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The problem of volunteer ..

Discussion in 'Firefighter/EMS Talk' started by mtncat, Dec 1, 2007.

  1. mtncat


    Feb 20, 2006
    New Mexico
    Just kind of pondering how other departments deal with problems.
    We are 1 of 17 departments in the county. This is volunteer departments.
    We don't run a big number of runs a month, maybe 10 to 20
    Most of the runs are ems/resuce work.
    We have one department that runs an average of 5 or more calls A DAY!.:wow:
    Also have a couple that run maybe 1 or 2 a month.
    Getting people to volunteer is TOUGH.
    Our training is exactly the same as any other department in the state. So, obviously getting a person up and running is very time consuming for both the training people and the new volunteer.
    You don't get issued any equipment much less respond to calls or get behind the wheel of a rig until you are trained properly.
    Getting people that are avaliable to respond to calls during the day is also very tough.
    Seems like the younger folks don't want to get involved if they are not getting paid. We just got a new member a month or so ago, he is 20 years old. We have one other couple who are in their late 20's, everyone else is
    We do have the opportunity to work wildland stuff through a JPA with the feds and the state and get paid for it. BUT it can be a real moral buster to have one of our guys working side by side with a seasonal fire fighter only to find out that the "volunteer" has more and better training as well as more experience then the seasonal person but is being paid about half what the seasonal person is.:steamed:
    So, I guess after all the "pondering" my question to you is, how do you get folks interested in devoting a ton of time to do a tough job for FREE?
    Just seems like the desire to give back to the community is fast becoming a thing of the past.
    I have to wonder what will happen in the next 10 to 15 years when there is no one to answer the call to duty?
  2. pulaskipusher

    pulaskipusher Topodaworldma!

    May 1, 2007
    North Idaho
    That is a great question, as soon as you find the answer let me know because we have the same problems.
    I am the only active member in my department under the age of 30. There are maybe 4 others under the age of 45. Getting people that are able to respond during the daytime is also tough, people work....

  3. nsb22

    nsb22 TEAM OAF

    Sep 17, 2003
    We are currently at #634 for the year. For some odd reason, we have no problem getting people to join. In my opinion, we are the best Dept. in our county. We have the best equipment and we train more than anyone else. That could be the reasons we have no problem getting people.

    The only problem we have is keeping people from other departments from talking smack about us. But I guess when you are on top, people will try anything to knock you down.
  4. Fireman1291

    Fireman1291 Firefighter/EMT

    May 17, 2005
    Land O lakes, FL
    I wish we ran 5 calls a day! Our average is 16 calls a day, it gets old.

    We are a paid dept, however the vols can ride on paid engines as we always have a seat open. And they have thier own station and do everything we do except get paid as they havent all completed schooling( I know as thats how I started :) ) Once anyone has all the certs they can apply just like anyone else but vols get a nudge over outsiders.

    Our volunteers train every tuesday, maybe you can set up a training frequently to keep the young ones interested.....
  5. Alaskapopo

    Alaskapopo NRA ENDOWMENT

    Feb 6, 2000
    I have to hand it to volunteers. No way i would work my job for free.
  6. mtncat


    Feb 20, 2006
    New Mexico
    We have a hard enough time getting people to volunteer when we train once a month, this is over and above all the basic classes that a newbie has to take. Once we have "fresh meat" we set all the basic classes up to fit the schedule of them.
    Running more then 5 calls a day is great, if your getting paid for it. The one local department that runs 5 or more a day is all volunteer. The time away from work for these folks really takes it's toll, obviously.
  7. MissAmericanPie

    MissAmericanPie Troop Supporter

    Dec 8, 2005
    New Hampshire
    I got my EMT so I could volunteer, initially. However, I'm now hooked and looking for a job in EMS.

    Our volunteer dept. is having the same difficulties.

    I am finding that I cannot gain experience when we have only had a couple of calls in the last month. I think that is going to be a problem for new folks and keeping them trained as well. You can acquire the skills but will forget them if they are not used.

    An example of the downside of volunteering: Two nights ago at 3:30 a.m. a call came in and I was stupid enough to go to it. I say this because I live 12 minutes (without icy roads) from the call. I got up and it took me 2 minutes to get out of the house (had to move a vehicle - poor planning). I got there about 15 min. after the first tone went out. The rescue was backing out and the ambulance service was enroute to the hospital by the time I got there. I didn't get back to sleep until 5:30. And the kicker is: I forgot that I was really low on gas and I wanted to go straight to get it the next day. Well I ran out trying to do just that in the a.m.!!! Why, oh why, did I go?

    Anyway, back on topic - our dept. does issue gear. And they have been desperately trying to recruit EMTs and firefighters. The dept only has a few of us under 40. We all try to plan it so that at least one of us is around for a rescue call when we have to be out of town at the same time. We decided to have our Christmas party in town so someone could respond - there is only one restaurant in town and it is at the ski area.

    But I love to volunteer. And I love doing rescue. It is a shame that more do not do it. Courses through the state are cheap and the dept. will reimburse. And I love the training. We just did ice rescue basics and when the ice freezes over someone is going swimming!!!!
  8. Pyro


    Oct 25, 2006
    Volunteers do a great thing for their community, but if you are averaging at least 5 calls a day, your community needs to come up with a better solution. You need a paid department, and it sounds like you have the call volume to support it.

