Im not sure if its the same way everywhere but its seems to be that the number of people willing to volunteer has dropped dramaticly. We have had trouble finding people willing to serve their community. Ive kinda found that the whole attitude towards being a fireman has changed, people just dont care anymore they would rather let someone elso do it. I dont have a problem with this being a thankless job but it seems now that people want some kind of special perk or something. Is anyone else facing the same issues and if you are what have you done to counter act them.
Yeah, we have about 12 active members for a town of 6000, running about 400 calls/yr. It gets pretty slim pickens on daylight, as there are only 4 of us who work nights and can respond during the day, but we get by.
I'm not so sure it has to do with not wanting to do it. I think that people are just too busy to devote the time into something else. Today's society seems to be running lower on time due to children's activities or their own for that matter. Yes, there are likely those who are just not interested and those that think that it's too dangerous and intimidating.
We used to have a long waiting list years ago, now we are happy to see someone new walk through the doors. The government is doing something to try to attract new volunteers in the form of a tax credit in our area. And also the free license plates are a bonus to them as well. It brings in a couple new people, but still not worth breaking out the waiting list yet.
Even though we don't have a waiting list anymore, we still have a large membership, which means that we don't have much problem getting bodies to work a fire, or mva. But a medical..that's a different story. Don't get as many then.
Not being able to recruit volunteer firefighters was just one of the key reasons that there are no longer any reserve or volunteer program where I live and work.
- Conflicts with work schedules when both parents have to work and childcare is an issue.
- Many people are forced to work one or more jobs to get by... the training an calls take this money making opportunity away from folks.
- There has been a continuing change in attitude among people regarding volunteerism without reward.
The state of California recognizes this lackadaisical attitude and this year is offering a one-day pass to get into Disneyland for free for one day of volunteer work.
I'm not being much help here but at least you know that you can offer folks a free day at Disneyland for being being a volunteer...
We have 19 guys and gals on the roster here, but only about 6 or 7 that regularly show up!
We haven't asked the others for their pagers back because there's no one else to give the pager to. If we get any more folks volunteering, then we would start asking for pagers back from the no-shows, but I don't see any point in getting the pager back now and having it sit in a cupboard. If those guys show up at a fire, they can always help at re-hab/change air tanks, traffic control, etc. No way I'm going to send them into a fire with no refresher training in 5+ years!!!!
Heck, at our last meeting/practice, I was the only one that showed up! Did all the equipment checks, some odds-and-ends that have been getting put off for too long, and headed home to see the kids.
We are in an all rural area and we also have trouble getting volunteers and some of the ones we do get are just walking bodies.
Our area, with about 7 departments, tried to have a recruiting drive awhile back with banners and a recruiting booth during a fall parade. I don't know of anyone having any bites from it.
I know having the time is a big factor in this, but I don't think people want to help others anymore.
We have discussed this at our county chiefs meetings and haven't come up with anything. We too are looking for suggestions.
For volunteers, I believe call volume and 'level of excitement' is a factor. Western PA is saturated with volunteer departments and many of them cover literally a handfull of streets or less than 1 square mile. This results in very few calls and members getting very little in return for the time spent training, so it becomes boring and they stop coming around.
Consolidations or mergers would be helpful in this regard, in more ways than one, since first due call volumes would increase, more members are now available for staffing, and a larger station can generate a higher public profile.
My department would jump at a merger plan with our neighbors, but sadly, there are long standing personality issues existing with much of the older membership in the area and a disinterested and ignorant local government.
I think this is a wonderful Discussion. I was formerly with a small Rural VFD, and Last year moved into the CY-Fair VFD here in Texas. I see that it is problem that is growing in all VFD's.
I have just Graduated from Cy-Fairs' Academy and Speaking with other Grads from time to time see that one problem is the lack of Training and Knowledge Sharing once they have got back to the station. When the "Rookie" is in the House; Train and Mentor. Skill test and Promote. Our Station is very Hands on, and every Thursday is Training. It keeps the excitement Level up. Our Station Graduated 5 in the last Class and now we have 5 in the Cadet Class.
Designate a Training Officer and have fun and learn something new every Week. The word will spread, and they will be Knocking on the door.
Just my Humble Thoughts.
You are in the same boat with a lot of departments nation wide. Automatic mutual aid is a band aid, but it does help! States need to offer a lot more incentives to attract vols., but with the budget crunches I don't see it happening.
I can understand local, state and federal assistance for apparatus, training, equipment, etc. But if you're going to ask the government for monetary incentives to volunteers, why not just ask for money to fund a paid department?
Volunteer departments exist almost exclusively as a result of two main factors: A ready supply of volunteers and enough of them to meet the call volume. Lower the first and/or increase the second and you are on your way to a paid department.
Tax abatements and per call stipends are signs that the needs of the community can not be met with volunteerism alone.