Thread: why volunteer?

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    Smile why volunteer?

    I have been asked to give a 15 min speech to about 100 youth on why you should volunteer as a Firefighter. Now I have a few ideas but was wondering what would you say? I don't know what it's like where you are but vollies are not like it used to be so i would like to be effective.

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    Service to your community, giving back, and expand from there. It does not hurt or belittle the service to mention that it is exciting and can help get chicks.
    Be for Peace, but don't be for the Enemy!
    -Big Russ

    Learn from the mistakes of others; you won't live long enough to make them all yourself.

    Quote Originally Posted by nyckftbl View Post
    LOL....dont you people have anything else to do besides b*tch about our b*tching?

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    From a rural standpoint, volunteer firefighters are the front line response. All across America volunteers are still unpaid but still are expected to be there when an emergency arises, 24 hrs. a day- 365 days a year. Why do we do it? That is a question that you'll get 100 different answers to. I do it because of my first statement: if we don't go, who will? Sure alot of departments are going from paid to paid-on-call or staffing stations with 1-3 paid personnel if budgets will allow. For the stations that are strictly volunteer, I guess we do it because we want to protect our community and provide a service rich in tradition dating back to Ben Franklin, who started the first volunteer fire department. People volunteer for different reasons but basically to be a part of an organization with meaning, having a sense of accomplishment and one that is respected by the community.
    For my Brother and Myself, both Captains in our department in N.C., we are following our Father who was a charter member 34 years ago, but that's just us. I have must asked myself 1000 times responding at 3:30am, "why do I do this for nothing (money)"? The answer I come up with is always, SOMEONE IS NEEDING MY HELP! My 17 years of experience and the experience of my fellow firefighters' is what these peolple who call 911 in the middle of the night are counting on. Some say "Thank You" and some don't or forget or they're just too distraught with grief to say it. It's really nice to hear it but it's OK if I don't.
    Satistically, volunteers are being tasked to do more and provide newer services than ever before, ie. medical first responder and Haz-Mat services. As a Traning Officer, I make sure that our guys have quality and effective training without "burning them out". Until we do become paid-on-call, I will continue to do that. Our department is one of the highest trained departments (per certification) in our county. That statement is not about me, but about our men, who want to provide a good service to our community, train to protect each other and have a sense of accomplishment.
    I am a paid/career firefighter with Charlotte Fire Department and I ride both sides of the fence. If it weren't for my Father and my volunteer department I would not be here. It takes a special person to volunteer with anything. Pat yourselves on the back for "stepping up"!

    CHIEFS AND OFFICERS, ALWAYS TELL YOUR MEMBERS HOW MUCH YOU APPRECIATE WHAT THEY DO, IT WILL GO ALONG WAY. SOMETIMES THAT'S ALL THEY NEED TO HEAR!
    HOPE THIS HELPS AND I DIDN'T MEAN TO BE SO LONG WINDED! STAY SAFE!

    CAPTAIN K.T. YOUNT
    ENGINE 60
    VALE, N.C.

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    Why do I do it? Well, I had just gotten married when I became a firefighter, so it wasn't to get chicks.

    I guess I've always enjoyed being able to help others in need. I can't think of a more extreme way to do this than to be a volunteer firefighter. In our situation, we respond to total chaos and restore order.

    When people are suffering the greatest crises of their lives, that's when we show up and take control of the problem and work out the best possible ending for them. We're the world's greatest problem solvers. House is on fire? We'll put it out. Family member is very ill or injured? We'll treat them. Cat stuck in a tree? We'll send the new guy up to get it.

    Any time someone has a problem and has no idea who to call, they call us. I'm very proud to be one of the people who shows up to help in the worst of times. 26 years ago (I was 8 years old) my home was destroyed in a tornado while my family huddled in the basement. When we emerged from the pile of rubble that used to be our home, the first people we saw were the volunteer firefighters going door to door to account for all of the residents. As soon as these firefighters had ensured that their own families were safe, they left their damaged homes to help others who were in greater danger. These men and women were and are heroes in my eyes, and I am honored to be able to call myself "one of them".

