Same problem here. We get the fng's who want to be able to say 'I'm a firefighter" Forget it when you need help with a 'fallen and can't get up' or two days and nights into a wildfire. They show up to drive the trucks in the parade, or get into county fair events free. We are a small town with about 40 members, but have worked calls with only two or three others showing up. been on 13 years and it hasn't changed. The other thing that kills me is the ones who go take a couple classes at state fire school and come back and try and tell us how to do things
We have 22 members on our dept including officers. Our usual turn out during weekdays is three guys, night and weekends average about six. If its a fire almost everyone turns out. I have a hard time making it to all the calls, i work a rotating shift at a mill and cant leave once i get there, but i made it to 35 of 39 calls this year. we have a problem with getting volunteers, none of the younger guys in town want to be on the dept, too much work or responsiblity.
Yea, same problem in the poconos. I think you'll find that most volunteer companies are dealing with the same problem. We have a fairly big company and we even only have a couple of people show up for calls. Sometimes no one shows up!! But have those big balls to the walls MVA's, Rescues or fires and you will see people you haven't seen all year. It happens everywhere.
yeah i know what you mean we are a pretty small company but we have alot of people who say there active they show up to meetings but idk the last time they have been to a call its always the same people at all the calls
You ain't the only one with those problems brother. Here in New Zealand it is becoming more and more difficult to recruit and retain people. In addition many of those we do recruit are not available for workday callouts.
We have that problem too. Our department has about 25 members. For example this morning at 0048 we had a call for a lift asst from a house to a car. The wind chill was -12F and there was only two of us that showed up. Luckily that was all we needed.
From everything I have read it seems the National average for volunteer fire department membership is 0.3% of the population severed. That is to say for every 1000 people in your service area you should expect 3 volunteers. Some departments are as high as 0.75%. So the first thing to do is to look at your current situation. Are you below, equal to, or above the National average. If you are equal to or above the average you have pulled in all of the “natural” members you can get. These are the people who have a natural love for this work, and are willing to volunteer to their time and energy to do it. Most likely these people came to the fire department, no one had to go out and ask them to join.
Let me start with the department that is below the average in members. They may feel there task is hard, but in a way they have the easiest job. They have not gathered the low hanging fruit of the natural volunteer. The plan then is public education to the needs of the department, let people know you are there and you need volunteers. (this assumes that the department is well run, and the lack of volunteers is not because people try it and leave) Every parade, town event, fish fry etc, have a simple flyer ready to hand out telling people that you would like their help. Talk with local newspaper and radio stations about a quick article focused on the need for more volunteers.
Once they are in the department, make them feel wanted. Get them gear, give them good training, keep them challenged. You have expended time and energy to get them in, now spend some to keep them in.
The departments at or above the National average have a harder time. They have gathered the low hanging fruit, and now must move into the tree to get the stuff on the middle and upper limbs. The idea is to focus the efforts. Again, look at the current situation. Then apply solutions based on where you are at now compared to where you want to be. My department is slightly above the average, but most of our people are centered around one station, but another station has no one. Our plan it to contact people who live near the understaffed station and get them into the department.
Do you need just more people or do you need certain types of people, such as EMT‘s? If so, find ways to target the recruitment in those fields. Do you need people in certain areas of the district? And the always tough one, we need people 8-5 Monday through Friday. Have you thought about changing meeting requirements to meet the needs of people who work evenings and nights? Maybe they can come to the station and watch videos, or practice with the equipment taught by one experienced member of the department who is off during the day.
But most of all, keep the good people you already have, retailers know it costs 5 times more to get a new customer than to retain a current customer. I don’t think we will be buying adds, but think how much it costs to train a person from zero to useful, and how much it is worth to keep the trained people you have.
We have the same situation here in Northern British Columbia, Canada....same guys each time, and they're gettin tired of always bein the ones. I mean, they love it, but some solid backup would be nice. We're in a very transient community, lots of young folks, but you just get them trained to a basic level and they move away.
One of the things I am looking at is how to keep the existing people motivated. After all there are only so many training evolutions you can do when you are just running one truck and don't get much support (if any) from your neighbouring fire departments. My guess is that if you can get your existing people reinvigorated and motivated then this rubs off on others in the potential pool of volunteers out there.
I agree with Rob that you need to have as high a public profile as you can. Visit the schools if you can find people to do so during the day, especially the high schools where your future recruits may come from. Start an Explorer program, do all the PR you can. Have open days and put on displays and talk about what you do for your community. Go door to door, I know how hard that can be living in a rural community where your houses are a couple of miles or more apart and when you get to every second door no-one is at home.
My experience from being involved in a variety of community organisations over the years that if you don't do this people quickly forget that you exist. Have someone in your department write a couple of hundred words every few weeks for whatever local papers you have. Make it chatty, talk about some of the recent calls you have run, but keep pumping the message that your Department exists to serve, keep pumping the fire safety messages and keep telling them you need more people.
i agree with you both, i have had it happen when a call goes out half don't show so you have to bring in county crews because you don't have the man power. Or even better you have your jurisdiction cut down to the bare minimum and you have to back up county.