1. #51
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    Default Ideas

    I am both paid and volunteer at two different stations and i have noticed that the things that help morale at the paid station are the same things that help get and keep members at the volunteer dept. We don't have just one way we recruit. We us 5 or six different things and with all of them together we have a membership of about 85 people.

    One of the retention tools we use is making everyone that turns in a application part of a team. We have a training packet that each volunteer must complete before they are allowed to function. Each new member that turns in a application starts his training on the first Saturday of the month with all the other people that turned in applications durring the last month. that way they all start together and the training can be more organized. they spend that first day learning all the SOG's and doing anything that needs to be done in the classroom and that can be done without gear. the day is a long one but at the end of it each member is issued their gear which to them is a big deal and something for them to be proud of.

    After they are issued gear they are assigned to one of our 5 duty nights. Our volunteers are all assigned a weeknight sunday through thursday and that is their crew. each duty night has a CAptain and either one or two lieutenants. Each member pulls a shift from 7pm to 7am once a week on their assigned duty night. the friday and saturday nights are on a rotation and everyone ends up pulling "weekend duty" about every ten weeks or so. All new members are assigned to a duty night that the crew on that night is responsible for continuing the training of the probationary firefighter. When they are issued gear they are issued a blue helmet until their training is completed. The new members are also encouraged to come up to the station on some of the other duty nights besides theirs to both finish training faster and also to learn some different ways of doing some things. after completion of the training packet they are issued a certificate to hang on the wall, a patch, a station t-shirt and a black helmet. all together not that big a deal but we make a big deal out of it in the form of a presentation in front of everyone. we even have a guy on the station that is a photographer and he takes their picture and gives it to them later.

    I really think that having the station borken down into smaller crews helps make new people feel welcome. It is a little less imposing and they initially only have to learn 10 or 12 names instead of 85. they also have one set of officers to go to in case there are any problems.

    As far as for recruiting we use many different approaches. Our most successful is word of mouth. We have a very large military base here in town and many of our members are in the military and they bring in friends of theirs from work. Since we have members stay the night up at the station we do not require that our members live within the fire district. This allows young single guys and girls that are in the military and live on base to have somewhere to go and relax and serve the community. We can do this because the big town that we are next to doesn't allow volunteers so many people live in the city but come out and volunteer with us. We also use adds in the base newspaper. Open houses or community relations days are another thing we do. Every July we have a station picinic that is open to the public. Many of the local business come and set up booths, local radop stations broadcast from the station. we have all kinds of activities for the kids and it is tons of fun. At the picinic we set up a information table for the station that tells people how they can join. In october we do a fund raiser haunted trail that has people waiting in line for up to 3 hours. wile they are waiting they look around and get interested. many have come through the trail one night and come back the next wanting to volunteer and help out on the trail. after the trail is over they have made friedns with alot of the members and they join up.

    As for pay we don't pay much at all. Our members are not aoolwed to respond directly to the scene. We have crews at the station to get out the first out trucks so people respond from home to the station and ride the trucks to the calls. We pay $3 if you ride a truck to a call and $1.50 if you come up to the station to cover while the duty crew is out on a call. We also pay $5 a night when you stay at the station. Checks are issued once a year at our christmas dinner that is about 2 weeks before christmas. Mine is usually $1200-$1400 but some people get over $2000. I work 2 hours from home so i'm not around as much as some others.

    A final idea that i have heard of that i thought was great is for college students. A fire dept over on the coast near wilmington build a dorm room building for college students. they can have up to 8 i think. the students are given a free place to stay while they are in college in exchange for being on duty at the station every third night. they are also given $500 a month as a group for food. If they are state certified firefighters they are allowed to work part time and make a little extra money.

    I knwo this is a little long winded but compared to other stations in our area we have a very successful dept and i hope that our ideas might beable to help others get to the same level of staffing

  2. #52
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    Default Ideas

    I am both paid and volunteer at two different stations and I have noticed that the things that help morale at the paid station are the same things that help get and keep members at the volunteer dept. We don't have just one way we recruit. We us 5 or six different things and with all of them together we have a membership of about 85 people.

    One of the retention tools we use is making everyone that turns in an application part of a team. We have a training packet that each volunteer must complete before they are allowed to function. Each new member that turns in an application starts his training on the first Saturday of the month with all the other people that turned in applications during the last month. That way they all start together and the training can be more organized. They spend that first day learning all the SOG's and doing anything that needs to be done in the classroom and that can be done without gear. The day is a long one but at the end of it each member is issued their gear which to them is a big deal and something for them to be proud of.

