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  1. #1
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    Default Making room with a full roster...

    I see some posts where the departments have full rosters. And don't have room for more people.

    But, what if a person came in interested in joining and was a fully qualified (FF1, EMT, etc..) would you make an exception or still turn the person down?

    Not trying to raise an issue, just posting a question..


  2. #2
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    Why would you turn people away or put them on a waiting list. Is'nt more, better?
    Lead, Follow or Get Out of the Way.

  3. #3
    MembersZone Subscriber mcaldwell's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by stealth View Post
    Why would you turn people away or put them on a waiting list. Is'nt more, better?
    Not always.

    I could have a 40 man dept here in my community, but most of those interested are 18-20 year old kids (ski bums), who want the status and association, but will only be here for 6-12 months (and the party life often comes first). Every dept needs some cutoff.

    We also have a budget to equip 30 members. At $2500-3500 to gear a single firefighter, not including specialty training, I have to try and get the best bang for the buck, usually meaning a member who will give me at least 2 years of thier time.


    But to answer ResQ1's question, we will usually make room for candidates with significant previous experience and/or training. If their training is deemed to meet or exceed our own rookie training course, they can start anytime. If not, they must wait until the regular Winter intake like everyone else.
    Never argue with an Idiot. They drag you down to their level, and then beat you with experience!

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    MembersZone Subscriber voyager9's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mcaldwell View Post
    If their training is deemed to meet or exceed our own rookie training course, they can start anytime. If not, they must wait until the regular Winter intake like everyone else.
    Can you explain that a little bit? You only take in members once a year? How do you keep them "interested" for up to 11.9 months while they wait?
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  5. #5
    MembersZone Subscriber dmleblanc's Avatar
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    I wish I had this problem...most volunteer departments are always in need of more people. If I had the luxury of having qualified people waiting in line to get in, I would certainly be looking to clear out some of the dead wood from the roster. But that's never been the case.

    I can't see turning anyone away. I'm not really even sure how I'd define a "full roster"...in other words, at what number would we have to say, whoa, that's it, we're full? I suppose at some point if you had unlimited people wanting in, it would not be feasible to equip and train them all, and you'd have to set limits, but for now I don't see it happening.

    Can you explain that a little bit? You only take in members once a year? How do you keep them "interested" for up to 11.9 months while they wait?
    I can see the reasoning behind this....if you have potential new members who have no fire background (what we usually get), you have to put them through some kind of basic training before they can be of any value to you. And if you get a number of new members throughout the year, they will all be at a different point in their training. It would be far less complicated to have a "rookie class" of new members who all start at the same point and progress together, rather than trying to train a handful of member who are not all on the same chapter.

    Overall, though, I prefer the idea of grabbing them while they're interested. You make them wait 6 months to a year until the next "rookie class", they're probably not coming back, at least in my experience.
    Chief Dwayne LeBlanc
    Paincourtville Volunteer Fire Department
    Paincourtville, LA

    "I have a dream. It's not a big dream, it's just a little dream. My dream — and I hope you don't find this too crazy — is that I would like the people of this community to feel that if, God forbid, there were a fire, calling the fire department would actually be a wise thing to do. You can't have people, if their houses are burning down, saying, 'Whatever you do, don't call the fire department!' That would be bad."
    — C.D. Bales, "Roxanne"

  6. #6
    MembersZone Subscriber voyager9's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dmleblanc View Post
    I can't see turning anyone away. I'm not really even sure how I'd define a "full roster"...in other words, at what number would we have to say, whoa, that's it, we're full? I suppose at some point if you had unlimited people wanting in, it would not be feasible to equip and train them all, and you'd have to set limits, but for now I don't see it happening.
    We won't limit firefighters, but have a limit on the number of Juniors(16-18) we will accept.


    Quote Originally Posted by dmleblanc View Post
    Overall, though, I prefer the idea of grabbing them while they're interested. You make them wait 6 months to a year until the next "rookie class", they're probably not coming back, at least in my experience.
    We'll bring them into the department when they get through the Application paperwork/background stuff. We'll then get them signed up for FF1 at the County Academy which is typically run twice a year. This acts as the buffer you describe. In the mean time we're getting them involved in the system, meeting the guys, training, calls..etc. The last thing we want to do is turn them away for 6 months until FF1 starts. As you said, we'd never see them again.
    So you call this your free country
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  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by voyager9 View Post
    Can you explain that a little bit? You only take in members once a year? How do you keep them "interested" for up to 11.9 months while they wait?
    I applied before I graduated college, and now about a year later, and having already taken all the tests I need to I finally got an interview next week. I guess I have waited so long, because it is what I really want to do. Plus when your a single graduate, it's not to hard to live off of a part time job...

  8. #8
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    There is no excuse for not making room for a person with experience who wants to volunteer in your community.

    I know of some departments that have manpower limits. Some have a way to bypass that in a situation such as this. Some do not, and generally, that experienced man will not wait around, which to me is a senseless loss of a qualiified firefighter.

