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Volunteer Department: Do you have Contributing Members?

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  • Volunteer Department: Do you have Contributing Members?

    trying to get some ideas on rules your departments may have for contributing members. We have a small handful of folks who hang around but cannot meet the membership guidelines (live out of the district, work will not allow them to be on the department, cannot meet the call load requirements, etc) but still want to help. looking to write up a guideline for these folks and want to see what other departments have in place.

    What can (and cant) they do (drive trucks, fight fires, respond to specific scenes, etc).

  • #2
    If these willing hands are wiling to help out, I would try to include them on your FD. If there is any formal definition of active firefighters, as stated in your bylaws, city policy, etc. and they do not meet them, you should consider to add them as "support employees". If there is no formal definition of "support employee", in your bylaws, city policy, etc., you should add it formally and see to it, that they are covered by insurance (Workers Compensation for death or injuries, liability insurance for vehicle driving/riding, etc.).

    After getting them a formal designation, so they are legally covered for insurance purposes, you may want to add to your bylaws, job descriptions, etc., what the membership criteria they would have to meet. Obviously, they would have to have criminal background checks done and other pre-employment requirements.

    A formal job description for a support employee, would need to designate what duties and authority they would have and carry out. Also, if you have a formal volunteer organization, your bylaws should indicate if they can have voting rights (selection of officers and membership, spending money, etc.).

    Along the lines of your command structure, you would have to add them in as well. You could have a member of these support employees as an officer, who would have the authority to carry out duties at incidents and other events (fundraisers, department work nights, etc.).

    Next would be training. These support employees should have a formal training program. Obvious training would be OSHA, HIPPA, and other mandated requirements. Depending on their duties, they would need training for specialized tasks. If they fill SCBA air bottles, they would formally need to be instructed on how to run the cascade tanks, breathing air compressor, etc.. If they are allowed to drive FD vehicles, they need to be trained on that as well.

    Other officers in the FD, would use the support employee officer to coordinate any help they need. If a fire prevention officer was going to have a fire safety open house, they could contact the support employee officer to line up help in cleaning the fire hall, setting up display booths, cooking food and other activities needed to be done for the fire safety open house.

    Depending on the support employees you would have, they could provide their time and talent to complete duties, that could free up regular FD members so they can run calls, attend training, etc.. This could include washing the fire apparatus, mowing the fire hall lawn, working fundraisers, cleaning the fire hall and even working at emergency scenes (directing traffic, filling SCBA air bottles, etc.).

    Do not forget to see if your retired FD members want to be support employees. Their past firefighting training and experience can be valuable. If they now have health problems or just old age and cannot enter burning buildings anymore, they may want to help out in other ways, such as directing traffic, etc..
    Last edited by FIRE117; 08-15-2015, 12:09 AM.

    Comment


    • #3
      If you are going to have "support" members - in my opinion , you need very definitive lines of separation. If not you will have 'support " members creating a gray area where they end up crossing over (to active)to perform a task but may only be able to do bits and pieces of it. It (the job descriptions) should be clearly defined and read and signed by all members.
      ?

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by spacecwboy View Post
        trying to get some ideas on rules your departments may have for contributing members. We have a small handful of folks who hang around but cannot meet the membership guidelines (live out of the district, work will not allow them to be on the department, cannot meet the call load requirements, etc) but still want to help. looking to write up a guideline for these folks and want to see what other departments have in place.

        What can (and cant) they do (drive trucks, fight fires, respond to specific scenes, etc).
        Do I have this right? You want to create a membership category for guys/gals who only want to show when they feel like it, not help with fund raising, only answer the "good" calls and train when they want on what they want? They don't have to bother with all the "work" that regular members must endure to keep your fire department operating? Yet they will get all the same benefits as the regular members?

        How do I sign up.
        "This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?

        Comment


        • #5
          While I agree with Bones to a certain extent, what is described sounds an awful lot like the "ladies auxiliary" of old (although a fair number still exist). Back in the day, it was made up chiefly of members' wives (and occasionally daughters) who helped with fund-raisers as well as brought refreshments to major incidents.

          Since the auxiliaries were formally constituted, they had coverage. The lines of demarcation were pretty clear.

          I've heard of auxiliaries that accepted others (old guys too old to fight fire, others not affiliated with the fire department proper) with no problems.

          Given some manner of specific duties and responsibilities, including participation requirements, I see no problem with the finding a way to include them. There are plenty of things they can do.
          Opinions my own. Standard disclaimers apply.

          Everyone goes home. Safety begins with you.

