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  • Volunteers MIA

    How does your Volunteer Department deal with members whose participation has fallen far below standards or is nonexistent?

    1. Do nothing.
    2. Grumble and moan about it.
    3. Vote/Kick them out and collect their gear/equipment.
    4. Contact them to find out what the problem is.
    5. Outreach/encouragement to get them back in the loop.

    --
    Does your department do any kind of exit interview or obtain any feedback from members who leave?

    Just curious. It amazes me how some departments let good members fall by the wayside and make assumptions when members stop showing up without some kind of outreach.

  • #2
    The last two years we have implemented a better system for handling this situation. In the past members were just left to do what they wanted and the more active guys would get upset, talk bad about that person, and eventually driving them away for good. So what we do now is...

    We have and Executive Board, made up of the Department President, Chief, and 5 members nominated and elected by their peers. The board reviews call attendence, meeting attendance, and more importantly training attendance. (thats not the only job of the Exec. Board but I will stay on topic here) We are required to attend 1/3 of all calls or participate in 10 hours of in house training every 12 months. We are not allowed to have more than two unexcused misses of the regualr monthly meeting.

    If you fall below any of the above standards the Executive Board will bring you in, interview you. Ask you if something is going on and if the department can do anything to help them rectify the problem. Sometimes its an issue at home and we will give the guy sometime to get things ironed out. 9 times out of 10 someone ****ed this person off so they quit participating. At that point we can sit them both down, explain how we are a family and we will settle our differences together! It has worked really well, I have seen two guys in particular (that are VERY good firemen) do a complete 180 after our discussions.

    Well, there ya go (in a nut shell).

    Good Luck

    Stay Safe!

    FD5
    "EVERYONE GOES HOME... ALWAYS"

    "Let no mans ghost come back to say his training let him down."

    Comment


    • #3
      Our bylaws state that if you haven't met the minimum attendance requirements (5 meetings, 3 fundraisers, a hose test) to date by November, you get a letter, signed by the chief, warning you that you have five months to do so (the largest minimum the meetings).

      The letter also suggests that if you have questions to show up at a meeting...

      If you don't meet the requirements before the beginning of the membership year (May 1), you're out. We do have life members who do not have to pay dues or meet the requirements, but if they want to hold office or vote at meetings, they do have to meet them. Otherwise they become "inactive life members."

      We just sent out a bunch of letters (late, but we'll adjust), which brought out the idea that we should rethink our requirements with some emphasis on other activities like work details, training, and (imagine that!) fire calls.

      Unfortunately, there are those who wish to protect their friends (inactive though they may be) who will fight such actions. Several years ago, as we tried to bounce several members we hadn't seen in a couple of years, one active member said he felt our bylaws should be advisory, not the law of the land. Unfortunately, this makes it all the tougher to get rid of someone you really do want out.

      In many cases, the reasons for non-attendance are already known, and very often there is an informal one-on-one where it's suggested that if the member is no longer interested they should resign, as that looks much better if they ever decide to join again.
      Last edited by tree68; 01-07-2011, 11:09 AM.
      Opinions my own. Standard disclaimers apply.

      Everyone goes home. Safety begins with you.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by JD1234 View Post
        How does your Volunteer Department deal with members whose participation has fallen far below standards or is nonexistent?

        1. Do nothing.
        2. Grumble and moan about it.
        3. Vote/Kick them out and collect their gear/equipment.
        4. Contact them to find out what the problem is.
        5. Outreach/encouragement to get them back in the loop.

        --
        Does your department do any kind of exit interview or obtain any feedback from members who leave?

        Just curious. It amazes me how some departments let good members fall by the wayside and make assumptions when members stop showing up without some kind of outreach.
        All of the above. We have a membership committee that handles this. If they are not on track to meet requirements at the half way point, a letter is sent. If they don't respond or pick up the pace, they are dropped. At the end of the year, we put people who did not make their quotas on notice and they have 6 months to keep up.

        In addition, we require an average of 10 calls per month to maintain a locker and pager. If they don't keep up, lockers and pagers are pulled.

        We try to give people every opportunity to start coming around more or explain their situation if it's temporary before dropping them. This is especially true of members who have been around for a while.

        Comment


        • #5
          All excellent procedures. Unfortunately, we see most of 1 and 2 in my area. The meeting with the member in GVFD5's post is a good idea and a good way to get the person back on board. Too many firefighters fall by the wayside because of some misunderstanding and disagreement that then mushrooms into the member being a worthless POS. The cliques in volunteer fire department can worse than a high school. Friend-protecting can be a big problem in several areas, including letting dead wood go and discipline.

          Biggest problem I see in some departments is an inability of today's leaders to confront. They are perfectly happy to rip someone behind their backs, but when it comes time to addressing a problem directly, crickets.

          Thanks for the replies.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by JD1234 View Post
            The meeting with the member in GVFD5's post is a good idea and a good way to get the person back on board.
            A version of that we may all want to consider is what the reserve police department did where I used to live.

            In addition to interviewing the prospective new member, they met with the applicant's significant other to make sure that he/she knew what the applicant was signing up for.