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    Thumbs up

    Well said Firemedicgm.

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    Why do I volunteer?

    I grew up in a family where my Dad was a volunteer firefighter. I remember vividly my first trips to the fire hall. The amazing Mack CF pumpers, the leather helmets, and listening to the stories. The guys all seemed to genuinely like each other and the teasing that went along with the hard work made it all seem like the best thing in the world.

    Now I volunteer because I like it. Plain and simple I like the rush, I like the challenge, I like the fact that as much alike as many calls are, they are so very different and challenging at the same time. I like the fact that I am helping others. I like the feeling that in many eyes we are the good guys. We are there to help. I like the feeling of satisfaction when we do a good job. And the determination to learn more and do better the next time.

    You are right that the dedication may not be the same for some as it once was. Life gets busier every year. But have you ever looked at the truly productive firefighters on most departments? They are the people that are truly busy in their lives. So they make the most of the time they have and get the job done.

    Goods luck on your speech.

    FyredUp

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    Why do I volunteer...well the reasons I joined were not the most honorable. My girlfriend just broke up with me and I was trying to find things that would fill up my spare time...so I figured "why not go bug dad at the fire department". Well after a few calls I got "the bug" you know that certain rush you get when tones drop and you know that a) your going to do something you see as "fun" (for lack of a better word) b) your having fun is going to have a positive effect on the community and c) you know that even though most people look down upon younger adults these days (at least around here) that your not part of the problem. I stayed on for the fact that if I didn't respond, excuse me, if we didn't respond that the local city would take us over...I mean I am a bit soft for the old way of doing things, the people of my town deserve service from the fire department of my town. Plus its nice for a victim to see someone local, someone they grew up with, went to school with, there kids went to school with, they went to church with, ect. I like to think that by me freely giving my time I am increasing the level of service in that I am a local guy helping the local folks...Giving back to the town that has given me so much...whether it be in giving me a friendly place to grow up in, a nice school to go to, or even when all the towns people helped me with my eagle project. This is one way I have of giving back to a town that has given me so much...Thats why I do this job...thats why I give my time freely for what I do...and I never ever question myself with saying "is this a waste of my time?"

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    Default If not you then who?

    It's late and i'll probably post more later, but my down and dirty reason is...

    "If you don't do it who will?"
    "Who's going to protect your house & neighborhood when you get older? Who is goign to save your parents when they need it? If not you then who?"

    Ask them to look around and if they can't see anyone doing it, then tell them to look at themselves. We all just can't take in life.

    ~Jeff

    (Now safely in bed, flame away)
    Piscataway Fire Dist #2
    Possumtown V.F.C.

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    Some Heart felt posts here with some good points i can use.
    No trouble to get motivated. I have until the 26th so
    please feel free to add more.

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    It's the neighborly thing to do!

    Up here in coonpeckerpoint, if your neighbors house is on fire, you go help, fireman or not. If your a farmer, and someone else has a barn fire, even if you don't know them, you go help. When we go out on a fire in the winter, people we don't even know come out and help us in anyway they can. Some may bring coffee, or cookies; some help us pack things up. It's knowing that people care we are there for them, and I've said it before, but getting paid with coffee, cookies and smilies and Thank You's is probably the greatest thing in the world. It's different in small towns, in a certain way of the matter. We're no better than any company, anywhere in the world. Our company is made up of ordinary people that are just doing the neighborly thing, plus hundreds upon hundreds of hours of fire academy and DOH training, so the only thing in our small towns that doesn't stay in the 1930's is always ready to help new neighbors.