    After they are issued gear they are assigned to one of our 5 duty nights. Our volunteers are all assigned a weeknight Sunday through Thursday and that is their crew. Each duty night has a Captain and either one or two lieutenants. Each member pulls a shift from 7pm to 7am once a week on their assigned duty night. The Friday and Saturday nights are on a rotation and everyone ends up pulling "weekend duty" about every ten weeks or so. All new members are assigned to a duty night that the crew on that night is responsible for continuing the training of the probationary firefighter. When they are issued gear they are issued a blue helmet until their training is completed. The new members are also encouraged to come up to the station on some of the other duty nights besides theirs to both finish training faster and also to learn some different ways of doing some things. After completion of the training packet they are issued a certificate to hang on the wall, a patch, a station t-shirt and a black helmet. All together not that big a deal but we make a big deal out of it in the form of a presentation in front of everyone. We even have a guy on the station that is a photographer and he takes their picture and gives it to them later.

    I really think that having the station broken down into smaller crews helps make new people feel welcome. It is a little less imposing and they initially only have to learn 10 or 12 names instead of 85. They also have one set of officers to go to in case there are any problems.

    As far as for recruiting we use many different approaches. Our most successful is word of mouth. We have a very large military base here in town and many of our members are in the military and they bring in friends of theirs from work. Since we have members stay the night up at the station we do not require that our members live within the fire district. This allows young single guys and girls that are in the military and live on base to have somewhere to go and relax and serve the community. We can do this because the big town that we are next to doesn't allow volunteers so many people live in the city but come out and volunteer with us. We also use ads in the base newspaper. Open houses or community relations days are another thing we do. Every July we have a station picnic that is open to the public. Many of the local business come and set up booths, local radio stations broadcast from the station. We have all kinds of activities for the kids and it is tons of fun. At the picnic we set up an information table for the station that tells people how they can join. In October we do a fund raiser haunted trail that has people waiting in line for up to 3 hours. While they are waiting they look around and get interested. Many have come through the trail one night and come back the next wanting to volunteer and help out on the trail. After the trail is over they have made friends with a lot of the members and they join up.

    As for pay we don't pay much at all. Our members are not allowed to respond directly to the scene. We have crews at the station to get out the first out trucks so people respond from home to the station and ride the trucks to the calls. We pay $3 if you ride a truck to a call and $1.50 if you come up to the station to cover while the duty crew is out on a call. We also pay $5 a night when you stay at the station. Checks are issued once a year at our Christmas dinner that is about 2 weeks before Christmas. Mine is usually $1200-$1400 but some people get over $2000. I work 2 hours from home so Iím not around as much as some others.

    A final idea that I have heard of that I thought was great is for college students. A fire dept over on the coast near Wilmington build a dorm room building for college students. They can have up to 8 I think. The students are given a free place to stay while they are in college in exchange for being on duty at the station every third night. They are also given $500 a month as a group for food. If they are state certified firefighters they are allowed to work part time and make a little extra money.

    I know this is a little long winded but compared to other stations in our area we have a very successful dept and I hope that our ideas might be able to help others get to the same level of staffing

  3. #53
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    Default re: Insurance for Volunteers through the Town

    Trumbull, CT recently passed a resolution (through work by vol fire & ems) to allow its active members to purchase health/dental insurance through the town at the town rates and level of benefits. Eligibility is tied to tax abatement, meaning we used the same criterea for eligibility for both (makes it easy on both the town and fire/ems to administer).

    If I could suggest one thing to everyone interested in increased R&R, have someone review your state laws, you will likely find a lot of availible incentive plans you may not be aware of some big, some small. Some incentives appeal more to others (for instance, our tax abatement program has had excellent results in increasing responses by previously not so active members).

    Another thing, a lot of volunteer departments I have found have sort of an "us against the world" mentality. You have to get over that, and cut that sort of thinking off every chance you get. To get some of the things you want, you need help. No way aroundit. Better to have good relationships (local PD, EMS, Town Hall) then bad ones. And if they are bad now, don't shrug shoulders, work on mending them. Seriously. We would never have gotten through tax abatement and insurance (and soon LOSAP) ben programs without the coorporation of our town. And for a town's whose average home price is approximately 550-600K, we need all the incentive progams we can get.

  4. #54
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    Thumbs up Well................