          Comment


          • #6
            First of all, they are NOT firefighters, do not issue them turn out gear. If they are not training or meeting requirements to be a firefighter the delineation needs to be crystal clear. Secondly, if you make exceptions for essentially fair weather, only do what they want members, and allow them to be firefighters, what would be my incentive to keep up my training and show up for the mundane tasks around the firehouse?

            I would look at alternative talents from these individuals. Is anyone a diesel mechanic? An IT guy? An accountant? An enthusiastic fund raiser? Good with Pub Ed and PR? A custodian? Car detailer? Things that need to get taken care of but are not actual fire fighting tasks.
            Crazy, but that's how it goes
            Millions of people living as foes
            Maybe it's not too late
            To learn how to love, and forget how to hate

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Bones42 View Post
              Do I have this right? You want to create a membership category for guys/gals who only want to show when they feel like it, not help with fund raising, only answer the "good" calls and train when they want on what they want? They don't have to bother with all the "work" that regular members must endure to keep your fire department operating? Yet they will get all the same benefits as the regular members?

              How do I sign up.
              I didn't see it that way at all. It doesn't sound like they want to cherry pick runs, just that their availability is the problem, or they can't physically do the job. If you can find a way to fit in people that want to help but can't make a full commitment, then I see nothing wrong with that. How many fully privileged volunteer firefighters barely show up??
              Last edited by johnsb; 08-17-2015, 04:03 PM.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by johnsb View Post
                I didn't see it that way at all. It doesn't sound like they want to cherry pick runs, just that their availability is the problem, or they can't physically do the job. If you can find a way to fit in people that want to help but can't make a full commitment, then I see nothing wrong with that. How many fully privileged volunteer firefighters barely show up??
                None on my department. We do understand that due to work, canning season, snowplowing in the winter, there may be specific times during the year that their availability is restricted. But they make their required trainings and meetings so we are happy to keep them. Despite attempts to get them to come back, we got rid of 5 members who just stopped showing up. Members that don't show up consistently, that don't make training consistently, that don't meet membership requirements, are a drag on the department. They affect morale of those that go the extra mile to be there and they affect safety by not be up to date on equipment and tactical changes.

                There is surely a difference between not being able to make everything due to work or family commitments, and just being a slacker that doesn't feel like applying themselves. Honestly why even sign up if you won't make the effort to be there when you're needed and not just when you want to be?

                Read my post above where I mentioned the idea of alternative jobs for people who can't make the commitment to be a firefighter.
                Crazy, but that's how it goes
                Millions of people living as foes
                Maybe it's not too late
                To learn how to love, and forget how to hate

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by johnsb View Post
                  I didn't see it that way at all. It doesn't sound like they want to cherry pick runs, just that their availability is the problem, or they can't physically do the job. If you can find a way to fit in people that want to help but can't make a full commitment, then I see nothing wrong with that. How many fully privileged volunteer firefighters barely show up??
                  I guess we set our standards higher. We expect the guys showing up to train with us and know how we operate. We expect them to know the positions and what is expected to be done at those positions. We also expect them to understand others will be doing certain tasks so they can do theirs. Physically can't do the job? So what are the doing on the fire ground? Our driver/operators train with us. They are expected to do more than simply drive the truck and put in pump. We have some older guys (heck, I am one nowadays) but we are still able to perform fire ground tasks. We do have a category for guys who can't do those items....it's called Fire Police. They assist with traffic control. They provide a sometimes very invaluable service in my area by doing that. They are still required to attend meetings, trainings, fund raising, etc. Do we have some guys who only do the minimums.....yup, but not for too long. We have lost a few, we have turned a few into more motivated members. I prefer a good quality membership over a large number of minimum effort guys. Our membership has increased in the last few years so I am guessing people would agree.
                  "This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    First you have to define what your firefighters have to do and what their requirements are. Then you can see if they meet these or not. Simply put, they can do what they can meet the requirements to do. If they can't be at training and be up on the tactics and tools, they shouldn't be actively fighting fires. Say they drive a dump truck and can't meet all training requirements, but show up when they can, maybe they would be a good chauffer. If their job is driving a very similar sized vehicle, they can probably do so better than the average guy that drives nothing larger than his sedan except when the tones drop. To be a pump operator as well as driver would take extra training, but maybe they could get the truck to the scene or operate a tanker.

                    Find out what they can do, and see if it fits. If not, find something for them to do around the station that they can handle such as maintenance, administration, or other tasks. Everyone can be of value - even if it is just selling raffle tickets in front of the local hardware store.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Generally speaking, everybody can find a place on the fire department. That being said, it may not be on the fireground.

