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How to get local volunteers?

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  • LaFireEducator
    replied
    Here are some basic facts about recruiting:

    1. Recruiting should be a continuous program. In other words, just because you think you have enough members, the recruiting program continues. There certainly can be 2-3 periods a year where there are targeting high energy "recruiting drives", but there should always be a subtle, low key message out there in the community regarding fire department membership. In addition, there are always planning and preparation needs for the next "drive period".

    2. Recruiting is hard work. Many departments expect to be able to effectively recruit with a minimum of effort. Sorry, but it simply does not work that way. Each body brought in will cost a significant amount of effort.

    3. Recruiting requires a significant time commitment. The fact is most departments expect far more than they can given the time that they put into recruiting.

    4. Recruiting requires planning. Recruiting is nothing more than marketing, which takes planning. To effectively recruit, your department needs to do the following, which requires planning time:

    Identify why people want to join your fire department.
    Identify the message it will take to attract those people.
    Identify where those people are in your community.
    Decide how to get the message to those people in your community.
    Decide the process you will use to interview and evaluate applicants.

    5. Recruiting requires a dedicated team. There should be a committee whose members primary focus is recruiting as it (see above) takes time for planning and it is hard work. This can include non-firefighting administrative members with a history in marketing, recruiting or human resources brought in by the department for this sole purpose. it can also include special or auxiliary members and should include a member from all the groups you want to attract - juniors, seniors, etc.

    6. Recruiting effectively requires a plan for those brought in. Recruiting requires that you have way to quickly process applications and begin the training and membership process. If new members feel like they are just left hanging once they have been recruited, they will leave. There needs to be a systematic process whereby they are rapidly integrated into the team.


    Let me go into #4 a little more.

    There are many reasons why people join volunteer departments, and much of that is driven by Maslov's Hierarchy of Needs.

    There are folks that join the fire department for social reasons. While some here may poo-poo that as a valid reason for membership, it is a very important part of the recruiting mix. We can market the fire service as a brotherhood, which it is. That can be used as a tool to draw in ex-military or athletes who are used to working in teams. We can also use the social angle to attract seniors, as an example, who may be able to assist with department administration, recruiting or public education. Market department social events. market the time spent around the station talking. Market through photos, the social aspects of training and fires calls. Use the social aspect to it's fullest potential when marketing your department.

    Maslov's HoN also discusses the need for security. Utilize that as tool for bringing in members who may be attracted by the fact that they are providing fire and/or EMS protection for the community.

    Some members may be attracted by the physical challenges, which relates to Maslov's need for self actualization. Highlight the training challenges that firefighting provides. Highlight the physical effort needed to fight fires. use this on ex-athletes, athletes and current or ex-military. This is especially important if your department has specialized teams such as technical rescue, ice, trench, dive, etc. This can be a great attraction again, to ex or current athletes or military that function or have functioned within elite teams.

    Develop each of these messages for the groups you want to attract including specific slogans and if using brochures, photo sets highlighting each target audience. Example would be a poster targeted specifically at athletes or military at the local gym, the local gun shop or maybe the indoor batting cages. Messages designed foe seniors could be the local senior center and shopping areas.

    Take these messages and put them up in areas where each of these groups will be found as well as in the general population. Mix them in the general community so that each target group is likely to see them during the course of a few days around town.

    The trick is developing specific messages for each target group, and then exposing those groups to those messages.

    Leave a comment:


  • peak85
    replied
    We use signage throughout the community, posts in our municipalities newsletter and started a junior program in an attempt to recruit. We offer just about every incentive possible without being considered a paid department, which has worked well on retaining current members, but unsuccessful recruiting any decent new candidates. Our call volume consists of about 250 fire related incidents per year, which you would think is enough to get them interested and not overwhelm. We currently have an active roster of 30 certified and well trained firefighters, which is much better than the neighboring communities who average around 8 active members. However within the next 5 years, the numbers will drop for us and our neighbors because of an age factor. The neighboring fire departments have no interest in a merger or consolidation. So, if there is not some kind of volunteer firefighter recruitment god for our area, we will see a drastic change in the volunteer fire service within those next 5 years.
    This change will be very costly to the taxpayers, if you know what I mean

    Leave a comment:


  • ffscm72
    replied
    We have pretty much the same system a Leeland. our career staff mainly as EMS but are used in fire suppression when we are short staffed. I don't rightly agree with it, but Ii have no control on that issue.
    Getting people to join can be a hassle. As stated before no one is willing to do anything for free.
    We do have resident requirements, something else I don't agree with. Take what you can get & what people are willing to give you.
    Good luck with your efforts!