    I haven't seen these words, in this order, yet. So here goes:
    YOU HAVE TO GET OUT AND TALK TO PEOPLE.
    The key to reaching prospective Volunteers is reaching People. Anybody. Everybody. The department that reaches out to people is the one that gets folks interested in what is going on in THEIR community. We are in a "Bedroom" area, with homes running from $250K to over $1 Mil. And we get Volunteers from million dollar homes. It CAN be done, but you have to leave the Firehouse to do it. One BIG tip. If your VFD is the type where no one hangs out, there is never anyone there except for meetings, drills, or calls, CHANGE THAT. We have someone in the station 24/7, one way or another. Here, you can wash your car, watch the big screen, Sleep, or whatever. Our station belongs to it's members, in that we have no rules that interfere with having people here because They WANT to be here. Another thing: OPEN THE DAMN DOORS. Our doors are always open, the lights are on, and people are there. We have actually had several people join our organization, rather than a station closer to their home, because they could never find anyone at the closer station. Couple of other points: 1. If you have a residency requirement, get rid of it. Most of our member don't live in our first due, and it doesn't hurt us a bit. 2. If you have a limit on the number of members that you can have, again, get rid of it. In 2006, there is NO reason that a VFD should have a limit on the number of members that it can have. To see more about who we are and what we do, look up www.GDVFD18.Com
    Never use Force! Get a Bigger Hammer.
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    Asst. Chief John R. Woods Sr. 1937 - 2006

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  5. #55
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    Amen. You cannot hide waiting for volunteers to come knocking on your
    door.

    People dearly want to belong to something. That is why there are so many organizations, clubs, groups, churches, etc out there.

    People have to know that you NEED volunteers, you WANT them to become
    involved, and you INVITE them to be there.

  6. #56
    55 Years & Still Rolling
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    Thumbs up Yup!.........

    Quote Originally Posted by LVFD301
    Amen. You cannot hide waiting for volunteers to come knocking on your
    door.

    People dearly want to belong to something. That is why there are so many organizations, clubs, groups, churches, etc out there.

    People have to know that you NEED volunteers, you WANT them to become
    involved, and you INVITE them to be there.
    Looks like I'm not alone........
    Never use Force! Get a Bigger Hammer.
    In memory of
    Chief Earle W. Woods, 1912 - 1997
    Asst. Chief John R. Woods Sr. 1937 - 2006

    IACOJ Budget Analyst

    I Refuse to be a Spectator. If I come to the Game, I'm Playing.

    www.gdvfd18.com

  7. #57
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    Along the lines of recruitment....

    I'll give a brief personal history: Career FIrefighter 10 years....Active Volunteer 19 years. Recentley Not real active due to the distiance from home to the firehouse after buying a new house last year.

    I made application to the local fire company in my community.....They currentley have about 10 active people, are in the process of rebuilding the company, run close to 900 calls a year, and opperate 5 pieces of equipment. During my recruitment interview last month my training was reviewed and I do meet their requirements however they want National FIrefighter I and I believe II. Records indicate that I was "grand-fathered" about 8 years ago to the national standard but I get the impression that this isn't what they want. Basically it looks like to be an active firefighter there I have to go back to FF 1.

    My question once you have FIrefighter 1 and II {through my local academy back in the late 80's, have extensive training, met the Career requirments for my job, and almost 20 years expirence does going back to Firefighter I make sense or should I just throw in the towel and stay where I'm at ?

    If Fire Companies need Volunteers as badly as alot of them say they do than when a guy with expireance who does this as a career comes in to join why make him {or in this case me} start from scratch ? Personally I think it's a waste of money and on occassion I teach the same things I'd be re-doing in FIrefighter I. I still throw ladders the same, opperate apparatus the same, pull the line the same way. I'm all about following rules but does this make sense to anybody ?

  8. #58
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    Quote Originally Posted by BD6413
    Along the lines of recruitment....

    I'll give a brief personal history: Career FIrefighter 10 years....Active Volunteer 19 years. Recentley Not real active due to the distiance from home to the firehouse after buying a new house last year.

    I have openings, and will honor your certs here in Missouri!

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    Thank's LVFD301 I'm happy to see that there are still companies out there that accept firefighters for their expirence as oppsed to a piece of paper.

    I'll have to turn-down the offer however......I'm trying to keep my response down to under 2 miles. It would be a little tough to make a rig at over 1100 miles.

  10. #60
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    It would be a little tough to make a rig at over 1100 miles
    I'll bet Kentland has members that travel that far.

    We don't require National Fire 1, but we do require NJ State Fire 1. IF you have the time, but not the paper, the State gives it to you free/no questions asked anyway. We don't require it to join, but by the end of your first year.
    "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. #61
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    Quote Originally Posted by BD6413
    Thank's LVFD301 I'm happy to see that there are still companies out there that accept firefighters for their expirence as oppsed to a piece of paper.

    I'll have to turn-down the offer however......I'm trying to keep my response down to under 2 miles. It would be a little tough to make a rig at over 1100 miles.

    I somehow don't think you would get the page.....

  12. #62
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    Perhaps a pager with 14 billion jigga - watts ?

    Hopefully you don't opperate on a 800mhz. Digital Radio System. They're priceless. - -

  13. #63
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    Well for anyone who may have my previous posts.....

    I attended the Company Meeting last evening and was voted into the company but......

