1. #26
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    i am a volunteer for a combination dept in clear lake, texas. we have always had a problem recruiting and retaining volunteers. you will always get the young guys that want to join, " so they can be a firefighter " but have no real care in learning the trucks, and serving the community. but you have to take them as they come, as with them, you will get some of the younger generation that truly is interested. Our dept has no explorer type program, and does not intend to ever start one. we do paid per call for the volunteers at $2 a call, payed at the end of the year banquet. ( not much at all ) We currently have approximately 29 members, with almost 10 on the probie list trying to join( havent seen that many at once in years ) we have had signs made proffesionally to place throught the community, but as newer homes are being built, the area is becoming more and more " white collar ", in no way am i putting these people down, but usually, they arent very inclined to volunteer time. though some do. our dept is very progressive, always trying new stuff, we train hard, and are very aggresive on fire scenes. all i can really say is, volunteers will come and go, some will stay longer than others ( even though some you may not want to stay ) but keep at it. there will always be someone to volunteer. and as long as you can crew that rig. your doing good.


    www.forestbendfire.com

  2. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by 275fbvfd
    we have had signs made proffesionally to place throught the community, but as newer homes are being built, the area is becoming more and more " white collar ", in no way am i putting these people down, but usually, they arent very inclined to volunteer time. though some do.
    The same thing is happening/has happened to the community where I live-- Purcellville, VA. The funny thing is that I'm one of the white collar folks who moved into the community... (Yes, I will agree-- one of the few who is inclined to volunteer... But that's just the way my parents raised me-- to have a worthwhile community with heart and soul, you need to give a little bit of your own heart and soul.)

    Of all the things that could have been used for recruitment for me (I just became a probie this week), a simple banner hanging by the road titled "Help keep Purcellville Rescue Squad all volunteer" was the most effective. It caught my attention and lead me to meet some folks and learn about what the rescue squad was all about. That lead to where I am today.

    Some of the other things that I found to be positive factors after my initial contact (which helped lead to me becoming a member):

    1. Contact with various members of the squad, done by stopping by the station at a few "random" times to meet different people. (I kind of did this on my own, as I wanted to meet as many folks as possible to see how well I'd fit in with everybody else on the squad.)

    2. The personalities of the folks I met before/during the application process. Every time I stopped by whomever was there was friendly and happy to see someone new who was interested in becoming a member of the squad. The other members were happy to chat-- whether it be about what I could expect as a squad member, or just to shoot the breeze. This was a key factor for me.

    (Notice that both of these are "people" related. No matter what organization you're involved with, or what you're trying to accomplish, I'm a firm believer that genuine warmth, courtesy, and friendliness can work wonders.)

  3. #28
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    Default Volunteer Recruitment

    Recruitment and retention of white collar personnel isn't as much different than for any other demographic. They key is warm greeting, appreciation of their willingness to serve as a volunteer, and seeing where their white collar skills also may be made of good use for the department...and willingness to learn from them too!

    In talking to fire departments and FF/EMS on a daily basis, one of the things I've seen is that there are many, who have taken advantage of the dwindling numbers, recruitment/retention challenges, and have thus used techniques to discourage new members with skills that threaten their turf and newly found management positions within the company. These officers (line & administrative) are then those who will find every excuse why they can't recruit and retain new members (every imagineable form of blame-projections).

    There are many who complain about some of the chiefs being like this, but it is administrative officers as well. The problem with these guys, in addition to threatened/fragile egos, is that they're not trained to be managers and have no experience at this in their regular vocational life. Some may power-thrust on others, because this is how their bosses at work conduct themselves and perhaps there exists a little bit of hostility projection onto others as the result. Some mean well and really don't have the ego issues, but they just don't know how to manage people and their office, because the folks they replaced weren't good role models.

    To recruit, schools are good to get younger members, certainly if the department has a juniors program. Send notices to the local churches that you need volunteers as many of these folks have a tendency to volunteer to help others in the community. For one thing, you'll get volunteers who are serious about the job, rather than just joining a social club, where they can get a cheap beer.

    Also, who is/are the major employer(s) in your area? They may be a good source for new members too, given that their tax contributions to the community (sales, income, property) are a large economic seed for the area and thus they are a fire protection critical target.

    Local newspaper, radio & TV ads (PSAs) are generally underused. The recruitment ads could be used in conjunction with donation solicitations by combining them under a main theme of support the department by either joining or donating. Also define the need for volunteers and for the funding.

    It also helps to have a recruitment plan. This needs to be written very specific and in objective behavior terms such as "recruit 2 new members per month by using this/that method and within these costs", rather than something general like recruit more members.