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    I too am following in my father's footsteps, i had no intrest as a kid but to hang out there, i wanted to be an astronaut. The about 14 i was told i needed to do soemthing over the summe or i would be shipped off some where so i went to my father and asked to become a JR FF at his station, and well i have been doing it ever since. Why do i do it? well tradition is one reason i admired my dad, i too caught the bug. If i don't who will, it is a job which the hours suck there is very little pay, and little if no thanks, but i still do it for that feelign i accomplished somthing to make my community better, i saved a little 8 year old girl's snake (i hate snakes) it was worht it to see her smile when she got her beloved pet back... don't get me started on cats in trees, it part of the lifestyle we live, you know the saying "it's not a job, it's a way of life." thats true. I do it for the brotherhood, the family of firefighting, we may want to beat each other sometimes with tools but when the chips fall i know my 6 is covered. I will echo I've always enjoyed being able to help others in need. I can't think of a more extreme way to do this than to be a volunteer firefighter. In our situation, we respond to total chaos and restore order.
    I will echo firemedicgm's statement, i agree with it whole heartedly amen to you brother.
    "When people are suffering the greatest crises of their lives, that's when we show up and take control of the problem and work out the best possible ending for them. We're the world's greatest problem solvers. House is on fire? We'll put it out. Family member is very ill or injured? We'll treat them. Cat stuck in a tree? We'll send the new guy up to get it."

    i think that is a very point on statement. it may sum up the whole feeling of this lifestyle.
    "Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgement that something else is more important than fear" - Ambrose Redmoon
    “It’s like Lego’s for firefighters.” Robert James III talking about hose appliances.
    "Police, Firefighters and EMS are the most collectively dysfunctional group of people in existence and only we understand each other!"

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    Wow, and I thought we just did it to ride in the BRT, blast the siren, and pick up chicks.

    Some very good words boys. I'll have to tuck some of those away for future use.
    Never argue with an Idiot. They drag you down to their level, and then beat you with experience!

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    Default why do i volunteer?

    Three simple words... I love it!
    I love everything about the job and what it offers. I love the rush that comes when the tones go off and you know that someone needs help. I love being one of the group that knows how to help. I love helping the peoplle that you may never again see in my life but I know that I was there when they needed me the most. They may never get to say thank you, they may never even think about it, but I know that in some small way I served their need. I love the brotherhood. I love knowing that even though there are guys on the dept that I can't stand in day to day events that they will watch out for me and we can work together.
    To put it simply I love this Job. And as Ilook to become a paid FF/paramedic, I will always be a vollie at heart.

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    You know I ask myself why I joined almost every day & still don't know exactly why I joined.

    Have thought about it off and on for multiple years & even called the VFD 8-10 times in a 4 month span leaving messages every time but nobody ever called back & so I figured to heck with it.

    Then a co worker joined & talked me into joining. Got my FF1 & EMT, Hazmat Ops and was working on FF2 & several other certs but when a training Lt ignored my request for help I said to heck with it. WHy should I try and improve/learn advance when my officers have minimal qualifications & dont want to help others learn but they all say the do.

    Personally to me actions speak louder than their words.

    I've seriously thought about leaving the department & turned off the pager for a while. Made the mandatory trainings & meetings but did not respond to a single night call & picked what day call I wanted to respond to (mostly medical)

    Felt like a fake & a fraud picking and choosing what & when I wanted to respond to (that's what our Chief officers do) so now I'm back to making as many calls as I can along with training/meetings but still am completing leaving the department.

    Guess the bottom line is that I made a cottmittment to the department and am not a quitter so I'll try to self motivate & stick it out as long as I can.

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    Talking Why Volunteer

    Well coming from the state I am in we have 61 volunteer departments and 3 paid departments. The cost alone to provide a paid crew for each department each year for those 61 departments would be around 45 million a year. (Study was recently done may be 1 or 2 mill off)

    This cost would have to be bared by tax payers in this state,so the cost alone makes it prohibitive. The next statement I would make to the students are, that in school how many students belong to clubs, honor society,chess,sports,chemistry,political? They do it because they want a sense of belonging. Simply tell them that when they get out of school or if you department has a junior membership program, that they could continue their place in society by contributing a service that is needed, and they will inherit a since of pride and honor in belonging,and the chance to carry on a tradion that was started over 300 years ago.

