Thread: Declining Ranks

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    Default Declining Ranks

    Here is an article that I wrote in a local paper about the declining ranks of the volunteer fire service. How is everyone else on here with the number of fire fighters in your dept?

    http://www.timesonline.com/site/news...d=478569&rfi=8

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    Default

    I guess were fairly lucky, were pretty much full up, although daytime calls can hurt us. 95% of our guys work days and are not avalable for runs untill say 4 PM or so.

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    Default declining ranks

    I hear ya. The majority of our guys work daylight. We are lucky if the engine responds. It is such a shame that 15 years ago most depts. in my area had a waiting list. Now sometimes their apparatus won't even respond!

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    First off, let me commend you, Jason, on the well writen article! Good job!

    Second off, i hear you lound and clear! The station that I am with(one out of the six in our district) has a mere five members, but that goes down into the one or two range during the day. Infact, since i have been heading north everyday, it has often reached into the 0 category on multiple occasions. And when i say 1 or two, that is people that could respond, not necesarily people that do respond. Many times, im the only fire member on scene(we have a private ambulance coverage that is unconnected with the department). And whats more, is that the cheif and I seem like the only ones that realize the problem, and no body else wants to bother with recruiting. What makes this worse(not really complaining about it, cause im glad i have the ability to be part of it) is that Im 16, and a kid coming up to you and saying that you should donate your freetime to risk your life, doesnt really have the same effect as a someone who is atleast over 18, so needless to say, we havent gotten many more members. Not only this but our station, that sometimes has no responding members in its area, is the station to cover the area with the most calls in the whole district. I heard the percentage once, i think it was about 77% or so, and, though it sounds like im bragging im not just telling it how it is, Im the only one that goes. Its hard to reassure a patient who is just a few minutes ago gotten a compound fracture of the leg after falling out of a tree and may also have a head/c-spine injury based in the mech. of injury, that everything will be okey, when your the only one onscene, your under 18, and the only vehicle that says any kind of emergancy services is you POV. I urge you, if you are currently a member of this site, and you live in a volunteer covered area, to just fill out the application. It would help so many people. I cant even discripe how good it feels to see a walking down the street or talking while their eating lunch, that you saved. Please join. Youd not only be helping your communtiy, but yourself and the other responders too. Thank you for reading this.

    Sincerely:

    Cadet. Danny Rogers
    Station 82
    Nestucca Rural Fire Protection District

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    I believe this is becoming a problem in rural america. I dont know about anybody elses dept but in mine the politics always seem to shine through. As an officer it is hard to keep members moral up between calls. We keep a strict training schedule but with todays requirements on firefighters it is hard to get personel to commit their "free time" to the department. Along with what is stated we only have about 50% of our roster show up to day time fire calls. Thats on a good day. I have noticed when talking to the public or a potential future firefighter they always ask what is entailed. I have to respond with commiting time to a fire class along with constant meetings. I dont know what can be done if anything but I am concerned with where the volunteer fire service might be heading.
    Steve
    Lietuenant 107
    Morton Township Fire/Rescue
    "Good to Go"

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    Default Any ideas

    Does anyone out there want to share some recuitment secrets? Anyone have any ideas? My chief before he retired last year went to a council meeting after one guy on the board questioned our response time. He handed each member an application. Funny, none of them turned it in.

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    I have a feeling the wave of the future will be combo departments. The department I am currently on was all volunteer up until 3-4 years ago and it began starting to pay members on a call to call basis. The next step would be combo. With no shortage of industrial parks and sub-divisions going up in my area it's only a matter of time before they will have to start covering during the day with a full-time crew. As previously stated training requirements, two income families, lack of employer interest(i.e., letting an employee leave work), and a lot of farmers who are reaching retirement age selling property to developers for huge profits. It's only a matter of time before more and more volunteer departments go the way of the dinosaur.

    I don't mean that as a slam against volunteering, because I am a volunteer or paid-on-call, however you want to classify it, don't take it the wrong way.