    Leave a comment:


  • LaFireEducator
    replied
    How much money do you have available to commit to incentives?

    The fact is people will volunteer if they feel that they feel they are appreciated, and that they are being recognized and rewarded, which does not always have to be stuff.

    Simple rewards can be additional t-shirts, coffee cups, reserved parking spaces for non-emergency events. Some people just like seeing thier name on a board for 100% drill attendance for the month or a responding to a specific percentage of call.

    If they money is there, maybe a simple point system where they receive a points for drills and run response.

    As far as recruiting, it's nothing but marketing.

    Identify the types of people you want on your fire department, identify where they are in your community, develop specific recruiting messages for each group and then deliver them.

    So, think about the types of members you want to be interior firefighters. Locate them in your community, which may be gyms, local basketball or other athletic programs and workplaces that require persons with a higher level of fitness. Develop a message such as "Fire. Smoke. Heat. Interested?
    Then deliver that message through posters, handouts or manned informational booths to where those people are.

    Another example. Firefighting is about teamwork, so target current or ex-military or team athletes with a slogan like "Teamwork. Pride. Commitment.(Fire Department name)."

    Target folks with special fireground skills such as truck drivers, rock climbers, swimmers and divers if you have water rescue or tech rescue programs.

    Target seniors for administrative and station duties to free up firefighters.

    Use yard signs at busy intersections and in front of members homes. Posters in busy retail establishments and restaurants. Simple handouts. Articles in the local paper. A banner in front of the stations. A fire truck with handouts at the local grocery store during the day a couple of times a week. Local access TV if you have it either via pop-up messages or maybe an interview if 3 or 4 members including a male, female, limited duty and possibly older member talking about why they joined and what they do.

    Be creative and use the media you have in your community.

    By the way, the US Fire Administration has a couple of free publications regarding recruiting. Simply go to the USFA website under publications.

    Leave a comment:


  • Leeland
    replied
    Like Harve we don't have a residency requirement at least there isn't one that I know of otherwise I wouldn't be with the department I am with now.

    We run alot of MVA's and when we do have a volunteer staffing day, we normally get enough people to staff the engine or squad. The career staff usually staffs the medic unit and we can use them if we are short staffed.

    Getting people to become volunteers is getting difficult. People don't want to do things for free and some think that if they do join the volunteers, that they will get paid or can become career fire fighters. They don't realize the amount of training that's involved to actually ride. Before you can step foot onto a rig you need FFI otherwise we'll leave you at the station.

    We did have an open house last year and we got a decent turn out. I'm hoping we will do one this year and maybe get a few more people to show up and perhaps some will be interested in joining without getting paid to do it.

    Leave a comment:


  • nr9306
    replied
    Our department has a residency requirement. You must live within the town lines and for at least 6 months. You also cannot be on another department (ambulance service excluded). We have about thirty volunteers and three paid FFs. I find it strange that you can't find local volunteers. Benefits or incetives always work if you have the resources, but finding people that really love the fire service makes a huge difference. But I'm also not in your shoes. Good luck.

    Leave a comment:


  • tazhog54
    replied
    Volunteers needed

    We are in a rural farm area 85 sq.miles and Volunteers are hard to find or like was said in a earlier form they are there just to be called a FF and can't be depended on .We have 44 on the roster and about 10 % show up . Now we have new rules as of the first of the year you have to be a FF I . What we have found is it hard to be a volunteer and go to class, to be a firefighter I and be a volunteer ( no Money paid ) Nobody has the extra money to do this and with budget cuts our dept surely don't have any ! We have 3 months left on our year and we are allready out of fuel money for our equipment and we have 15 trucks. We Ran over 400 calls last year and looks like we will break that this year !

    Leave a comment:


  • warriorwaynorth
    replied
    Understaffed

    We are in the same boat. Right now we run about 400 calls/yr between EMS and Fire. We only have two full-timers and about 15 paid-per-call. We also have no sleeping quarters so we have to respond from home to night time calls. This has added up to be a HUGE headache!

    Leave a comment:


  • Hecter
    replied
    finding voluntares is really a tough job , we once were on finding voulntares or making voluntares . it actually was like a campaign . and a person once said to me who the h on earth have time to being a voluntare . that thing really hurts me and i was under a shock.

