based on total calls & drills. Generally the same people are at the top, so we then rotate the gear down as needed to replace older gear. Those right outside the 20% with gear that needs to be replaced will get new gear, if any is left. Usually those at the very end have older gear in good shape and are not offended to not get new gear.

    Just a thought. Stay safe!

    -Devil
    Once again....the above views are my own and not that of my department. (And probably should not be construed as having any real meaning, whatsoever!)

    IACOJ

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    We run about 1000 calls a year. For your first two years of membership, the member is supposed to make 40% of fire calls and 50% of "other" such as drills, meetings, parades, and cleaning duties. After the 2 years, members must make 10% of fire calls. To run for a line officer position, the member has to have made 25% of fire calls in the previous year.

    No exemption is made for work, family, illness, etcetera. This is something we are trying to change. Generally the rules are not followed "to the letter" if it is seen that the member is making an honest attempt to contribute.
    9/11/01 Never forget Never forgive

    Dusty, working on Crusty IACOJ

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    Of my department if you miss 3 meetings in row without contacting an officer. In the SOPs it says you must attend 1 out of every 3 meetings held. Pretty simple.
    "I truly believe that tradition is important to the long-term survival of the fire service."-Lt. Andrew Fredricks, FDNY,9-11-01

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    Same boat for us, and we are trying some of the same things. Every so often I post the top 10 responders. This can help motivate folks whose name drops off. There seems to be a bit more competition with this. Plus, it does not embarrass the ones who did not make it since it is either top 10 or not on the list. Lets everyone think they are number 11. We just got a small grant for a few pager/radios. These were strictly awarded to the top responders. They got the new stuff and others did not. Sent a message across rankes that response is very important.
    Good luck and stay safe
    Malcolm Cunningham
    Fire Chief - Hardin FPD
    Hardin, MO

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    I come from a FD that runs 500+ calls a year with over 100 members. We use a point system for retention. It stays at a level for the 1st 5 years and then goes down till the 20th year. At that point you become a life member and no longer have any requirements to maintain. If anyone want more info send me an email and I will send you the info on our retention requirements.

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