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    I don't know what it is but my department has about 30 probies and more coming in. I wish I could tell you what caused it, but the truth is I don't have a clue. We are still in lean times when it comes to experienced members though. Hopefully these new people stay around long enough to become experienced members.

    Stay Safe

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    We are doing ok with members and get 3-5 new ones each year. I am finding that some of the younger members don't have the dedication. They do not show up for drills (weekly) and do not make many calls. It is frustrating as we spend our money training them and that money could be used elsewhere. We do not have many structure fires so there is that. The new members that have been in the military are much more active. The others become dead wood and we have voted some out for not showing up(2-3 calls in 2 years). Letters have been written and they would rather get tossed then resign.

    DRFD50

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    We get about 3-4 a year also. First, we require potential members to attend 3 business meetings (one per month = 3 months) before their membership is even voted on. You can usually tell if they are interested by this point.

    IF the person attends 3 business meeting and is then voted in, they are granted a probation period of 90 days. At the end of that time, we vote whether or not to make them a full time member. The ones who stuck through this far are "typically" ones who are interested.

    Only after this point, do we invest any money in state-required training. Most of the bad eggs dont make it this far.

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    Default Declining Ranks

    This isn't just a problem we have here in Pennsylvania. This is a national problem and it is getting worse.

    As I've posted here at firehouse.com, per recruitment/retention threads, one solution may be to give active volunteer firefighters/EMS a $1,000/yr. tax credit and a $2,500/yr. scholarship/grant to encourage younger members. Likewise give the employers who let their active FF/EMS employees respond to true emergencies a $1,000 tax credit and if the employer pays wages in excess to this to the employee, for when they're not at work and at emergency scenes, give the employer a 150% tax credit for all amounts over $1K.

    We're also going to see more mergers/consolidations/regionalizations of VFD/EMS services. We're going to see more combined departments as well. The Commonwealth of PA legislature had a study conducted and published in 6/05 that made these points as their most profound recommendations.

    I've more info on all of this posted at http://VFD-Funding.com

    If anybody has any good/viable ideas for effective programs to remediate the problems with recruitment/retention of active volunteer firefighters, you'll probably become a national hero and get the Medal of Freedom.

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    My Department is doing great! We have around 35 or so members, with about 20 folks responding on a regular basis. In fact, we average around 10 members average per call responding. We have about 5 guys on probation right now even. We are lucky enough to collect an ESD tax on property taxes, so we have nearly all new equipment, which I think is some of the draw for recruitment and retention.

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    Question No problem here

    21 members and a waiting list.
    Can't tell you why.

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    Quote Originally Posted by XCAPT1
    I don't know what it is but my department has about 30 probies and more coming in. I wish I could tell you what caused it, but the truth is I don't have a clue. We are still in lean times when it comes to experienced members though. Hopefully these new people stay around long enough to become experienced members.

    Stay Safe
    You"re not the guys on Long Island that have the Tiki Style Juice Bar in the weight Room are ya ?

    Since I see a person from Long Island on here I have a few questions....And I'm not being a smart a** either I'm just curious.

    Why so many stations on Long Island ?
    Why so many duplications of apparatus in close proximity districts
    Why such elaborate fire stations {and don't tell me it's to keep members in the stations in case there is a call...sorry don't buy it}
    If you can explain the wasteful spending on Race Car events and trips to the Carribian - Parties, Banquets, and the like. Is it really nesessary ?
    What solutions are in place to deal with your island's manpower problems ?

    The 'NEWSDAY' Articles tore you guys up and I'm sure didn't include all the facts like the media often does......But seeing is believing com'on $7.7 Million Fire Station with a Night-Club and a Tiki style Juice Bar in the Gym ? Seriously is this nesessary ?

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    Great. Not this again.

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    How many people on this forum has taken a serious approach to recruiting?
    Now before you slam me ... let me tell you what I define as serious:

    A year round commitee whose sole purpose is recruiting. A captain or higher who's primary duty is overseeing the recruiting/retention program. And a dedicated budget line item for recrutiting and retention. And yes .. accountability that they are actually doing thier job to the Chief.