    I'm finally getting to the point, where I can put more time into a VFD Management Course that I'm working on. Recruitment/retention will be one of the areas that I'll cover, because it is indeed a national problem. This will be a FREE on-line course for all, however, because of volume there will be a registration for a limited number of participants who will get more one on one, message board interaction and chat room classroom type of attention. I've only just started a few modules (working on more tonight), but I'll be able to cover more of this, rather than have long MB/forum posts trying to adequately cover the recruitment/retention and other issues. This will be a pretty extensive curriculum, so it will take me a while to write it.

    To do this, I'm combining my 33 years of VFD experience with my Ed.D, which I've had since 1981. So, I'll have more of this done, certainly per the recruitment/retention issues done in the coming weeks. I'm actually really looking forward to working on this, because I know there isn't anything really out there like it, it really needs to be done, and I really like challenging projects like this.

    Will Griffin
    VFD-Funding.com

  4. #29
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    Who's really buying this guy? I mean really?
    Just know, I chose my own fate. I drove by the fork in the road and went straight.

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    Go put your pussy 2 1/2" lines away kiddies.

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    By the way KEEPBACK200FEET, you're so dramatic!

  5. #30
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    Thumbs up recrutement / retension / incentives

    I'am responsible for getting new members in my company and enjoy every minute of it! any time I'am in a group of people, at a ball game in town, provide EMS at the high school, wherever, I sell my company!! Who we are as people first , what we have accomplished as firefighters, were we have exceled as a company, the benefits of being a member,and were we want to see our company go. one thing that sets us apart is we are a non drinking ,non smoking and do not deal or tolerate with the political crap that seams to destroy most departments company and it seams to work very well with retention. all our members make 60%, made losap $1150 (the funny thing ,nobody cares about losap) meets every wed for training, continues advanced training on their own. we stress family, brotherhood, profesionalism, and the most important " RESPECT "! our ENG 98% of the time rolls with a crew,the other 2% driver and FF. we have found that by asking to give what they can and provide good leadership they give more with out asking. what more could we ask for!

    "there is no greater family outside our own than the brotherhood of firefighters"

    LT. Dennis

  6. #31
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    Pardon me, what is "losap"?

  7. #32
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    Post losap

    LOSAP is a " length of service wards program, based on a points system ,as a retirement fund for your years of volunteering to your dept./ squad. the idea behind it is to be an incentive to join the dept. and get something in return.

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    Thanks - out in the West, we call that a retirement plan. Points for each year, each call, each meeting.

  9. #34
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    Default How do you become a volunteer firefighter?

    Hey there current/future firefighters. I have just recently wanted to become a firefighter, but first I want to start off as a volunteer firefighter. Where do I start and how can I become a volunteer firefighter?

  10. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by KArata
    Hey there current/future firefighters. I have just recently wanted to become a firefighter, but first I want to start off as a volunteer firefighter. Where do I start and how can I become a volunteer firefighter?
    Go visit your local volunteer fire house. They will more than likely welcome you and get you started.
    "This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?

  11. #36
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    A lot of good info out there, but I'm surprised no one has mentioned the NVFC (National Volunteer Fire Council)! Log on http://www.nvfc.org/ and navigate to the Recruitment and Retention link.
    I live in a county where the average single family home price is $695,000. We also are faced with the stampede of workers moving out to cheaper housing 20 miles to the north. We have had a reimbursement program in effect for 15+ years now ($150 a month) and just went to a basic reimbursement with a PPC of $10 to $20 based on your rank.
    Over the years we have tried many programs to recruit help. I have learned that no one program works. While the best is word of mouth from our members it still takes creative and resourceful thinking. Believe me "It ain't easy."
    We just received a $50,000 grant from the Safer fund that will pay for some first class pamphlets, posters, newspaper ads and movie theatre slides. Next year we hope to get a grant for LOSAP although the young people today are not to concerned about what they might get in 30 years when they turn 60.
    And getting the people though the door is only half the problem. The day they step in that door you have a retention problem to keep them. Lots of problems there! Egos,clics, power trips, you name it. We've all seen it. Are you prepared with equipment (bunker gear) and novice training to get 10 new people up to speed?
    Maintaining a respected active volunteer department takes a lot of work and commitment to overcome all the problems we encounter, money, recruits, federal laws and dealing with training issues that we may not be familiar with such as hybrids and seat belt pretensioners.
    Maybe the next thread should be "What has worked for you?"
    Ike
    "Don't say much so when I do.."

    9/11 This Firefighter will never forget!

