1. #26

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    Default incentives

    Well I have been reading all the replys and I know where alot of folks are coming from. I Volunteer because I want to and don't expect anything in return. I belong to a department that has no extra money to do anything. But it would be nice to give your people something to show the department cares. Beleive it or not I find with younger folks they just want to know they are making a differance. Give the member something to do other then just coming to a fire at 2am etc. Give them jobs outside of fighting fires so they can have a sense of an accomplishment etc. Some times just a good old fashion pat on the back is good enough. Fire Fighting is a brother hood whether it is paid or volunteering.

  2. #27
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    Incentives can be many things. I'd love to be in a position to offer my guys a PS3 or a TV, but we just don't have the money.

    Right now, I'd settle for enough cash to host a BBQ, give away some shirts, lights, Home Depot cards, etc.

    And as for the "pat on the back"--printing up "Honorary Pat-on-the-Back" awards and putting them in a frame can do some good. I reserve those awards for such things as getting the engine stuck in a ditch, falling in a creek, and showing up for a call at 0200 with your shirt on inside-out and backwards.
    Bryan Beall
    Silver City, Oklahoma USA

  3. #28
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    Default Incentives

    Here is what we did in West Virginia. We pettioned the state to provide a retirement plan for vollies. Here is how it works. . . . . Every volunteer Fd in WV gets state money every year. Its not a whole lot but it is based on money recieved from a fire service fee applied to all taxpayers. All monies collected for the retiremant plan are put into one intrest bearing account. Then starting in the year 2010 anyone who has 20 years of active service in the State of WV will be eligable to recieve a $400.00/ month pension. Now it is not a short term fix but it has actually given WV vollies a reason to stay active.
    Raymond W. Costain

  4. #29
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    As for giving incentives to "active" vollies, How do you decide who is active and who isn't? Dont get me wrong, I agree with the idea but: Say you work full time daylights at your job and the bulk of your calls are during the time you are at work. But you make the majority of evening and night calls. Are you "active" or "inactive"? If you give a point value to calls and the bulk of your calls are during daylight hours, then you are probably going to be inactive. Therefor you are giving an unfair advantage to people who work nights or afternoon shifts. This could actually make a member angy and push him or her away. My suggestion is this. Give percentages to each of the following catagories.

    1) calls 40%

    2) training 30%

    3) fundraising 15%

    4) Meeting 15%


    If the member attends 25% of the overall functions stated above they are considered active members. If below 25% then they are inactive. Then all active members are given a monatary value based on their percentage. At the end of the year the fire department will then give the member the option of banking there money or purchase something at that time. However instead of a ps3 or a lcd tv make it something they can use on calls such as extrication gloves or a light for there pov or if your state permits a siren for there pov. Something like that they can use while still giving back to there department. It doesnt have to be the items I suggested above. You decide what works for your department. One more idea before I go. With the ever rising cost of gas, a fuel card will go a long way!
    Raymond W. Costain

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    Nope. You don't get anything other than knowing you made a difference in your community on that call. You shouldn't need incentives to get people to come out for stuff like that.
    Last edited by ndvfdff33; 02-25-2008 at 10:21 PM.
    If someone with multiple personalities threatens to kill himself, is it considered a hostage situation?

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  6. #31
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    We use the LOSAP program too. We have a points system to go by so you don't automaticly get the money in your account. I'm not sure how much of an incentive this is. Most of us max out really early towards our funds so it's not much of an incentive for me (I would be doing it anyway). I think it gets some guys that are on the line to put more effort in. For me since I don't do this for the money, it will be a nice little something extra when I retire.

  7. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by JimFightsFire07 View Post
    most of our college guys run to the call or ride a bike. Others only live up the street. Now back onto the incentives issue. We have a point system but that is to make sure we stay active and we are still part of the department. How about this for an incentive. I joined a year ago, in that year i did 200+ hours of out of house training, received my fire fighter one and now am hoping to be registered with the pro-board, while still looking for firefighter 2. I now look at my life and think maybe this is what i would actually like to do. Now if u are only looking at this post good for you. And one more thing, what if we do want to do it for the community. What if we do get satisfaction from helping someone, what if we do like seeing posted on the board in the department of another thank you card for helping someone out. Personally i see nothing wrong with it and those who do, like u make yourself seem with the whole do it for the community thing should find something else.
    I must admit that you doing all this training and being the top responder and whatever is pretty awesome. I just want to know how you did this while spending time with your wife and four small children, coaching your son's various sports teams throught the whole year, serving on your church committee, while keeping a full time job, and working all of that overtime just to get by, and provide everything else for your family? That must be great that you have job and house within walking or biking distance of your firehouse! I give you credit man

