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What's is going on with volly departments losing support of the public?

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  • What's is going on with volly departments losing support of the public?

    Us being a rural department, it seems like we are losing more and more support for the department of the general public. This doesn't only seem to be the case for our company but numerous other companies and even companies across the US. Our membership requests have also fallen over the years along with some of our own attendance. We use to have 40 some-odd members, now on meeting nights we have roughly 25 routing members. Our neighboring rescue squad has even had to put a paid crew in to work days. Even companies that we work mutual aid with are starting to run into the same issues. I started to notice this roughly 6 years ago, we had a new building referendum to put up a new building, I forgot the exact numbers on it but it was around 2-3 million dollars. It got voted down, we then put in a new plan for another smaller building in 2013 but that then got voted down. Our comissioners that were pro-fire department, are now forced out by anti-fire department members in their place. Now we are relying on a addition to our current station which will cost roughly 600,000 but chances are that is going to get voted down, which if it does we are really going to be SOL, because we have no room, our trucks are a foot apart some of them, others are stuck behind brick walls that need to be pulled out in sequence of other trucks. Since when did we lose the support of all the public enough that a handful now go against us offensively? I even looked into the issue, a quick Google search of "firehouse referendum" shows numerous fire departments around the US in need of repairs and are not being given the support they need. Volunteering appears to be a dieing epidemic along with the support of our volunteers. What are your guys thoughts?

  • #2
    What does your department do to try to earn community support?
    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


    • #3
      Can't help you. Our membership numbers are higher than they have ever been. Town just purchased us a new truck last year. We are also very involved with lots of town activities...
      "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


      • #4
        Originally posted by Bones42 View Post
        Can't help you. Our membership numbers are higher than they have ever been. Town just purchased us a new truck last year. We are also very involved with lots of town activities...
        Bones...This was exactly what I was talking about. We are involved in the Memorial Day ceremony and parade in our town. We follow all that up with a fundraiser brat fry open house at the station. We walk the kids across the highway for Halloween. We have co-run a yearly duct tape dance with the garden club. We used to run a haunted hill at Halloween. I would like to do more this year like offer a class on fire extinguishers or a CPR class at the station. We do training at varying places in the village to be visible to more of the community.

        We have to do more than just go to calls to earn the support of our community.
        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


        • #5
          Duplicate post. Nothing to see here.
          Last edited by FyredUp; 02-25-2016, 12:05 PM.
          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


          • #6
            Originally posted by FyredUp View Post
            Bones...This was exactly what I was talking about. We are involved in the Memorial Day ceremony and parade in our town. We follow all that up with a fundraiser brat fry open house at the station. We walk the kids across the highway for Halloween. We have co-run a yearly duct tape dance with the garden club. We used to run a haunted hill at Halloween. I would like to do more this year like offer a class on fire extinguishers or a CPR class at the station. We do training at varying places in the village to be visible to more of the community.

            We have to do more than just go to calls to earn the support of our community.
            Yep --- the more you can reach out the better --and remember , generally the days of the mega fire has passed. Fire is down a lot of people's list. And Fyred up ---- you might want to get checked out ---you are starting to repeat yourself ---bwwahhhaaaaaaaa
            ?

            Comment


            • #7
              No "community support" issues here. Plenty of support shown through our facebook page, website, donations that keep rolling in, etc etc etc. Like the others have said, what is your organization doing to harvest community support? Are you a bunch of drunken rednecks that speed through town at 90mph at the drop of the first tone, or are you professional in your appearance, demeanor and actions at ALL TIMES, not just during calls? Do you get out there at community events? You want the community's support? That's a 2-way street.

              Oh, and by the way......In case if no one has told you......Declining membership, declining participation by current members and having to hire career staff during daytime hours is nothing new........And is across the board, across the United States.
              "Loyalty Above all Else. Except Honor."

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by FyredUp View Post
                What does your department do to try to earn community support?
                We do a few things here and there, chicken BBQ lunch/dinner every year... we don't have a hall or anything and our building is run down so it's really hard to do anything at our station. We have a yearly holloween party, use to have a small haunted house setup. Other than that it's really rural so there's not much we can do, can't do a parade or anything.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by slackjawedyokel View Post
                  Yep --- the more you can reach out the better --and remember , generally the days of the mega fire has passed. Fire is down a lot of people's list. And Fyred up ---- you might want to get checked out ---you are starting to repeat yourself ---bwwahhhaaaaaaaa
                  Yeah I saw that this morning...I am old you know!!
                  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


                  • #10
                    Here's another way to crush community support. Sit in the local bar, tavern, saloon, wearing department t-shirts, sweatshirts, jackets, ball caps, drinking for hours and then rush out when the tones drop. Or stumble out to your car after a long night of drinking to drive home obviously intoxicated.

                    Looking professional, while wearing department clothing, has no set time limits or location.
                    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


                    • #11
                      What are you doing to help yourselves? If all you are doing is asking the municipality to build, buy, etc and you aren't trying to raise funds yourselves, you look lazy to the public. We have found that the more that we try to raise money on our own, the more we are in the public eye, and the more support we have. We also post on our website and facebook page what we are doing, what the money is needed for, and very vocally thank those that patronize our fundraisers and support us. The community may not even realize that you need money. If you aren't telling them why you need the money and what for, it looks greedy.