    My current department does not have a formal rookie training program. They observe for 7 weeks and come to training. They then are issued gear and respond to calls. They are given a skills checklist, which is basically a Firefighter 1 checksheet (with the skills that apply to our operation) and are expected to complete the checksheet through scheduled department training, outside agency training and one-on-one training within a set period of time. It's not the best system in my mind, but it works most of the time. it does allow us to accpet members anytime, and prevents the loss of intrested folks while they wait around for a formal class.

    My last department did have a formal class. It was a combined rookie class which was about 45 hours long and was run with 3 other mutual aid departments. We ran it 3-4 times a year depending upon need, which was whenever the list for folks that needed it from all 4 departments hit 12 or so.

    While members were waiting for the class they were required to participate in weekly training, allowed to observe on fire scenes and were strongly encouraged to attend all other department functions. It was the feeling of the Chief that even though they could not run calls because they were waiting for the rookie class, they still needed to be made to feel that they were part of the department. We used this system since the mid-70's and it worked very well. The mutual-aid training component has only been in use since 2000. It was added because there was a need for a similiar program in the other departments within our mutual aid circle, and what we were doing seemed to fit the bill. An added advantage is that the guys from all 4 departments get to konw each other, and we are all using the same techniques and procedures on the fireground.

  9. #9
    MembersZone Subscriber mcaldwell's Avatar
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    We used to run a twice annual course, but it was a lot of work for only 3-4 candidates at a time. We needed to drop the summer course to allow more time for technical rescue training, and ensure a decent class size for winter.

    We are a pretty tiny community, with a couple of hundred seasonal "Ski bums" who come out for the winters. Most get thier interest in the FD from friends who are members, and they will wait for the annual intake (it actually builds anticipation in many cases while they see the technical training progressing in the summer).

    I don't expect that to work everywhere, but again, my pool of young short-term kids is long. Good long term candidates are fewer, and usually only become apparent after they have stuck it out a year or so anyway.

    Last edited by mcaldwell; 11-03-2007 at 05:11 PM.
    Never argue with an Idiot. They drag you down to their level, and then beat you with experience!

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  10. #10
    Forum Member wcfpd2601's Avatar
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    On my old dept there was a 20 member cap. This was due to insurance. There were a couple of times that they looked at "uping" the cap and the cost put it out of reach due to the pretty much non existing budget. Most of the time the roster wasnt full so it didnt cause to many problems.
    The success of a fire department depends on the willingness of its members to put aside their differences and work for the benefit of the dept/community.

  11. #11

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    At my department, which is a on call department, when ever we have people that would like to get on we put them through an application/interview period then if the Chief deems it that person will be hired on. We then will run a rookie school when ever we have 5 or more new members. The main problem that we have is keeping members on our roster, and coming to training.

    Does any one have any ideas how to change this so that we keep the roster that we have now?

  12. #12
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    Keeping folks from leaving the fire service is a very complicated issue. I'll just address what I have seen as issues as to why personnel don't come to training:

    Disorganization: Does training drag on because the instructors are props are not prepared? Folks hate to have thier time wasted and if it seems like the folks running the training are disorganized are training doesn't move along at a reasonable pace, folks will simply see it as a waste of thier time. Training sessions need to be planned. Props need to be ready and tested. Folks need to be organized into working groups or teams quickly. The bottom line is if you waste time at training, folks simply won't come.

    Objectives not clear: If you, as training folks don't have clear, consise and realistic objectives when you design the training, the folks attending the training will be even more confused as to what they are supposed to learn, and not want to come.

    Are the skills relevant: Training needs to be tailored to the needs of your folks. Often that may mean breaking up the folks attending into 2 or 3 groups, or skill levels, on the same topic. Rookies need to learn the basics and will be overwhelmed and lost if you lump them into an advanced skills class without the foundation skills. They will not want to attending training for fear they will be "lost in a fog". Experienced folks need to be taught advanced skills and not lumped into a basic class on skills they already know. They want to be challenged. They will be bored and not want to attend training. And you may have a group in the middle that requires some review, not new learning, on the basic skills before you move them on to some of the advanced skills. You need to look at your department to decide, but training does need to often be "layered".

    Does everyone participate: Do your officers activly participate in training, or do they stand around and watch or flitter off to do other tasks? Officers and senior men are leaders, and if they do not activly participate then it is not realistic to expect the line firefighters to feel they need to participate as well. Officers and senior men need to be out there, doing and leading on training nights if you want others to be involved.

    Is it interesting: People need variety. Do you have a mix of classroom and practical? Do you train on a variety of subjects? Do you mix instructors? Do you bring in outside resources? The same ole material taught by the same ole folks week after week is not going to bring in folks. Teaching in a variety of ways with a variety of instructors and thier varying styles will. Use the talents on your department, as well as mutual auid departments or state training resources. Make it interesting.

    Those are just a few things that I have witnessed as to why training, especially in a volunteer department, can be unsucessful. Look honestly at how you are doing it now, and use a variety of ideas to improve it.

  13. #13

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    thanks i will have to try some of the ideas that you have posted and make sure that it doesnt seem like a wast of time for everyone that shows up.

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