  8. #33
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    Thumbs up

    Our district sets aside a set amount of money every year. We have a point system in place that emphasizes training by awarding a higher point value to trainings and a multiplier for achieving Certs. At the end of the year $50 is put into a clothing/equipment account for each active member. Active membership is based off of a 66% participation in trainings, meetings and events. We exclude calls because everyone wants to strap on a firetruck and run a call. The money left over is divided by the total number of points earned district wide to calculate a point’s value. A reimbursement is then given to each member up to a set dollar amount. Any money earned over the reimbursement limit is placed into the members clothing/equipment account to avoid the tax issue. The reimbursements are given out at a yearly appreciation dinner that includes recognition, awards and gifts (T-shirts, flashlights, hats Etc). I give my reimbursement to my wife to go shopping as a thank you for all the dinners she’s kept warm and canceled plans. Our district also has a family picnic every year too. Our membership is still declining for all of the reasons mentioned in this thread. We still “thank” our members because those that we do have enable us to keep the doors open and it’s a small price to pay to increase the chances of holding on to them for one day longer.
    We all have the guys that love some aspect (whackers excluded) of being a volunteer firefighter and would continue without the dinners, gifts and stipends. And if those 4 guys were around 24 hours a day and I if I could handle every call with just those 4 guys and if grasshoppers had machine guns birds would mess with them…..
    Chief keep trying to come up with innovative ideas and try them. We are all painfully aware that your/our membership is going to keep dwindling until you/we or the public figure it out.
    You motivate someone by building a fire within them, not under them.

  9. #34
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    There are some really good ideas in this thread.

    I am involved with the Idaho Volunteer Firefighters Association. This year we are attempting for the first time to get a LOSAP program through our State Legislature. It is probably not going to happen this year. The State agency that administers the State retirement system is extremely resistant to the idea of a new pension fund for volunteers. We will keep trying though.

    I personally like the idea of awarding points for attending different types of activities and being able to spend those points for awards. Kind of like the old green stamps catalogs. I wouldn't award points for actual calls, but drills, training classes, public education or public events, fundraising.

    It ought to be made very clear exactly how many points you earn for a specific type of event. It might even be time based. 2 hr drill, 1 point, 8 hr training class 4 pt. The program would have to be absolutely rigid in how the points are awarded. No bonus points ever. Attendance tracked religiously.

    Regular statements so that people could track how many points they have earned and spent. If someone wants an item that isn't in your awards catalog, there ought to be a "cash value" policy, say 1 point is $5, so that the department could buy the person the item that they wanted. I wouldn't allow the points to be turned into actual cash however.

    This year Pres Bush signed into law that incentives for volunteers will be tax free in the future. I don't believe how this will affect awards programs like this, LOSAP, pay-per-call programs has been determined. As far as I know, the IRS has not promulgated implementing regulations yet. It is something to keep in mind though. I believe under current law, if you were to reward your members with prizes worth more than $650? in a year, you would have to give them a 1099 (maybe 1099G) and they would owe income tax on the value of the award. Consult a real tax attorney though to be sure.

  10. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by Irish6019 View Post
    I I do however strongly disagree that there should be a known program that promotes bad behaviors. Working towards getting the new tv, or other item is something that shouldn't be encouraged.
    I don't follow here. If the person is meeting established criteria (and IMO the criteria posted in the original post is pretty significant) just to get the tv, PS3, or whatever......didn't the most important thing of all....the service to the public....get done? Maybe I have it wrong...but as a Volunteer company officer with 18 years in I could care less what motivates someone to answer the call, get the training, and do the grunt work as long as they are motivated and the job gets done.

    Honestly...is this any different than having members who join up as a volunteer to get a leg up on getting a career position at a later date?

  11. #36
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    I just read through this thread and am glad to see there is a discussion going.
    I am in a medium sized town in Connecticut where the cost of living is sky rocketing. The type of members we are trying to recruit are the fathers that are settled in town and not going anywhere. Sure, we get our fair share of teenaged kids that turn out to be EXCELLENT members. Problem is, they grow up, get an education, and can't afford to live in town. So by the time they turn 18, and are trained at FF1, they are moved out.
    So the question becomes how do we get the middle aged men? Again, with the cost of living sky rocketing (property taxes are said to go up 12% next year, and for a cape on a half acre i pay in the area of $7k), people are having to work 50 - 60 hours a week to keep up instead of the norm of 40. Add to that having a wife, kids, where is the time?
    Furthermore, no one works in town anymore, and no businesses allow their employees to leave for calls, which are two ways that volunteer departments have always thrived in the past. Yes, we have a LOSAP retirement plan, and we have a tax abatement plan. But the tax abatement is only $250 after 3 years, and tops out at $1000. A great perk, but hardly an incentive for all the time you are going to be putting in.

