Volunteers and high gas prices,,, does it affect the time you give to your Department???

Okay, lets face it... gas prices are wayyyy out of hand with no relief in sight. My Department is 100% Volunteer with a roster of about 115 people including support. We cover 27 square miles and operate with 3 houses.
We were starting to see a change in habits of some members, so we took notice and asked questions. What we found was the change of habits were not to due lack of interest, but simply because its becoming costly for people to transport themselves to calls or the firehouse!
Think about it. Gas in my neck of the woods is now $ 3.30 a gallon.
Traveling to a call, meetings, squad nights, drills, training , schooling whatever can quickly add up the miles in a month. I have heard numbers of 50 miles to 700 miles and more driven by our most active members in 1 month!
For the record, our District does allow POV's to respond to the scene, hence, why the numbers may seem high to some. We are not pay by call District and
re-embursement for mileage for Fire/EMS personel seems lightyears away, if ever, an option.
However you cut it, being a Volunteer is no longer just dedicating your time but it is now also becoming a serious financial issue for many.
I am curious to hear how this may have effected your Department in any way.

If it hasen't effected you yet, it probably will.

Anyone have any suggestions?
Has anyone shuffeled FD schedules to try to combine things so people are out a few less nights a month?
Are your members or new recruits feeling as though they cant "afford" to be a Volunteer?

As Always, Stay Safe Everyone!

Mike

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We were just talking about possibly reimbursing members for gas at the last meeting. I doubt we would go that route, but at least it's being discussed.

Most of us claim mileage on our taxes, so we get at least some relief there. I generally do about 1500 miles a year.
Well, I'm not a volunteer, but you sent me a message to check this thread out. Gas prices here just went down a tiny bit, the equivelant here is just under 3.8 litres and that costs me $4.20. I feel your pain, but only slightly... lol.
The thing that worries me about the rising fuel costs is, in a small dept. such as in my hometown, where the budget is already tight, can you imagine what these high fuel costs are doing to the operating budget?
All of our rigs are diesel and the price of diesel fuel just hit $4.00 a gallon here.
Everything is going to go up as a result. We add money to the budget every year for fuel price increases.
If it goes down, then good; we will re-direct it. If it goes up, we are covered.
Sucks, though.
Thats pretty much the case. As much as we all piss and moan when the price increases, we pay it anyway. The best we can do for departments is to preserve the fuel. Limit the "joy riding" with FD equipment. Limit the running hours of apparatus that are not being used at a scene. Do your part to save some money.
As for POV's and covering the cost of fuel for members. Yes it definately is a major contributor in volunteer firefighting. The price of fuel goes up, but the paycheck stays the same. I don't have an answer for you on this other than to try and establish an incentive program through grant writing. Other than that it is unfortunately a burden we all will be facing more as the days go by.
They try to Cut our Funding.. We still Drive forward and get the job done with the limited resources We are stuck with.. they then jack Our fuel prices up so far that literally You work five hours a day for a tank of Gas.. and Still we Drive On.. Whats next? Hey I know!!! Why dont they go head and take away Our bunker Gear!!!!! Lets get serious Folks... If We dont kick back a little they are going to walk all over Us as long as they can till that one department says Hey You know what? We refuse to go to the call.. We dont get any Back up We dont get any funding ... Lets see how You can afford to pay 8 Firefighter Salaries.. and not be able to give Us Basic Supplies and funding We NEED to stay safe and Protect Your County....

Till then.. We will just Drive Forward.. Because thats What We do .. Against all Odds We fight on..

Sgt Bobby J King
Madison Co Div of Emergency Services
Fire Rescue
Is it really the gas prices that are causing members to slow or is it some other item in the firehouse that is causing the slowing down of members on response. I would hope and still think that members respond to assist those in need in the community and base that response on thier availability to go not on some gas price. Although I will admit that maybe some members are tight pinched for money, but they could cut back on trips to maybe the store for cigarettes, cup of coffee or maybe to the bar for a drink before cutting back on responding to calls. So, if they are using the excuse they are slowing in their response to calls because of gas prices they are hiding the facts that it is because of things like poor management at the fire station, tougher standards to be met, more uneccessary nights to be there for a meeting to hear fights over the same old crap, etc.