    Leave a comment:


  • hwoods
    replied
    Well.........

    Originally posted by FIREguy2011 View Post
    How come nobody does real demonstrations such as forcible entries, piercing nozzles, etc. Everyone just does extinguisher training and extrication. Yes, we have more mvc and entrapments than we do with fires, but why not show the stuff rescue workers go through, put a dummy in the drivers seat and demonstrate tunneling or how to avoid further injuries from glass penetration and such. Or demonstrate shoring, or airbag use, collapses are rare and once they occur, does your department know what to do? It could pan out to be a good training and demo for open houses. Create a roof prop and and demonstrate cutting techniques or ladder placement?

    Our Auto Crash Rescue Demos are done with Victims that are made up to look the part. The Demo starts with the Apparatus driving up and carries all the way through to the "Patients" being loaded into the Ambulance. With other Equipment on Display, and with the Display Equipment staffed by people who know how to use it, and explain why and how we do things, we make out pretty well.....

    Leave a comment:


  • Tony4310
    replied
    Our issue's has been 1) Finding volunteers and 2) When we do. They usually turn out to be there just so they can call themselves FF and are usually no good to those of us that are there because we love doing the job.

    So for us. Finding people has been a struggle in every way!

    Leave a comment:


  • JayDudley
    replied
    Recruitment

    We like many Departments have problems recruiting Volunteers. Lately we have been having a blood drive with tables set out looking for Volunteers along with radio spots during the event. This year they had to turn people away at the door because of the response not to mention we picked up a boat load of applications. This Saturday we're having a food drive at a local supermarket with donations to the food bank and tables set up to collect the food and also sign up potential Volunteers . There will be a raffle for the people signing up to Volunteer with the winner receiving a gift card for groceries at the store. With this all said we're starting our Academy in January to teach the new Volunteers how to do their job.

    Leave a comment:


  • DeputyMarshal
    replied
    Originally posted by nmfire View Post
    Come visit this area. Stand in the doorway from the dayroom to the bay area when a box alarm goes out and start counting. See how many seconds before you're trampled. I guarantee even at 3am when everyone is asleep, you won't get to two digit numbers. Geared up, in the truck, rolling out the door in <60 seconds is quite normal around here. I'm tellin' ya, this is another world down here. It ain't like back home
    Sorry, but I've actually done research in that area. In studies involving two large counties in that area, they didn't meet the NFPA 1710 standard either in a simulated response scenario nor in a review of one year's actual response time records. At 3 am, almost nobody meets the standard.

    Leave a comment:


  • LaFireEducator
    replied
    Originally posted by FIREguy2011 View Post
    How come nobody does real demonstrations such as forcible entries, piercing nozzles, etc. Everyone just does extinguisher training and extrication. Yes, we have more mvc and entrapments than we do with fires, but why not show the stuff rescue workers go through, put a dummy in the drivers seat and demonstrate tunneling or how to avoid further injuries from glass penetration and such. Or demonstrate shoring, or airbag use, collapses are rare and once they occur, does your department know what to do? It could pan out to be a good training and demo for open houses. Create a roof prop and and demonstrate cutting techniques or ladder placement?
    As a rule, we have at least 2 live fire demos beyond extinguishers at our Open House. This year, because of the burn ban, we felt that it was better that we cancel all live fire demos.

    We have also discovered that an effective demo should take a maximum of 15 minutes, with an optimum time of 10 minutes, so most of our demos are centered around one or two quick, primary topics.

    In addition, we are often hamstrung by manpower limitations, and much of what we plan is based around that.

    Leave a comment:


  • FIREguy2011
    replied
    Originally posted by LaFireEducator View Post
    We were going to do a similar thing at this year's Open House but we had staffing issues, so it was one of the activities that got scrubbed.

    Will make note that it seemed to work elsewhere and maybe move it higher on the priority list for staffing next year.
    How come nobody does real demonstrations such as forcible entries, piercing nozzles, etc. Everyone just does extinguisher training and extrication. Yes, we have more mvc and entrapments than we do with fires, but why not show the stuff rescue workers go through, put a dummy in the drivers seat and demonstrate tunneling or how to avoid further injuries from glass penetration and such. Or demonstrate shoring, or airbag use, collapses are rare and once they occur, does your department know what to do? It could pan out to be a good training and demo for open houses. Create a roof prop and and demonstrate cutting techniques or ladder placement?

    Leave a comment:

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