  12. #37
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    What happends when all of the things you do for your firefighters becomes expected or taken for granted. My department does so many things that it really is unbelieveable. I came from a department that had nothing, so I know what it is like to have to buy almost everything yourself. Starting with your uniform. Heck at my current dept. we will give you whatever you want, after the probation period you are given all of your uniforms Class A - Class E.

    I know that we cannot be the only people out there with this problem. Please let me know what your department does.

    Thanks,
    Chris

    www.fairviewfiredept.com

  13. #38
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    Talking

    As a farming community becomes a bed room communtiy. People from "the city" are building their 200k to 800k homes down the gravel road from the one room farm house built right after the civil war that is now a ballon construction rattling death trap with 8 rooms & a second floor. These folks have no idea that when they dial 911 the fireman aren't sitting in the house ready to respond. They don't read the local papers, because they don't care what happened at the fair, they read the metro area paper. Asking for volunteers, why we are asking for a tax increases or advertising a fund raiser doesn't reach them. There isn't a central loaction we can sit to inform the public. The business "center" is located near the largest town or village (pop. 260 District is 32sq. miles Aprox 2500 pop)in our District. To get to the big box type stores, you can get to just about any one you can think of in under 20 min, people drive in the opposite direction of these businesses. We are preparing to send a "news letter" to every address in our District, and this plan my friends is no cheap date! We can use bulk mailing by Zip code for half our district. As luck would have it, the northern half of our District's Zip code is he same as the largest town in our county with an estimated pop of 50,000, so the bulk mail rate to this Zip made our Treasurer cry. By the time this project is ready to go I am affraid the postal rate will have increased to the point that we will have to rob British cash storage depot to afford stamps. [Thanks for reading my rant. No refunds]
    We're not spliting rocket hairs here people!

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  14. #39
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    I am looking into sending out info about our department with the county tax bills - it may help us reach the non-resident land owners.

  15. #40
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    for volunteers if you don't have the funding to pay them per call or however then give them a reason to volunteer. at my department we let the vollies wash there car and clean there cars out, allow them to hang out. we have basketball goals and work out equipment that they can use.
    EMS 172 Rescue 205 BLS 201 Engine 221 Truck 225 Pri. 1 10-50 PI 2 Pin-Ins!

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  16. #41
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    Generally utilities will allow you to put mailers in with thier bills every once in awhile. All you need to cover is the cost of getting the inserts to thier bill processing facility and obviously the inserts themselves.

    Another idea may be small real estate type signs at key intersections. I used these with great success several times and they are rather cheap, usually $8-10 each and will last a couple of years (of course you only keep them out for a few weeks.. then put them up 3-4 months later). Put them in both directions so they see them coming and going.

    Something simple is to have bumper stickers made up for your members car with a quick 4 or 5 word recruiting jingle. it's amazing how many people will read them while they are stopped at a light. Alwso recruiting info on the trucks is effective ... something simple like "Looking For Volunteers .. call xxx-xxxx.

    Just think of ways in your community that people can see a slogan or short message for 5 or 10 seconds... and put them as many places as you can. Repition is the key in marketing, which is essentailly what you are doing.

  17. #42
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    I am a Captain of a Volunteer/Paid dept in Colo. And the biggest problem we have is keeping the newbies interest. We are probably with out a doubt one of the most elite volunteer depts. in the country. We have some of the newest most up to date equipment any dept. could hope for, our chief spares no expense when it comes to our gear, safety, needs or ability to do the job. We offer training every monday night minimum, extra training is always available. Not to mention the extra curicular activities we have going on thru out the year. Each applicant is questioned n a review board process prior to being accepted to the dept. as to whether they would be willing to comit the time, and with out fail all always reply yes. But then once they have made it thru the fire academy, and placed on a response team they seem to lose their interst. Any ideas as to how to keep them interested and coming to trainings would be greatly appreciated.
    Last edited by tckojac77; 04-09-2006 at 09:17 PM.

  18. #43
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    Default tckojac77

    tckojac77 -

    Perhaps the membership has a similiar elitest attitude and new people don't get credit for their accomplishments...
    Trucks, gear, equipment are all great on paper... However, there are two things they can't do. Portray an attitude towards the membership and put out fires...
    Don't get me wrong, it sounds like you have alot of company pride. Which is important. But you must ask yourself; are you and your department paying attention to the human side of the equation....

    When a new guy comes in the door: Does the crew know his name, his wifes name... What hobbies he has...

    Do your senior guys have stains on their work shirts from running saws, washing rigs, checking the oil? Do the senior firefighters have dirty fingure nails from being out in the bay floor? Racking lines/ pulling lines with new people, explaining why hose is folded and racked certain ways... Or is the IFSTA manual's explination in the acedemy adequate? Who's setting the example around the firehouse? and is it by example?