    Seriuos planned and coordinated multi-media recruiting efforts 2-3 times a year using signs, local TV, newspaper articles and community outreach booths in stores, etc TARGETING the likely canidates for membership.

    The addition of "special member" catogories for those who do not want to fight fires. This includes, driver only, EMS only, fireground support only, public education, management/administration, planning and communications.

    How many of your chief officers have taken a course at a local community college on effective marketing? Beleive it or not the same things that work for business will work for the fire service.

    Conducted in house surveys on what motivates your members (and in turn, likely new members) and then IMPLEMENTED comprehensive motivational programs to reward your members. Many motvational techniques require NO money, and those that do generally require a small investment. The key to motivating and retaining members is understanding how they want to be recognized .. if you do it, they will stay.

    Attempted to get a small property tax reduction for the members in your community. Or maybe a small incentive in the form of slightly reduced taxes to allow members to respond.

    My point is there are many ways that we can effectivly recruit and retain quality personnel, but it will require a serious, year round, targeted and consistent effort. There are people out there who want to volunteer and just don't know it .. we have to find the key that will lead them to us. And after we bring them in, there are many tools at our disposal to retain them, as long as we expand our horizons and look into the world of business and other volunteer agencies to seek the techniques they use so effectivly. Yes, there are some communties where demographics are against us, and those demographics may lead to paid firefighters down the road, but that's no reason to give up without a SERIOUS fight.
    Last edited by LaFireEducator; 11-28-2005 at 09:58 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LaFireEducator
    How many people on this forum has taken a serious approach to recruiting?
    Now before you slam me ... let me tell you what I define as serious:

    A year round commitee whose sole purpose is recruiting. A captain or higher who's primary duty is overseeing the recruiting/retention program. And a dedicated budget line item for recrutiting and retention. And yes .. accountability that they are actually doing thier job to the Chief.

    Seriuos planned and coordinated multi-media recruiting efforts 2-3 times a year using signs, local TV, newspaper articles and community outreach booths in stores, etc TARGETING the likely canidates for membership.

    The addition of "special member" catogories for those who do not want to fight fires. This includes, driver only, EMS only, fireground support only, public education, management/administration, planning and communications.

    How many of your chief officers have taken a course at a local community college on effective marketing? Beleive it or not the same things that work for business will work for the fire service.

    Conducted in house surveys on what motivates your members (and in turn, likely new members) and then IMPLEMENTED comprehensive motivational programs to reward your members. Many motvational techniques require NO money, and those that do generally require a small investment. The key to motivating and retaining members is understanding how they want to be recognized .. if you do it, they will stay.

    Attempted to get a small property tax reduction for the members in your community. Or maybe a small incentive in the form of slightly reduced taxes to allow members to respond.

    My point is there are many ways that we can effectivly recruit and retain quality personnel, but it will require a serious, year round, targeted and consistent effort. There are people out there who want to volunteer and just don't know it .. we have to find the key that will lead them to us. And after we bring them in, there are many tools at our disposal to retain them, as long as we expand our horizons and look into the world of business and other volunteer agencies to seek the techniques they use so effectivly. Yes, there are some communties where demographics are against us, and those demographics may lead to paid firefighters down the road, but that's no reason to give up without a SERIOUS fight.
    Very well put, I know my dept could be more proactive. You can't just sit and wait for people to walk through the door!
    IACOJ Lt-Eng32ine

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    Quote Originally Posted by LaFireEducator
    A year round commitee whose sole purpose is recruiting. A captain or higher who's primary duty is overseeing the recruiting/retention program. And a dedicated budget line item for recrutiting and retention. And yes .. accountability that they are actually doing thier job to the Chief.
    This is pretty hard to do when you have limited personel already. If they could oversee along with their already-assigned duties, it's a good idea. Just not practical if they already have too much to do.

    Quote Originally Posted by LaFireEducator
    Seriuos planned and coordinated multi-media recruiting efforts 2-3 times a year using signs, local TV, newspaper articles and community outreach booths in stores, etc TARGETING the likely canidates for membership.
    Again, in small departments, $ are an issue. We struggle to keep up with new/newer equipment, much less $3000 for a radio or TV spot.