    We are struggling with what will drive members to join? We do all the little things, picnics, dinner dances, gas cards for calls, LOSAP, tax abatement, use of our hall, etc. etc. etc. but what is actually going to get them in the door? What can we offer these fathers, husbands, to join and be a part of our organization?

    Keep it up...

  12. #37
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    Wow, there are some great ideas on here. My two cents: Responding to calls should count due to the cost of fuel these days. Everyone knows that it is the same 2 or 3 people that show up for the 2 am frequent flyer that is always drunk or just lonely. Everyone knows that its the same 2 or 3 people that show up for the natural gas odor call on the far end of the district. The money I get every year, about $300, doesn't begin to cover the cost of the cell phone I dropped in the water during the floods, the sunglasses I have lost on calls, the clothes I have ruined on calls, the gear I have paid for myself, or the fuel it takes to drive to the station. It actually "costs" me to be a volunteer firefighter. Thank God I can afford it!!

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    Until participating in this thread, I thought counting response to calls was important, too. But I've since changed my mind.

    While I agree with what you say Heidi (believe me, it costs me to volunteer too), I don't think missing calls should count against you. I think they should count as extra above the training/meetings/workdays. Reason being, sometimes you just aren't available. My VFD only runs 100 calls a year. There's been a two month stretch where I was at work for every call.

    If you set a percentage of call attendance, now you risk forcing people who can't make a call to take a hit against their total. And if you excuse absences (say, for work) then someone has to keep up with the endless reasons.

    And like it or not, you probably won't ever get everybody to turn out for those 3 AM non-injury lift assists, I'm afraid.

    Bryan Beall
    Silver City, Oklahoma USA

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    At our department, we tally the total calls each person made for each month, after the total is done, we post a 'crew of the month' list, kind of a cheap pat on the back, then, at the end of the year, we always have an awards banquet, at this awards banquet we award a total of $700.00 for the top 3 call runners for the year, $400 to the top runner, $200 to 2nd place, and $100 for 3rd place, it's not much, but hey, it's an incentive to get the firefighters out and keep them active.

  15. #40

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    Default vol incentive

    [QUOTE=achief15;904319]Anybody have a "rewards" type program for attendance to calls, training and department functions?

    Our volunteers (me included) are eligible for the FRA and other benes same as career. Specifically about rewards for participating in training, etc... I seem to be a bit of a contrarian. I look at it the same way I do safety incentive programs at my paid job : shouldn't pay people to be safe, it's a part of the job. If I for instance, have decided to be a part of the team and make that committment, I consider it an obligation (if not just plain good sense) to get all the training I can and participate all I can. Not that incentives per se are not a good thing, but I would think it better in the long run to make sure the Vollies are made to feel a part of the team - gear, apparell, inclusion, and don't send em out to buy a Krutezenheimer Hydrant Wrench (the red one not the blue one!) or anything else that doesn't exist A good example in our District is that in and out-of-district vollies are treated a lot differently - own gear vs dogpile, pictures on the board are kept separated, etc... While I understand the practicalities of that, it would go a long way in keeping vollies to eliminate that distinction

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    I'm a volly at a combo department. I live 3.5 miles from the station with a killer stop light I can't avoid, not to mention "our driver" lives 200 yards from the station. Needless to say, I never make a truck. I still go to as many calls and classes as I can, I've bought parts of my own gear (helmet, boots, ect.), and I'm not going to stop volunteering. I do wish though, I could get a little help with fuel. I'm not in it for the money, I like doing what I'm doing, but with gas prices at $3.26 a gallon (and rising), $5-7 dollars a call would really help our members be able to afford actually responding. I understand the meaning of "Volunteer" but with the cost of living being so high, how much longer is the strictly "Volunteer" lifestyle going to survive?

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    I got kind of lost in the bickering over whether there should be "rewards programs" so someone may have already posted this. Our department is looking into a points/rewards system. And there would be a minimum point requirement to stay in the department as an active member (if you only want to show up for the "serious calls" you can hand out drinks with the rest of the auxilary). Any points above and beyond that minimum get banked and once or twice a year those points will be given a dollar value and the members can basically go on a fire related shopping spree and the department will pay for it up to the dollar value of their points. So lets say you've been eyeing a new flashlight for your helmet or a new radio strap or you want to add to the 200 lbs tool box in your bunker pants. And for the ones with high points maybe that leather helmet you've wanted doesn't seem so far out of your price range when the department is footing $300 worth of the bill. In a department that only runs a 1000 calls a year there is really no need for a cap, but if you're running 2 or 3,000 a year yes a limit would probably be needed.
    I live to train so you can train to live.