    Good luck

    Gene

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    I thought about this all night last night, and I too feel the mixed emotions of why I became a volunteer. The most substantial event that drew me into the fire service was an auto accident in our small town many years ago. I sat on the sidewalk and watch the guys, that I've known since I was a tike, work the scene. It was a two vehicle accident; a car pulled off of a side street onto a state route infront of someone else. The car that was t-boned was occuppied by two adults and their infant daughter. The baby, who unfortunately wasn't strapped in her car seat, was ejected from her dad's lap through the front windshield. It was heartbreaking! I watched the firefighters resuscitate the baby and stabilize the other occupants in the vehicles and could feel the sadness that was clearly visible on all of their faces. You guys all know what that feels like.
    After the scene was cleaned up and everyone went back to the station, I walked home and thought more about the events that took place and how the guys must have felt. The following week I went to the station and told the guys that I watched them on the MVA and that they really motivated me to become part of their team.
    Fifteen years later, I find myself in this love-hate relationship with all of them, frustrated at times, but wouldn't give it up for the world. Everytime I think about quitting, I reflect back on that night and remember who it's all for.

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    I volunteer because about five years ago an accident happened right in front of me. An older gentleman was in the left turn lane waiting to make the turn, when the light was yellow he thought (and should have) had enough time to make the turn. Except for the stupid young kid driving a huge tow truck, with vehicle in tow, decide I'm gonna blow this light. The tow truck hit the car on the passenger side and spun it around several times with it landing on the side street he was trying to turn onto. I had no idea what to do but I knew in the very least I was a witness to the accident. I went to that car and asked him if he was alright, he said his ribs, and neck hurt. All I could do for him was to keep talking to him and try to keep him from turning his head. I remember feeling so helpless. Then out of no where some guy gets in the back seat and holds stabilization on his head.(I later found out he was a fireman.) Then you could here the sirens and the next thing I knew I and the car are totally surrounded by firefighters. Cool.
    That day I knew I had to get into some type of class that would give me the knowledge I needed in case I saw another accident. Within a year of that I met my husband and wow, he's an asst. fire chief.That's where it all started,and now I'm an EMT and have helped hundreds of people. I even received a thank you card from him a few weeks later.

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    There is a certain rewarding and fulfilling feeling that you get when....when bad crap happens, it's bigger than they know what to do with, they don't know how to fix it or where to begin, when lives and property are at immediate risk, when every second counts, when all else fails and they have no idea what to do, when panic is setting in, and with no one else to turn to for help..... they call YOU (and your fellow members).

    That and what everyone else has said. Good luck.

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    More I think about the more I thought I would never have enough time to put it all down. I feel as thought I had to follow my big brothers foot steps. Are dad left us when we where little. He was my father figure, him being age 11 when it all started. He joined the fire department in 1988. He took me with him to the station a lot. The more I was there the more it felt like everyone was family there. I was 14 went from my brother being my dad to having 23 other guys helping me with my problems. From there on I realized I belong to the family and have not left it since. I feel such a close bond with the people that where strangers in the beginning that took me because I was young and needed to be involved in something before I became a trouble maker. 14 years a member and being around for 17 I can not imagine life with out it. Last night at Wal-Mart, a young lady came up to my wife and me. She thanked me for being there in he time of need. She was involved in a MVA with her 4 year old daughter. We had to extricate them from the vehicle. She was injured, but the daughter was ok in a car seat. We kept her daughter calm while the ambulance crew helped mommy. Same young lady had a kitchen fire three months after that. Never thought about just how much of our lives we gave up to help others. She told my wife how strong she must be to see me go out the door and never know what kind of call it will be or turn out to be. The missed dinners and family events that we always end up leaving. Guess after all this is just to help others in there time of need. Because when I was in need I was helped, my time to pass it along.

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    Originally posted by tk1918
    Fifteen years later, I find myself in this love-hate relationship with all of them, frustrated at times, but wouldn't give it up for the world.
    Isn't that the reason we call it a brotherhood amen to that my brother.
    "Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgement that something else is more important than fear" - Ambrose Redmoon
    “It’s like Lego’s for firefighters.” Robert James III talking about hose appliances.
    "Police, Firefighters and EMS are the most collectively dysfunctional group of people in existence and only we understand each other!"

