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  1. #21
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    Some say that incentives are a sad thing to see. I am 22, and I started when I was 16. I used to have about 40% response rate/year and thats being a few hundred miles away from the dept while at school. Those responses where when I was home. Now that I am home, and working I do not have the time to "volunteer" for free like that anymore. Sad? Sure. but when I can make $30+/hr as a RN to pay off the 10's of thousands of dollars I have in school loans, how can you compare. I am single and do not have a lot of $ left over at the end of the month. I am not spending it on booze/drugs/vaca, it goes towards my tuition/daily expenses ie: car/utiliies/rent. I am not posting this for a pitty reply. I am posting this because until people understand why volunteers are dwindling and the need for incentives goes up, the problem will only worsen. As others stated above; if you paid someoen $5/call it would be much more than the year end incentive. In that case the incentive is SAVING everyone around A LOT of MONEY. Think an EMT-B gets paid 8-12 dollars/hr for a paid service+ benefits. Right there you are saving money even if you paid$5/call. We need to treat our emergency service employees appropriately or one day we will call 911 and either get NO RESPONSE or a $5000 bill for what is now a $500/ambulance bill.

    I run with a combo dept that pays $12/call. It does involve taxes as we get paid a lump sum quarterly as a "pay check". But this is really nice to help out with the gas/wear/tear on the car you use, and to maybe take your family out to dinner as a thank you for all the times you left them to go to a call. The pay/incentive does more than just help the responder it also helps their family, as in the PS3 situation, a responder who normally could not afford a ps3 for their kid now can via the incentive program, that way it would take that $500 expense off of the parent and also make the kid happy.

    I started volunteer, and still run with an all volunteer company in addition to the combo, and love doing it. However times are changing and we need to change with them, I know (through stories) 100's of people used to come out for an ems/fire call and now a days you cannot even get a crew of 2 or get the truck out the door. But they also used to fight fires with basically rain coats and jeans, and ems WAS truely a taxi service with lights/sirens. Now we have state of the art fire fighting structural/hazmat gear (lev A suit) and highly respected/trained emt B-P's that can do almost everything an ER can but out in the street.Also, jobs used to let volunteers leave for calls with pay, now if you leave you get docked pay or get fired, which causes people to do the obvious and stay at work. We pay nurses/docs $20-100's /hr but pay emt-p's $15 /hr, why?

    Incentives are an excellent idea and I love the idea of $/call. Others as stated above have excellent ideas. I also belong to another all volly dept "who would have "parties"throughout the year for the members. ie: a christmas party with steaks all paid for by the dept, a dress up (suits/dresses) night for the members and their significant others that was catered with dancing,dj, again all pd for by the dept, and in the summer picnics for the members and their families, all pd for by the dept, as a thank you not only to the members, but also to their families for making the sacrifice. That dept could get 20 interior ff's on a wed afternoon 1pm for a working structure fire without any problems (seen it done) and 10 interior ff for an auto alarm on a tuesday at 1pm/3am. It really seemed to make the difference when the dept gives back to its members and their families. I hope this helps and sorry for the extensive post. goodluck


  2. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by JimFightsFire07 View Post
    So Catch 22. U have been looking at my posts. A bunch of young pups you say. Well, i do go to college and where i currently live is a college town so i guess you could say we have some young guys i myself being one of them. However, young i wouldnt say so. We have about 15 to 20 that show up on a regular basis on the fire side. However there are more. Young guys, we have guys that have been with the department 25 + years including a another with 51 years. so when u talk about single young pups, i don't think so. Do we have a bunch of cars lit up with blue lights. No. its not needed and i personally think it is a pointless thing to have. Does that mean we don't have them at all, 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.
    While I'm not surprised, you missed my entire point. The fact you don't have the issues cited in the original post makes your department a bit of an anomaly. Sure, everyone's eager and excited in their first years; they attend training and want more, they run high on a high percentage of the calls, and they get frustrated that they can't do more.

    Three, four, maybe five years down the road their commitment starts to wane. They get married, have kids, have increased responsibilities at work, etc. Or, a lot of times, they're just getting burned out. They see the senior guys who aren't running on as many calls as they are and they resent that they're doing all the work.

    Before you criticize a department looking at incentive programs, perhaps you should look at how things are outside of your college town fire department, where new recruits are available every fall. I think you'll find most vollie departments have some sort of incentive program. Some pay per call, some give gifts at the end of the year, some simply have a banquet to thank everyeone. The fact is, our society expects something in return for their time, no matter how small it is. If you don't give them a little something, you can't expect them to continue giving their time over the long term.

  3. #23

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    I am sorry i just dont think vollies should get any comp. our dept pays for a membership for our local mediflight thats way more than what they should if you ask me. I joined 4 yrs ago and yes i have got burned out but i do it for simple fact that one day you may need the help one day and whos going to be there for you more than likely a vollie. I paid for my own radios for my pov I also paid for a lot of my own gear to keep from having the dept to have to buy it. Just volunteer for the simple fact of helping someone out in the time of need.

  4. #24
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    We get $8.00 per run at our dept, paid monthly. When you serve 10 years you are vested in the state retirement and when you get 20 years of service you can retire from service and draw around $140 per month for as long as you live or go to plan B and put another 5 years in which increases monthly pay. The state also gives you a $200 tax credit on state taxes for new guys and a $400 tax credit if you get your (I think) 40 hour vol firefighting training completed.

  5. #25
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    repost of first message Deleted
    Last edited by BigT620; 02-14-2008 at 05:31 PM. Reason: repost

  6. #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.

  7. #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

  8. #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

  9. #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

  10. #30
    Forum Member ndvfdff33's Avatar
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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?

    Ryan

  11. #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.

  12. #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

  13. #33
    Forum Member GodFather6's Avatar
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    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.

  14. #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.

  15. #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?

  16. #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...

  17. #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!!

  18. #38
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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

  19. #39
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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.

  20. #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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