  18. #43
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    Quote Originally Posted by rescuedawg View Post
    We use a LOSAP pension fund. After 65 you get 20 per month for every year of active service and you can continue to add years even after you start collecting.Our other top responders also get the first shot at going to Fire or EMS expos out of state.
    Yeah, we also use the LOSAP system. I started my first year this year and I've already got all of my points, which I only found out about the whole system Monday night.
    Pinewald Pioneer Vol. Fire Co. No. 1 Sta. 20
    "Piney Power"

    Berkeley Emergency Response Team (B.E.R.T./Haz-Mat/WMD/CBRNE) Station 85
    Berkeley Township, New Jersey 08721

  19. #44
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    As Fire Commissioner I'm looking for a way to compensate our Volunteers. I've asked if they wanted more money per run and their response was no!! They wanted fire gear...i.e. spanner wrenches, flashlights etc.....Any suggestions???

    Respectfully,
    Jay Dudley, Fire Commissioner District#2
    Respectfully,
    Jay Dudley
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    Quote Originally Posted by JayDudley View Post
    As Fire Commissioner I'm looking for a way to compensate our Volunteers. I've asked if they wanted more money per run and their response was no!! They wanted fire gear...i.e. spanner wrenches, flashlights etc.....Any suggestions???

    Respectfully,
    Jay Dudley, Fire Commissioner District#2
    I wish we could get something like that.
    Pinewald Pioneer Vol. Fire Co. No. 1 Sta. 20
    "Piney Power"

    Berkeley Emergency Response Team (B.E.R.T./Haz-Mat/WMD/CBRNE) Station 85
    Berkeley Township, New Jersey 08721

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    Quote Originally Posted by JayDudley View Post
    As Fire Commissioner I'm looking for a way to compensate our Volunteers. I've asked if they wanted more money per run and their response was no!! They wanted fire gear...i.e. spanner wrenches, flashlights etc.....Any suggestions???

    Respectfully,
    Jay Dudley, Fire Commissioner District#2
    See my previous post.
    I live to train so you can train to live.

  22. #47
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    Default Point taken

    Thanks...Being from a larger department and not having volunteers I was shocked when they said they were not in it for the money. Points are nice but with the price of gasoline now days isn't money more of a reward?? We have a Commissioners meeting today and will be discussing this very issue and will mention the replies I've received.

    Thanks,
    Jay Dudley, Fire Commissioner
    District#2
    Respectfully,
    Jay Dudley
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    JayDudley,

    Even if my department paid for my gas, as much as that would be appreciated, if I was doing it for the money, I go get another job. I'd much rather get a good handlight or something to make my volunteering more enjoyable.

    That's just me. One of the department's around here pays minimum wage to guys for fire calls. There's a whole lot of stuff that's less work I can do for more than minimum wage...
    Bryan Beall
    Silver City, Oklahoma USA

  24. #49
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    Thanks for all the great responses. I think that the overall majority of our Volunteers have said they would like gear. They are not doing it for the $$'s Some have even said that they would pay for the experience and training. But we all know that will not happen. I'm just glad to have those individuals show up to our responses.

    Respectfully,
    Jay Dudley, Fire Commissioner
    District #2
    Respectfully,
    Jay Dudley
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  25. #50
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    Interesting thread! Volunteers here get nothing. Individual Stations may subsidise the annual dinner - in our case that comes from profits taken on selling cans of soft drink at reduced prices!

    There have been a few posts on tracking performance. That we do. Members are required (Brigade Standing Orders) to meet a percentage of meetings, training and turnouts. 50% of the first two. For turnouts, we've divided the week into three parts -

    'DAY' which is 7am to 5pm Monday to Friday.
    'NIGHT' which is 5pm to 7am Monday evening to Friday morning.
    'WEEKEND' which is 5pm Friday to 7am Monday.

    One of those periods is removed for each member, eg DAY for those who work days, NIGHT for those who work nights. Members are required to respond to a percentage of the other two time slots. This was done because to simply run all calls together disadvantages most members. For instance, I'm the leading member for turnouts (222 out of 279 for 2007), training and meetings. Does that make me the super-member? No it's because I'm available - I don't work and I live alone, very different situation to most people. So any 'straight' award system would favour me.

    The point of my post? Perhaps our system of recording calls could work for others.
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