1. #1
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    Default Volunteer Orientation

    What forms of new volunteer orientation are out there?

    We are a suburban combo (arguably mostly volunteer) ambulance and fire department. We've greatly overhauled our recruitment and orientation program in the last few years. Once a year we blanket the community with signs and accept applications for any of the positions (fire, emt, driver...)

    The orientation for everyone is about 8 nights in one month as follows:
    Welcoming night: Who we are, What we do, How we do it
    OSHA requirements
    CPR
    First Aid
    CISM
    Department and Fire Service History
    HazMat Awareness
    Basic Ambulance Operations: stair chair, stretcher, BLS bag, etc.
    IS 100 & 700 online

    What are your experiences with extended orientations such as this? What helps keep you from losing volunteers in the first few months?

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    That's an extended orientation? Ours lasts your entire probationary period pretty much, which can be from six months, to a year and a half. In that time you get all the basic classes, and learn about department history, rules and regs, and everything else.

    Yours sounds like a pretty structured orientation, which is good. The biggest thing to keep from losing volunteers, is to make sure you get people that want to be there. Unfortunately, some people only come for "glory", and when they aren't heroes in the first twenty minutes they are gone. Another big factor is the amount of training continually being piledupon us as volunteers. I'm not against learning stuff, and I attend as much as possible throughout the year, but in PA, asking someone for 180 hours for essentials of firefighting, and another 100 or so for EMT, and 32 for Hazmat awareness, though necessary for the job, is a time committment some people just can't do.

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    Welcoming night: Who we are, What we do, How we do it
    We do this with the person before they even join. We let them know, up front, what is expected of them. They are on probation/orientation for 1 year from when they join.

    We do not get very many that join and are only around a few months. We find that the ones that decide to join, stay for years.
    "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?

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    Quote Originally Posted by jerry4184 View Post
    Ours lasts your entire probationary period pretty much, which can be from six months, to a year and a half. In that time you get all the basic classes, and learn about department history, rules and regs, and everything else.
    I just want to clarify that I'm not talking about probation or training period at all. After orientation, you're still a probationary member and have to complete your job-specific classes. The orientation covers the initial, general requirements that allow someone to begin taking other classes.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bones42
    We do this with the person before they even join. We let them know, up front, what is expected of them.
    The app packet has the hours listed and such. The welcome night expands on that to get into how calls are dispatched, more functional station tour, etc.

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    Beginning of our app process, you get this and also "face to face" time with a few members. Depending on how that all goes, the application gets reviewed.
    "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?

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    Red face

    Our new people show up at a nightly meeting / psuedotraining exercise. They express an interest and depending on their personality and skill offerings they become an official member by receiving a pager, lol. Usually they get one at around their third attendance. After that, they get issued a set of turnouts, and they're good to go. It might be years before they're trained.

    I was given my pager the first night, lol. I was the chief's next door neighbor, and he'd known me for 15 years. I was in college at the time and had ample free time to respond to fires, plus I was an EMT which he found handy. About a year later I took the required four hour wildland fire suppression course, and maybe a year after that we held the two 12 hour classes that new people need (protective equipment and intro. to fire protection). Prior to that I'd still been fighting fires, but without a certificate which I don't think really matters. In total, an Arkansas firefighter's certification is only 24 clock hours. Since then they've held a BLS for healthcare providers course which I didn't take as I already had it, and they've had an auto extrication certification class that I sort of attended while working for the county ambulance that day as a paramedic.

    We don't do much training.

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    We restructured ours about two and a half years ago with very good success. Today we do the following.

    Applications are accepted anytime, and "trained" candidates can be brought on anytime with the Officer's group approval, but recruiting is only done once per year.

    1. All new candidates complete an application, and the Officer's group selects the best candidates for invitation.

    2. Potential candidates recieve an invite letter to a meet-and-greet drill night a few weeks before the next scheduled basic training course. A simple demo is usually planned so they can see the crew at work, and the expectations and committment are laid out.

    3. If they are still interested and have submitted thier criminal record check, medical, and references on time, they are scheduled on our 40-hour basic skills course which consists of:
    -6 weekly drill nights, covering safety and orientation, misc theory lessons, and the final testing.
    -Two 10hr training days covering the practical portion of the core FF'ing skills.

    4. In addition to the testing phase, all candidates are subject to a minimum of two months probation and peer review (with additional mentoring and training throughout).

    5. After two months of probation, they are voted-in by the members. No one fails the vote, it is just a show of trust and formality by the membership. If they are not making the cut, they will have been asked to leave before now.

    Ongoing training continues relentlessly all year long, and rookies recieve a blue stripe on thier helmet for an additional 6 months after basic training to identify non-interior duty only.

    Total time from first application to vote-in averages about 6 months. We are a POC department as well, but the probies do not get compensated for any expenses until they are voted-in.
    Last edited by mcaldwell; 06-18-2007 at 09:43 PM.
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    fireusafpro
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    Cant imagine a volunteer has too much of an orientation. The standards are just not at all close to the Professional level. The vollie depts. that i know of are so understaffed that they will let anyone with a heartbeat join. I think volunteer dept. would have a better "image" to the knowledgeable public if there were better standards and "selection process". Let alone the training or skills. Last but not least Professionalism.

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    Quote Originally Posted by fireusafpro View Post
    Cant imagine a volunteer has too much of an orientation. The standards are just not at all close to the Professional level. The vollie depts. that i know of are so understaffed that they will let anyone with a heartbeat join. I think volunteer dept. would have a better "image" to the knowledgeable public if there were better standards and "selection process". Let alone the training or skills. Last but not least Professionalism.
    Don't go away mad profire, just go away.
    Be for Peace, but don't be for the Enemy!
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    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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    As far as new candidates go we have a system that could surely use some work.

    First thing is the candidate fills out an application. Gives any previous firefighting experiance and asks a few other questions about the applicant. This is followed by an interview with the committee with the Chief,Two Captains and a Senior FF. If they are successfull they are voted in at a meeting. Being in a small town this have it's advantages at times because everybody knows everybody. I've only ever seen two people be turned away only because other members not on the interviewing committee, knew things about the members that made the majority vote against. If they pass this phase they are put on a six month Probation period, although I beleive they want to change it to a year. During this phase they come to training,calls and various dept events and this is usually a deciding factor on whether they are taken off the probation or simply sent home. If all is well they then become "full fledge" members of the dept and put on their FF 1 courses etc
    If someone with multiple personalities threatens to kill himself, is it considered a hostage situation?

    Ryan

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