    The rest of these suggestions are pretty good and should help. We use banners, paper ads, community newsletters, community activities, etc... Seems to work pretty well.

  19. #19
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    Thumbs up Well Said!

    Quote Originally Posted by NRFPD82
    First off, let me commend you, Jason, on the well writen article! Good job!

    Second off, i hear you lound and clear! The station that I am with(one out of the six in our district) has a mere five members, but that goes down into the one or two range during the day. Infact, since i have been heading north everyday, it has often reached into the 0 category on multiple occasions. And when i say 1 or two, that is people that could respond, not necesarily people that do respond. Many times, im the only fire member on scene(we have a private ambulance coverage that is unconnected with the department). And whats more, is that the cheif and I seem like the only ones that realize the problem, and no body else wants to bother with recruiting. What makes this worse(not really complaining about it, cause im glad i have the ability to be part of it) is that Im 16, and a kid coming up to you and saying that you should donate your freetime to risk your life, doesnt really have the same effect as a someone who is atleast over 18, so needless to say, we havent gotten many more members. Not only this but our station, that sometimes has no responding members in its area, is the station to cover the area with the most calls in the whole district. I heard the percentage once, i think it was about 77% or so, and, though it sounds like im bragging im not just telling it how it is, Im the only one that goes. Its hard to reassure a patient who is just a few minutes ago gotten a compound fracture of the leg after falling out of a tree and may also have a head/c-spine injury based in the mech. of injury, that everything will be okey, when your the only one onscene, your under 18, and the only vehicle that says any kind of emergancy services is you POV. I urge you, if you are currently a member of this site, and you live in a volunteer covered area, to just fill out the application. It would help so many people. I cant even discripe how good it feels to see a walking down the street or talking while their eating lunch, that you saved. Please join. Youd not only be helping your communtiy, but yourself and the other responders too. Thank you for reading this.

    Sincerely:

    Cadet. Danny Rogers
    Station 82
    Nestucca Rural Fire Protection District
    Danny,
    You did a good job saying what you did as well!
    Mark Zanghetti
    FF-EMT
    Goshen Fire Dept.
    Waterford, CT

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    Default Possible cause of interest surges

    I saw a few departments have had an influx of new young applicants. I have one possible explaination: "Ladder 49" It may sound far fetched, but the recent release of that movie might be a reason.

    Just an interesting side note: after the release of "Top Gun" in 1986, Navy recruiters saw a surge in flight school applicants.

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    I don't know where you guys are, but I have to say that the departments in my area are not having a problem. The only reason I say that is because I have been trying to join for about a year and half now and keep getting turned down. The first department actually just expanded it's size, and apparently had plenty of applicants lined up to fill the new spots. I was in line, but got turned down because I don't have any training, but that's a different story. I'm working on the department in the next township over now, and I'm waiting to hear back from them. But looking at this thread, it appears that if I was anywhere else I would have been on a year ago.

    Now there are some other factors in my situation, like the fact that I don't have any training. I am also a non-local student, so I wouldn't be around over Christmas and summer and such, but the fact is, the whole town shuts down over those times because all the students go home, and the students really make up 70% of the community. But I am also available to respond day or night, and I realize that this is going to sound like me bragging, but when I join something, I am dedicated to the max. Granted in two or three year when I graduate (hopefully), I will probably be leaving the area, but I can pretty much promise two years of hard, dedicated membership.

    Hopefully that second department will go ahead and accept me, otherwise I don't know that I have a lot of other options.....

    As far as recruiting ideas, in the smaller communities, some of local news people might be interested in doing a little story on the fire dept. and best of all, they'll usually do if for free.
    Otherwise, if you guys have an annual picnic or parade, park your equipment out where everbody can see it and put a big poster with something like: "Want to drive me? Inquire within" or something like that.

    Stay safe
    "We ride and never worry about the fall, I guess that's just the cowboy in us all" - George Strait

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