This is towards the volunteer sector. How much is to much. What should we expect from our volunteers? Is it to much to ask to make trainings, to make general meetings, to be expected to clean bathrooms and mop floors? It seems like everyone wants to show up and "play" but nobody wants to put in the time. I understand there are family commitments, work commitments etc. So where does your department draw the line, what does your department expect from its members. This may have been discussed before, and if it has please direct me to the forum. or if this should be posted somewhere else. Thanks.
Is it asking too much to learn to spell?
Sorry, but it's one of my personal peeves, and if you're going to post on a public forum, you leave yourself open to criticism.
I'm going to guess that you're asking what level of commitment does the department expect(?)
Ours expects you to make enough work nights to show general interest, commit to training and make at least ten percent of the annual calls. I don't think that's asking very much.
If you're serious about being a firefighter, and not just "belonging", you make sacrifices.
My department expects a decent amount - especially new members that are going through their probationary phase. As a "probie" members must:
-Go to 10 trainings per year, 3 of which have to be certified by the county
-Make 152 runs a year (although they're looking to increase this amount soon)
-Help and assist in any recreational activities such as department parties and fundraisers
-Obtain their Firefighter 1 within 2 years
-Complete in-house probationary training (6 months - FF1 cannot be started until this is completed)
-Be on EMS AND fire squads (one night per week, each)
Personally, I think that's a lot. Last year we ran over 2,200 calls, so the opportunity to make the calls isn't THAT hard - it's definitely doable. However, add in the factor or real life - people have families, children, jobs, and other responsibilities. Especially in todays day in age where the economy still isn't that great, many people are working two jobs, and some people are going to school.
I think there needs to be a higher incentive to be a volunteer, at least where I am. I do it because I want to help my community (I know, it sounds cliche), but MY life comes first. MY job comes first - I can't volunteer without a car, nor gas, nor a place to live, nor an income to pay for my bills. MY family and daughter comes first - they are my first priority ALWAYS, not ifs, ands, or buts.
The squad portion killed me for awhile. While working Mon.-Fri. I couldn't really do EMS squad on a Thursday night - with work in the morning (the more "important" aspect in my life) I needed my sleep to be alert for work. Now I have fire squad on Saturday - so, great, my Saturday night is now shot because I can't really go out of district. Many members don't show, and it's no wonder as to why - volunteerism shouldn't be mandated. I know people NEED to show up, but mandating that an unpaid volunteer show up until the wee hours of the morning, especially when they have work in the morning, is pushing it.
Right now we have about, eh... 30 guys running the 2,200 calls/year. Life members, a large portion of our roster, only need 50 runs per year. Every time we get a new class in, at least from what I have seen, over half of them drop out. The ratio is starting to topple over - we need more members to comensate for the older members that aren't going interior anymore.
It's rough all around. I know I am rambling about this matter, but this is something that is dear to my heart. I love being in the volunteer fire service, but mandating volunteerism and having such high standards while trying to have a full-time job and a family is extremely difficult, and often exhausting.
I dont think we ask that much. When we interview, we show appicants the requirements of the Job before and after the academy. To keep us on the up and up, there are state mandates and such for the Job be it volly of career. To keep our members safe it has to be done.
Be FF1/FF2 within in a year, make 20% of the runs, miss no more then 3 trainings in a row, miss no more then 3 meetings in a row. If there is a problem you talk with the board and make your case, family issues, job issues, or anything else and they may make a decision before dismissing you. I don't like the trainings and meeting requirements (think you should not be allowed to miss that many) however before you join you meet with the board and you are told upfront of what is required. After your first year you can be voted off by the rest of the members if you're not living up to expectations. This isn't the Kiwanis or Boy Scouts it's firefighting/EMS and it's serious stuff if all you want to do is the "fun" stuff without the work you're not needed, it takes the work to be able to do the "fun" stuff. So why would anybody want to do this for "free" you remind them that their reward is serving the community in a job that not everybody wants to do, the brotherhood, driving the red trucks, cutting holes in houses, cutting cars apart, helping the little old lady down the street, etc., etc.
We are a small department with between 15 to 20 calls a year. We have 4 drills a month, and expect the members to attend at least 2 a month, unless they have work or another committment. If someone stops coming to drills we usually give them 6 months then ask them to quit. After 2 or 3 months we tell them they need to start coming to drill. It is strictly volunteer so we are not that strict on these things. When you join our department our chief tells you that there are 3 rules. Rule number 1, look after yourself. Rule number 2, look after your family. Rule number 3, help us when you can.