    Next step is a criminal back-ground investigation conducted by local PD and then sent to the state which could be as long as 6 weeks to be returned. Than a physical, wait for results, than a physc. evaluation. Once all the results are in and the board acts upon them we could be talking the end of November before I can even be issued gear and ride apparatus.

    All this to Volunteer.......As I said I too am also a Career Firefighter and I didn't have to go through any of this for my job except a basic physical and blood work with same day results. However, If I had a criminal back-ground and physc. issues I don't think I'd be in the job I'm in. -- I hope I don't keep hearing ..."Please Volunteer.." or "...What if no one answered your call...." because in the end it all seems like a crock of horse sh** Fire Companies scream and pawl to get people to join and then you have to go through more than getting a regular job to give a few hours a week.

    I'm willing to see this through....I already fight fires, perform EMS skills, and operate apparatus and get paid for it. But I just find it strange that as badly as volunteers are needed through out the US the entrance requirements are outrageous ! Could it be because of issues and requirements like these that quality volunteers can not be retained ? I'm starting to lean in that direction.

  14. #64
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    BD's situation brings up an interesting question.... How professional should a volunteer fire company strive to be ??

    Should there be required physicals as that would eliminate folks with health issues that may increase the chance of a fireground death? Should volunteer companies do a background check to eliminate the possibility that the perspective member has a history of theft or arson? Should they do a psych evaluation to determine if he is a potential arsonist ? Should they be required to complete current training with the new department before running calls, even if they have previous experience or training?

    In short, should the volunteer fire service make the perspective member go through the following steps and make him wait out the process to enhance the professionalism of the department? It is certainly an intersting question, and how much does it affect volunteer recruiting and retention. It is certainly a quandry as many members of the public and goverment officials are demanding (through legislation, among other things) a more "professional" volunteer fire service.

    In my mind, the steps this department are taking are not excessive, but there is no doubt, thier process could have both a positve and negative affect on recruiting. It could be argued that by taking these steps, they are building an organization with a certain amount of pride, as the members have to do more than walk in the door to become a firefighter. On the other hand, I am sure that there have been persepective members (some qualified and some that the process would have weeded out anyways) that became ****ed off with the hoops and process and just left. Like it or not, this is a job, and like employers, volunteer departments have differing levels of screenings and requirements, often based on location and run volume, to become a member. Some are very minimum and lax .. some are more expansive. However, as the cry for "the same training as full-time firefighters" from the state, regulatory and firefighting organizations and the cries of "same service as a career department" gets louder from the community, ask yourself which organization is more likely to be able to meet those demands?
    Last edited by LaFireEducator; 08-08-2006 at 05:36 PM.

  15. #65
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    Having been involved with the membership committee for the last 15+ years, I can honestly say we have not had anyone say "No Thanks" or "Not Interested" once they started the process. Here's how ours works, by "some" method, the person says Yes they want to be a member. They get an application, a physical form, and sign an Ok to have the PD do a background check. They then return the application, physical form, and the signed Ok form to us. PD then does the background check, which is done within 1 or 2 days most times. Assuming all is well, the person meets with our Review Board, which meets the first Tue of each month, and gets the "face to face" interview/discussion. At the end of the Review Board meeting, the regular company meeting is held and the person is voted on as a probationary member. They can be probationary for 6 months up to 1 year, in which time they must start their state FF1. If they already have it, the probation is 6 months while they get used to how "we" do things. We don't make people members and then do all the background checks, we do the background checks first. Also, the person has the option to go to the "Town" doctor for the physical exam at no charge to them. The whole process, from first talking about joining to getting voted on, can be done in less than 1 month.

    It's interesting to see what others do.
    "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?

  16. #66
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    Our process, in my opinion is too lax. We do not require a physical, and do an "informal" background and drivers licence check through the Sheriff's department.

    The perspective member turns in an application, then "observes" for 3 weekly training sessions. After showing up for 3 weekly training sessions, he/she is issued a pager and a vest, and will show up for training and fire calls as a non-participating observer for the next 4 weekly training sessions (may take more than 4 weeks if he/she misses a week of training). At that point, if the officers approve, he/she will be given gear and be able to respond to runs. He/she is not allowed interior and will perform basically support duties until he acquires skills.

    We have a 5 page check-off skill sheet, based on Firefighter 1, which ranges from simple task such as donning gear to interior skills including minimum bottle use training or live fire (under officers supervision) requirements. The average member takes 7-9 months to complete this. Once completed, they are off probabtion and considered a full member/firefighter.

  17. #67
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    Here's a good reason to spend that extra time running background checks, as well as having proper membership guidelines:

    http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/...s/4096023.html

    In this case the background checks were done, showed a prior conviction, but member voted in anyway.

  18. #68
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    Quote Originally Posted by LVFD301
    I somehow don't think you would get the page.....
    Text message paging. Hop on the next plane for smoke showing at a factory.

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