If you combined things into fewer nights it may help, but again you will only put a bandage on the truth of why they are not coming around.

Look at the real reasons why members are not coming out, not at the excuses that you hear are the reasons. Fix the real reasons and gas prices will not be an excuse anymore. Don't get me wrong, there is maybe one or two that gas prices are truely affecting, but these people are the ones that are still responding without hesitations.

So, the gas prices thing is "ONLY AN EXCUSE"!
I dont doubt there are some issues out there in every Fire Department, Anytown U.S.A. , my own District being no exception. FACT-My main point to this conversation is the fact that some people are forking out over $100.00 and perhaps $200.00 monthly on traveling to and from firematic duties as Volunteers. At what point, with the worse yet to come, will this impact Volunteer Fire Departments,,,particularly smaller Districts with minimal staffing already. FACT-Think of how many rural Departments have large enough Districts where traveling 20 or more miles in your personal vehicle per call is simply the norm. FACT- Judging by some of the replies already, energy costs are already playing a significant role in some Districts operational budgets.
You feel that this may be masking a deeper issue and Im sure that may occasionally be the case.
If it can affect how a District operates and cause them to re-think their budgets, I have to believe it can have an effect on our pockets as individuals. That is FACT, not an EXCUSE.

Stay Safe!

Mike
Yeah gas prices are getting way out of control. They just went over $3.00, as of today about $3.09 a gallon. On my service we get a stipend for responding to calls, but that is only if we transport to hospital. We get them about every 3-6 months or when the chief gets around to putting the figures together. I came into this profession to help my community and that is what i will continue to do. You don't have to leave your vehicle running on all scenes. For those that may be using gas prices as an excuse to not go on calls .------->>>>Like I tell some people on my service that complain about the management of the service. " I am not here for them (management), I am here for the residents in the towns we cover." Leave the personalities at home.
Going on those replies, then I guess I will have to surcumb to agreeing to the majority and agree that financially it will at some point make an impact.

But maybe some ideas, which our own department doesn't subscribe to doing is to allow member to bunk in for crew duty or maybe even wait for a crew to fully staff the apparatus before leaving the station to go to calls. The later is the more easier and found in alot of departments to be the presetn day norm. I am not suggesting that either is right or wrong, just options that more departments are going to have to take alook at maybe.

I still stand on that if you volunteer, whether the gas is .50 or 3.50 a gallon, you are signed up to help the community and you will find some way to get there to do so. I will be the first to agree that some members are more likely to allow the screaming idots that have no life and hang out in the firehouse or come screaming to the station from only a 1/2 dozen doors away and leave without waiting for more crew to go to calls will result in some members lagging behind or waiting to hear that there is something before they go spending time to drive all the way to the call to find out it is nothing more than a boring BS AFA.

I might have been alittle harsh and jumped too quick to write off the lack of responding members to be ressult of other things besides the gas prices. My apologies, but I will stand by that it could be a contributing factor to some slowing.

You have a interesting story here going, let's look at all replies and thoughts open minded.

Stay Safe Brother.

P.S. Remember, I come out no matter the cost or personalities involved.
WHM, you do bring up a valid point in your first post... the higher price of gas being an excuse. I hadn't thought of it in that light.

Fits in, though with "O, my pager didn't go off" or "I slept right through it" or "It didn't sound that serious..." When I hear crap like that I know someone's heart just isn't in it. "I was low on gas" will be the next one. Wait, I think I already heard that one.
I agree with you 100% the gas prices here aren't as high but once that pager goes off 4-5 times a day it adds up especially for us volunteers driving our pov's to the calls and the station. Our chief is bad about having 2 or 3 fireman go to the station instead of the fire and i feel for them cuz of the gas their using driving clear to the station when the fire isn't but a couple miles away from where the live. Yeah it is a good idea that volunteer fire departments should get a grant for reimbursement of money for the ones who goes to most of the calls

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