I am glad to see that we someone else is having the same issues we are. We are trying to change our membershio requirments from one training a quarter to two trainings a quarter. the problem we have seen is that members only show up for one training a quarter and miss the rest. Then we thay get on scene we have to train them on new equipment that we have. I agree with the others when they say you know up front what is expected. If you dont think you can do it man up and tell them. This job is not for everyone. I have a family also and dont get to make all of the runs (except wildland fires now) that we have. My family is first, job is second and everything else is after that.
1. Attend training every Tuesday from 7pm-11pm, unless excused.
2. Cover 1-2 night shifts a week (long time members or those with families are sometimes excused from this, considering most of our dept is college students. And we often do get to sleep through the night at the station).
• Duties during night shift: clean station, check trucks, etc.
3. Attend most additional trainings like EMT classes/refreshers, extrication, etc.
4. Once pagered, make a large number of the calls
Our department asks a lot from our members. We get 300-500 calls a year and have about 30 members and 3 paid responders (1 mechanic, 2 operations officers).
I think people are willing to give time because we give it ourselves. People think I'm crazy for how much time I put in for no pay. It's pretty much a part time job. But I give it without even thinking about it. It's because I saw the high standards, the pride in the department, the training, the camaraderie that the members exhibited and I wanted to be a part of it. We try and keep the politics to a minimum, our training interesting (almost every training is done hands-on, usually running drills in our training building out back), and the shifts fun (we have internet, TV, a kitchen, workout room, etc.).
A number of people don't join or don't make it because they can't pass our training, or meet the commitment we ask... but enough of them do. Of course, we understand and stress that family is first, work second, and fire third.
Oh, and this wonderful lady cooks a full dinner for us after every Tuesday training. When you're a poor college kid, that is payment enough for all the long hours. :-P
We require members to attend at least 6 monthly meetings, 6 monthly work details and 6 monthly trainings per year. They must attend at least 36 hours of training per year. Firefighters are expected to complete FF1 within 2 years. They must also be certified in CPR and complete the EMS Driver taskbook in order to come off probation. The attendence requirements are also higher for the probationary period but I can't remember the details. If the members want to do additional responses (e.g. wildland firefighters have to complete the S130/190 course) they have to complete applicable training.
We stopped setting call requirements and now require 624 hours of on-call status (from home, no in-house requirement) per year. If they fail to show up on a call while they they are signed up, they lose credit for the entire shift. Most shifts are 12 hour, 6:00 PM - 6:00 AM on weekdays with two additional 12 hours weekend day shifts. We ask members to sign up for at least one of the weekend shifts each month.
50 volunteers for fire and EMS. Most are one of the other with maybe a dozen that do both. 600 - 700 calls per year. We have a small paid staff for weekday calls supplemented by all call pages. We also have a 24/7 paramedic on duty.
It is a challenge getting folks to keep up with the issues mentioned above (multiple jobs, out of town work, family, etc.) Unfortunately, the type of fire and EMS calls set the requirements, not how much time folks are willing to spend. Eventually, it will be an issue but we are doing ok for now.
I know it is an unpopular saying but I agree that you only volunteer to join. After that, there are standards that have to be met for the safety of the community, the firefighter and their co-workers. It is unethical to allow anything less.
Of course that's just my opinion and I could be wrong.
Thanks for all the replys. I don't want to make it sound doom and gloom, because its not, but we do have some members that don't show up for trainings or meetings and then show up for a call and like someone said they don't know where equipment is or they question why we are doing things a certian way. I am starting a new training policy, it only requires 24 hours training a year and I am getting lots of negative feedback. Oh well, life goes on.
to those of you who have an issue with my spelling and grammer, I guess it makes you feel impotent when you can make fun of others, so if all you have to do is troll websites and pick on others, then I pity you. As for me I am confident in my abilities and skills and have led a succesful life and have an awesome family. I thank God for everything I have and for everything I don't have. Search your soul and humble yourself. c u l8tr
Quick question, do you vote on officers each year or are they appointed? Just curious but typically related.
Stick in there, you are not the first to have to deal with this issue. It is a normal part of any department's maturing process. It is a lot harder to ignore these days than it used to be. Unfortunately, it sometimes takes a serious incident to get buy in. Hopefully you can sell your members on being proactive.
Take a look at some of the Gallery - WTF pictures on firefighterclosecalls.com and see if your department wants to do a better job than what shows up there.
A last bit of advice, if you are going to ask folks to volunteer their scarce time to attend training, it better be good training. Nothing irritates me more than to show up for training and obviously see that no preparation went into it or the topic has no value.