    In my humble experience, the GREAT firehouses I've been around, in different parts of the country, are the ones with the most grease spots on the front ramp and the senior guys on the crew have the dirtiest hands.....
    Cause they lead the crew... Dont get me wrong, there was an Officer around. But lets face it, Officers have alot of business to tend to. You need a strong guy on the floor whos not affraid to have high expectations. And to work hard knowing everything in the station and teaching others too.

    The Tung

  19. #44
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    Default Professionalism

    Seeing how you have the latest greatest, do you know how to properly use it effectively. Showing the newbies some professionalism goes along way. Teach them what they need to learn. To keep them interested you have to keep them coming to the firehouse. In my firehouse we have alot of newbies with very little experience. We have decided to have all companies train as one station rather individual companies. This gets everyone working as a team from the beginning. The younger generation needs a little kick in the *** from time to time. Plus, you have to make them feel like they belong to something and have pride in what they are doing.

  20. #45
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    Default west virginia house bill 2080

    I Am A Lieutenant With The Valley Grove Vfd. We Had A Local Politician Come To One Of Our Meetings Wanting To Learn A Little More About The Fire Service. His Office Just Awarded Our Department With A $5,000 Dollar Grant To Help Build A Bridge To The Site Of Our Future Firehouse. While At Our Meeting He Discussed A Bill That He Is Trying To Pass Inwhich Would Give A $500.00 Tax Credit To Anyone Who Is An Active Member In A Volunteer Fire Or Ems Agency. Now $500.00 Seems Small For All The Hard Work We Do, But It Is Start In The Right Direction. So If This House Bill Passes, We Hope That Will Get Some More People Interested. I Will Let You All Know How It Goes. Good Luck To All In There Search For New Membership.

  21. #46
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    Default Tax credit and insurance

    My town offers members of both the FD and EMS (both volunteer) a tax credit.

    It starts after 5 years active membership at $250, increasing yearly after that and capping off at $1000. It's not much, but it means a lot to the members.

    Recently, my FD uncovered a spot in the town (maybe state) charter that allows FD and EMS volunteers to buy into the Town's group insurance. This will allow members who are self-empoyeed to get group rate health and dental insurance through the town. It's still developing, but seems like it will be a great perk to some.

  22. #47
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    What state, RDog 14?

  23. #48
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    Connecticut. (yes, I did add that to my profile after)

    I read over our paperwork and it is a state statute that allows for the insurance options.
    Last edited by RDog14; 05-30-2006 at 04:55 AM.

  24. #49
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    Default Have you ever tried the local college?

    A very valuable resource that many communities overlook is the local college? I am a senior in college and I have just joined our local VFD. I know that our campus is completely overlooked by the community. College students have a lot of free time during the day because we are only in class for 2-3 hours per day and keep late hours. My campus has about 1500 students and it is a residential campus in a town of 15,000 and I am pretty sure I am the only firefighter on it.

    The college campus is a good opportunity it get students to become dedicated volunteers before they become white collar workers. If you start early you can get 4-5 years out of a college student and some might even stay for the summers because they would rather be at college than at home. One of the biggest hurdles to get over is that many fire departments do not like the local college kids because of the amount of false alarms that they have to report to in the middle of the night.

    You would be surprised how many people would be willing to join. You might even want to contact the college and work out a deal so that the student volunteers could receive a little bit if college credit if they respond to a certain amount of calls and this would cost the VFD nothing.

    Just my 2 cents worth!

  25. #50
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    Default students

    The biggest issue brought up in using college students is the length of service most students are here for 2-4 years and then off to a career. Many are from out of town to begin with and will return home after the graduate. Now it is nice to look at the idea that they might continue to volunteer in their "Hometown FD" but, the "Collage town FD" might well suffer. The first thing is to realize that the leadership in the Collage town FD will see little change, that may not necessarily be a bad thing, until the officers get burned out or want to retire. Fact is that the students move on the departments do not. I am not saying it is bad to recruit college students, in fact I love the idea. But I feel that there needs to be a real battle plan on the long term R&R fight. A conservative approach seems best. Consideration of the future and what is best for the student and the FD in the long term must be addressed. That is to say that there is room for innovative ideas and changes, but there are plenty out there that will not like the changes that are needed. Everything in the fire service seems to take few years to become acceptable. Including personnel how many people out there have 7-8 years on a FD and are still treated like it is new to them? Retention is a real issue here as well, recruitment programs attract new recruits but we loose experienced firefighters to, retirement, age, family, etc. and of course burn out. So the million dollar question really is how do we keep them in?

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