            I'm sure we've all known members whose time is suddenly all taken up by the "honey do" list.
            Opinions my own. Standard disclaimers apply.

            Everyone goes home. Safety begins with you.

            Comment


            • #7
              Member Retention

              One of the difficulties I see that younger volunteers have with participating (training sessions, meetings, etc.) is child care.

              Due to the economic realities today, both spouses work. One may work the day shift and the other the night shift.

              If your FD could provide an arrangement for childcare during the designated meeting times, training times and even the social events (so the member could bring their spouse), this could help with attendance.

              Could a daycare in the community be paid to be open on certain evenings? Is there a member (or nonmember) that would be willing to watch children in their home? Is there a retired person who is willing to do day care?

              This could possibly be arranged for fire calls, too. If a member has childcare issues, this may be a reason why they cannot attend FD events or even all the fire/EMS runs.

              This is something you may want to consider if you have younger members on your FD. I know of several FD's that have designated babysitters that their members can call to see if they are available, when a fire or EMS call comes in.

              You may have members that want to participate, but they have family obligations, too. If you help with childcare, you can obtain more active members.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by JD1234 View Post
                1. Do nothing.
                2. Grumble and moan about it.
                3. Vote/Kick them out and collect their gear/equipment.
                4. Contact them to find out what the problem is.
                5. Outreach/encouragement to get them back in the loop.

                --
                .
                In order...

                #2
                #4
                #5
                #3
                My wise and profound comments and opinions are mine alone and are in no way associated with any other individual or group.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by FIRE117 View Post
                  If your FD could provide an arrangement for childcare during the designated meeting times, training times and even the social events (so the member could bring their spouse), this could help with attendance.
                  I think this is an excellent idea. Being a young Dad of Twin boys and my wife working alot of hours (has to take call 3 nights a week), this could help eleviate alot of, if not all the problems I have attending. I am VERY active still, but this would help and help reduce a little of the stress on my wife as well. I am going to suggest it in the next few months and we will see where is goes. Thanks for the idea!

                  Stay Safe

                  FD5
                  "EVERYONE GOES HOME... ALWAYS"

                  "Let no mans ghost come back to say his training let him down."

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Sounds like "Dead weight" to me. If they are not contributing to the department now, will you really miss them if the department gets rid of them? I highly doubt it!

                    I would rather have fewer members that are fully committed than carry the "Dead Weight".

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      My department has the regulars who show up to most calls and help at fund raisers. Then there are those who only show up if there are flames. We don't have anything set up to question those who don't participate, but I wouldn't be against it and I think it's a good idea. The problem that I face is that there is a decent amount of resistance when trying to make new things happen. Not to mention that most members feel because they are volunteering, they shouldn't be required.

                      I made a statement about these issues. I made it know that regardless of the call, I would be at the call unless I was working, ill or had our younger daughter. (My wife is a FF, so we can take turns). I also said that it shouldn't matter if it's a gas odor or a fully involved hotel, volunteers should want to be there to help. I also made it clear that our fund raisers are failing to be productive due to the lack of help and it's not just the people who don't show up, it's the people who don't like the idea, or it wasn't their idea. I encouraged everyone to try and help when they can and maybe we can get more done. Our moral is low at this point, but I'm confident that changes in our leadership will remedy that.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Rice09 View Post
                        Not to mention that most members feel because they are volunteering, they shouldn't be required.
                        To quote one of our members... "We are not 'JUST VOLUNTEERS' , We are Under Compensated Professionals" To be a good fireman/woman everyone needs to look past the fact they are "JUST VOLUNTEERS".
                        "EVERYONE GOES HOME... ALWAYS"

                        "Let no mans ghost come back to say his training let him down."

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by GVFD5 View Post
                          To quote one of our members... "We are not 'JUST VOLUNTEERS' , We are Under Compensated Professionals" To be a good fireman/woman everyone needs to look past the fact they are "JUST VOLUNTEERS".
                          If they want to "just volunteer," there are plenty of organizations that will be glad to see them.

                          I assemble a spreadsheet of each member's responses each year which goes to our commissioners. You'd think some of them would be embarrassed by their own numbers, but a lot don't even seem to care.

                          In fact, I'm convinced that some of them think I do it to showcase my own numbers (which are high, but that's another story).
                          Opinions my own. Standard disclaimers apply.

                          Everyone goes home. Safety begins with you.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            At the current time it is:

                            1. Do nothing.
                            2. Grumble and moan about it.
                            3. Vote/Kick them out and collect their gear/equipment.
                            4. Contact them to find out what the problem is.
                            5. Outreach/encouragement to get them back in the loop.

                            But I am trying to turn it around where 5 & 4 come first before we go to option 3, maybe if we do 4 & 5 it will prevent 1 & 2.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by GVFD5 View Post
                              To quote one of our members... "We are not 'JUST VOLUNTEERS' , We are Under Compensated Professionals" To be a good fireman/woman everyone needs to look past the fact they are "JUST VOLUNTEERS".
                              The paraphrase someone, I forget who: "the last thing you volunteered for was signing the application"
                              So you call this your free country
                              Tell me why it costs so much to live
                              -3dd

                              Comment

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