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    Smile

    To all of you that have posted my hat is off to you. Without people like you where would this world be. I too am a volunteer paramedic and recently ff. I do it because I love it. My parents were never involved in the EMS or fire service. A co worker was an EMT and I admired him for that so he asked why I didn't join. I kept giving all the typical reasons why I couldn't do it. But something gave me a kick in the butt to try. That was 10 years ago. My coworker is now the EMS chief and I proudly serve under him. I too have suffered burn out and took a leave of absence but there is always something that brings me back. This past December a was forced to have major surgery and had to take 6 weeks off. That was the toughest time in my life. Hearing the tones drop and not being able to do anything. So I basically begged my surgeon to let me come back with no lifting 3 weeks postop. Told him I couldn't stand it I had to run.
    Of course there are those patients who truly make your day and everything worth while. We had a SUV vs. semi truck yesterday MVC and the driver of the SUV looked up and said "thank you." I was speechless and finally said "for what?" He said "just for being here." That just lit the fire under my butt and made my day!!!!
    SO.... THANK YOU!!!!!! All of you for everything you do and for being there, we all appreciate it.

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    Volunteer because America needs help with things that doesn't cost. I volunteer because I can give help and someday I might need that help.

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    Why Volunteer...
    TV wasn't any good that night.
    Actually, it took me three letters to the department back in 1980 to "volunteer" for the fire department.
    I don't mean to make light of it, but when you read through the posts, the same reasons seem to surface and as cliche'-ic as it sounds, that is the reason for most. We just want to help.
    Now; there are a few adrenaline junkies out there who need to percolate just from the excitement of it, but all in all, good and decent people want to help when they can.
    The problem with this in the volunteer fire service, is that good intentions aren't enough. There is a significant commitment of time that must be made to the fire department so that this "volunteer" can prepare themselves for what is very dangerous work sometimes.
    Society needs the Lions, Rotarys, cancer/hospice volunteers, coaches, church bizaars and teen mentors, among others.
    But none of those groups will ever know the extraordinary sacrifice that must be made by the people who join their "volunteer" fire departments. It's akin to volunteering for some bizaar, scientific experiment!
    And I am proud to have been one and still proud as a fire district trustee.
    CR
    Last edited by ChiefReason; 04-23-2005 at 10:50 AM.
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    Hmmmm....I never had a FF/EMS in the family; never knew anyone in the dept.; never was around volunteers (fire & rescue or otherwise); and never had a fire or needed EMS (I thank God). But a few years back I just knew something was missing in my life...so did some local volunteering in the community. Primarily working with people with developmental disabilities, food banks, hospice, etc.

    But as much volunteering as I was doing, I still didn't feel like I was helping or making a difference. So the fire department was my next step. I figured the skills I'd learn would be useful not just when I'm volunteering but when I'm out & about and someone needs help. And admittedly, deep inside I was also looking to be a part of a tight-knit community. Can't say I've found that yet...relationships take time and I'm still new. I'm learning a lot about the career-volunteer system and issues that go on with that and the politics involved with the departments (same in any organization) that as an outsider I simply never considered or expected.

    Having said all that...it's in the heart and I'm being selfish by saying I do it because it makes me feel good that I can/could help someone. It's just that simple. The good thing is that I have had such a passion & fire (unintentional but appropriate pun) in my heart since the day I started with the department and that's a dang good feeling! I don't have a spouse & kids that I'm leaving to do this job but know others that do and still make time for their priorities. It does interfere a bit with my other relationships but I feel this is such an important part of my life and who I want to be so I'm willing to commit the time and sacrifice a bit of my relationships.

    Good luck with your report!
    Last edited by skyraider; 04-23-2005 at 07:12 PM.

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    Ok, I have seen some great replies to this topic...many of which are most likely better than mine, but I'll keep it simple....I love this work. The adrenaline rushes, excitement, and opportunity to help others in their times of need! I have always been told to find that one thing that you love to do wether paid or unpaid....this is it! I could never imagine doing anything else. I have seen many things in my short two years that have made me question myself and why I do this....but I just think of myself in their shoes, i would be glad to see someone there for me! I spend every extra second I have at the Fire Dept. I love it, outside of my paid job, this is my life, I put everything I have into it!! Anyways, that is all I have for now. I look forward to seeing everyone elses reasons!

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