    You don't see volunteer garbage men or dog catchers. Your community is cheating its people out of an important service.
  9. SpaceCase

    SpaceCase Palin for Pres!

    Jan 25, 2002
    You could try and lure them in with the retirement benefits :)

    I have often thought of volunteering for a dept, but the logistics for someone who lives in a county with paid services would mean I would need to volunteer most likely far away from home.

    What county are you in?
  10. mtncat


    Feb 20, 2006
    New Mexico
    Otero County. Yes, their is actualy a retirement if you meet ALL the rules and regs. IIRC it is like $200.00 a month. Chances of meeting all the guidelines is somewhere between slim and none. I think that plan it that way for a reason.
  11. .....
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2009
  12. pulaskipusher

    pulaskipusher Topodaworldma!

    May 1, 2007
    North Idaho
    Mike awesome point and welcome to Glocktalk.
    I know the depts in my county don't have volunteer in their name, we do however advertise in the newspaper and on our websites. My old depts all advertised on the highway with billboards... It is definately something I will bring up with the cheif about the possiblity of putting up a sign on the main station... Thanks.
  13. mtncat


    Feb 20, 2006
    New Mexico
    All of our rigs decals say volunteer on them as do uniform patches etc.
    We have one of the large lighted signs on the highway as well as the signs at each of the 4 stations that say volunteer.
    We push the local paper on news releases and the county fire association (all depatments meet together monthly, if they show up) has a PIO that does a good job on getting information out to the public.
    As for any of these departments ever becoming paid, would be nice but that is not going to happen.
    THe major city here has a paid fire department and a contract ambulance company.
    One of the volunteer departments majority number of calls, at least a couple times a day is to "stand by for the city" I.E we are busy so you volunteer your time so we don't have to pay for more services in the city. This department gets nothing in return for this service.
    Their was talk a couple of years ago about possible paying volunteers for calls. I am opposed to this as I have seen the number of cases involving this type of activity where a person needs some income, so go start a fire!
    Happens to many times.
    My suggestion was at the time that they set aside the money and then at the end of the year those people who met the training standards and responded to calls through out the year recieved a paycheck based upon the percentage of calls and training they responded to, NOT based on the number of calls.
    I.E the person who had 50% attendance to training, meetings and calls but only had 50 calls in the district received the same $$ as the person who had the same percentages but their district handled 75 or even 10 calls.
    Keep the ideas and thoughts coming folks, maybe we can toss out some ideas that someone can use.
  14. kc4zgk


    Mar 22, 2000
    Marietta, GA.
    The county you are in might have to pony up for "Paid On Call" at say $ 15.00 per call to get folks to work?

    Stay safe!!!

    Ed FF/EMT-I
    Roswell Fire
  15. I think that a lot volunteer departments have similar problems. In my department, which is comprised of both paid and volunteer firefighters, our problem is not recruiting but retention. We will have a group of 10 guys start the training and by the end of it there maybe only one or two probies that have made it through. A lot of people think that volunteering only consists of showing up and getting to play dress up as a firefighter. They don't realize that the training the volunteer do is the exact training that the paid guys go through. I just think that the volunteer firefighter is a dying breed.
  16. .....
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2009
  17. speck


    Mar 11, 2004
    Not a firefighter ... we don't have a volunteer department here locally, but...

    If you guys are in areas with a techie population, you might try recruiting computer nerds. (OK, stop laughing and bear with me here.) Computer nerds generally will do something if you can show them the geeky side (ex: fire theory) and computer nerds who are programmers and sysadmins are used to jumping out of bed at all hours to respond to a pager. Most also have really, really flexible hours because they have to get out of bed at all hours to respond to that pager. (The industry policy is if you have to respond to a pager, you otherwise pick your hours. If you are forced to work 9-5 hours, and something goes wrong in the middle of the night, you don't get out of bed to fix it.) And most were nerds in high school and would totally be down with getting some of the firefighter mystique so that they can finally get laid. ;)
  18. pulaskipusher

    pulaskipusher Topodaworldma!

    May 1, 2007
    North Idaho
    great idea speck, wish we had techies around here.

    and Mike I feel ya, I applied to a dept and it took a year to get interviewed and 6 months to get into a year long class :shocked: When they told me about the wait to get on a truck I thought "Damn I just want to volunteer not get a paid job." Their biggest problem is after they school their new guys they are ready for a paid job and usually chase them.
  19. DScottHewitt

    DScottHewitt EMT-B

    Jul 4, 2000
    Waynesboro, VA
    Our County Supervisors are tossing around "Paid on Call".

    $3.00 a person. MAXIMUM of FOUR people per call, regardless of how many run the call.....

  20. mtncat


    Feb 20, 2006
    New Mexico
    Scott, we had considered some type of a paid deal. Maybe something like you mentioned would work to some degree.
    How are they going to figure who gets paid?
    The twp problems I can see is that it encourages a person who needs the money to fabricate calls, brush fires, trash piles etc.
    And from the stand point of our particular department in the majority of our calls 4 people is just as bad as none. Alot of BAD MVA/s where we have to deal with not only cutting people out of vehicles but also traffic control, and the other high/low angle rescue work.