                      All three of the departments I work or volunteer for (2 combination & 1 volunteer) have a fireground support designation, which does include apparatus operations, rehab, EMS, photography and in a couple of cases, technical rescue specialists that have no desire to fight fire but participate with our Technical Rescue Team. I know of a neighboring department that have a couple of members that only participate with the Dive Team. They are required to attend training, but the overall requirements are less than for functional firefighting members. Most of the drivers are past active firefighting members that have slowed down and simply are not able to be active anymore at that level. Obviously, those that are certified in EMS are required to attend enough training to maintain certs and the tech rescue folks attend tech rescue training.

                      We also have a few folks that only work on the non-fireground side performing various admin functions.
                      Train to fight the fires you fight.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by FyredUp View Post
                        None on my department. We do understand that due to work, canning season, snowplowing in the winter, there may be specific times during the year that their availability is restricted. But they make their required trainings and meetings so we are happy to keep them. Despite attempts to get them to come back, we got rid of 5 members who just stopped showing up. Members that don't show up consistently, that don't make training consistently, that don't meet membership requirements, are a drag on the department. They affect morale of those that go the extra mile to be there and they affect safety by not be up to date on equipment and tactical changes.

                        There is surely a difference between not being able to make everything due to work or family commitments, and just being a slacker that doesn't feel like applying themselves. Honestly why even sign up if you won't make the effort to be there when you're needed and not just when you want to be?

                        Read my post above where I mentioned the idea of alternative jobs for people who can't make the commitment to be a firefighter.
                        Uh, I was saying kinda the same thing, my reply really wasn't aimed at your post.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Bones42 View Post
                          I guess we set our standards higher. We expect the guys showing up to train with us and know how we operate. We expect them to know the positions and what is expected to be done at those positions. We also expect them to understand others will be doing certain tasks so they can do theirs. Physically can't do the job? So what are the doing on the fire ground? Our driver/operators train with us. They are expected to do more than simply drive the truck and put in pump. We have some older guys (heck, I am one nowadays) but we are still able to perform fire ground tasks. We do have a category for guys who can't do those items....it's called Fire Police. They assist with traffic control. They provide a sometimes very invaluable service in my area by doing that. They are still required to attend meetings, trainings, fund raising, etc. Do we have some guys who only do the minimums.....yup, but not for too long. We have lost a few, we have turned a few into more motivated members. I prefer a good quality membership over a large number of minimum effort guys. Our membership has increased in the last few years so I am guessing people would agree.
                          I see the question as trying to find jobs for those that can't meet the requirements. Maintenance, cleaning, fundraising, training, etc. Maybe even running rehab on a scene. What's wrong with finding a place for people to help within their capability? The more people that a dept. has involved = more resources. Not everyone has to be a firefighter. We're not talking about putting some seventy year old, or a 400 lb. guy in a pack and on the nozzle.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Bones42 View Post
                            I guess we set our standards higher. We expect the guys showing up to train with us and know how we operate. We expect them to know the positions and what is expected to be done at those positions. We also expect them to understand others will be doing certain tasks so they can do theirs. Physically can't do the job? So what are the doing on the fire ground? Our driver/operators train with us. They are expected to do more than simply drive the truck and put in pump. We have some older guys (heck, I am one nowadays) but we are still able to perform fire ground tasks. We do have a category for guys who can't do those items....it's called Fire Police. They assist with traffic control. They provide a sometimes very invaluable service in my area by doing that. They are still required to attend meetings, trainings, fund raising, etc. Do we have some guys who only do the minimums.....yup, but not for too long. We have lost a few, we have turned a few into more motivated members. I prefer a good quality membership over a large number of minimum effort guys. Our membership has increased in the last few years so I am guessing people would agree.
                            Agreed -- it sounds like you have a very definitive line drawn. I have a problem with calling "limited" members firefighters. You have your super driver respond a tanker and he gets there and you are short handed, well "probably wouldn't hurt to stretch line --- then probably wouldn't hurt to flow a little water from the sidewalk - bystanders scream grannys inside --- hero kicks in -your 300 lb truck driver steps in the front door and down he goes -- or worse yet your dressed up truck driver stands in the yard and lets granny burn up.
                            ?

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by johnsb View Post
                              I see the question as trying to find jobs for those that can't meet the requirements. Maintenance, cleaning, fundraising, training, etc. Maybe even running rehab on a scene. What's wrong with finding a place for people to help within their capability? The more people that a dept. has involved = more resources. Not everyone has to be a firefighter. We're not talking about putting some seventy year old, or a 400 lb. guy in a pack and on the nozzle.
                              He listed these items....drive trucks, fight fires, respond to specific scenes. Doesn't sound like they are looking for fundraising helpers or maintenance men.
                              "This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?

                              Comment

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