                      How many pieces of apparatus do you have? It sounds like there is a lot. That in itself can make it look to the public like you are already over funded. By no means am I condemning you or your department, just giving feedback that we got years ago. We changed, and the financial landscape for us has changed with us.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by HuntPA View Post
                        What are you doing to help yourselves? If all you are doing is asking the municipality to build, buy, etc and you aren't trying to raise funds yourselves, you look lazy to the public. We have found that the more that we try to raise money on our own, the more we are in the public eye, and the more support we have. We also post on our website and facebook page what we are doing, what the money is needed for, and very vocally thank those that patronize our fundraisers and support us. The community may not even realize that you need money. If you aren't telling them why you need the money and what for, it looks greedy.

                        How many pieces of apparatus do you have? It sounds like there is a lot. That in itself can make it look to the public like you are already over funded. By no means am I condemning you or your department, just giving feedback that we got years ago. We changed, and the financial landscape for us has changed with us.
                        We have 7 pieces of apparatus in total and 1 atv, which is 2 engines, ones an older 2 seater, like 1980s with a manual tranny, the other is like a 2007 spartan. We have a rescue truck with 10 seats in the back that's a 1997 and is a massive POS, brush truck, which is a 2001ish f250 powerstroke, a 1980s tanker that holders 2000 gallons of water, doesn't have a pumper on it, a squad truck, another f250 with a triton motor, that carries a lot of our misc stuff, pumps for pump outs, saws, traffic stuff, generator lights, etc. And our utility van which is on its last leg, more so just carries around our used hose for cleanup, all of our rope stuff, and occasionally extra foam concentrate. And last but not least we have a 2 seater atv with water and a pump on it for brush fires. Just about everything we have is always being used, there's not a piece of apparatus that sits around collecting dust. However our utility van is usually sitting outside since we don't have room and we park our atv in our meeting room. If weather gets bad enough we usually push the atv back more in the meeting room and put our utility van in there. Imagine that, trying to have a meeting with 2 pieces of apparatus parked in there, which is only a 20x30 meeting room.

                        We also don't have any essentials, we are pretty bare bones, fridge with barely anything in it besides water, small kitchen that usually never gets used, 1 unisex bathroom, 1 office about 12x15, 1 gear washer with no dryer, some of the pieces of gear is in the meeting room also on racks because it doesn't fit in our bays, and between a few of our trucks we only have about a foot and a half of room to get in.

                        What do you guys do for fundraisers and community events? Right now we do our yearly chicken BBQ and holloween party, not really much other than that. One of the biggest reason for the fall in community support is because of about 1 or 2 in the town is against us so he does everything he can whenever we try to pass something, takes the time to print and send a letter to every citizen in the town telling us to vote against us with a ton of propaganda included. Therefore it ends up being a total wash out when it comes time to vote. He also manages to put something on the front page of the newspaper the day before too. That is currently our main issue with our referendums getting voted down.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Why not hold a series of informational community meetings AT THE FIRE STATION where you invite the community in to see what the issues are? Have the trucks, equipment, and the station CLEAN so they can see that you take care of your stuff, but that the space is totally inadequate. You have to fight back against the negativity of those defeating you but do it professionally and with facts people can't deny.

                          Leave the trucks in the station so people can see how tight it is.
                          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


                          • #14
                            Well addressed Fyred.

                            A couple of years ago I came up with an idea to have a community appreciation dinner. I have mentioned it here before.

                            Community relations are what we live and die by in the volunteer world now.

                            The big issue with us was misinformation at the coffee shops. No information from the fire dept. leads to misinformation, every time.

                            What we did was have an open house with all the firemen bringing a salad or side dish. My folks and I bought a couple of whole hogs and a buddy cooked them. We did not charge a dime or ask for any donations. We had everything cleaned up and looking nice.

                            Some of the main topics we hit on during the talking portion of the dinner was our budget, laid bare for everyone to see, how we got the station built, how we acquired the trucks and equipment, membership numbers, call volume, training hours, types of calls, history of the department, and to top it off we did a real time extrication demonstration for the attendees. We invited the volunteer ambulance to participate as well.

                            It was a huge success and our donations increased a bunch afterwards.

                            It is not enough to just be a "fire" department anymore. It does no good to make demands, and then pout when you dont get what you want.
                            In these times of limited budgets we need to work harder to be seen as "essential". The politicians and some citizens know that you and your fellow firefighters are going to do the job anyway. Make those people the minority by using transparency and be honest with your needs.

                            We had a chief threaten to resign a couple of towns over after the town refused to buy his department a 650,000 dollar ladder truck.

                            The town could no easier afford a trip to the moon for all its citizens than a 650,000 dollar truck. He lost a lot of respect after the tantrum he threw.

                            Get the people behind you and good things will happen.
                            The fire service is about service to our fellow man.
                            There is a trust that must not be broken and we are the keepers of that trust.
                            Captain Dave LeBlanc

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Asking for money and getting it voted on without putting forth significant efforts to educate the public will get you beat EVERY SINGLE TIME! You and your department have to go around making your needs known, and get public support built up long before it ever gets to a vote.

                              You say you are a rural department. Define what you mean when you tell us "rural". When I think of a rural department, a $600,000 figure is completely out of the question, much less a $2-3 million project. And if you are having one fundraiser a year, that isn't conveying to the public that you have a lot of needs.

                              First thing I would suggest is to visit with members of the community and see what they think of your department. Just ask, but keep in mind how you phrase your questioning will determine if you get the response you need or not. Ask things like "In general, what do you think of the fire department?" "What do you like about the fire department?" "What do you think could be improved at the fire department?"

                              Our department had decent community support, but when started putting out more efforts to engage the community in person or via social media, it helped our cause a lot. People weren't seeing a lot of the work we were doing or the training we were doing until we started posting it on Facebook. Now everybody can see in a few clicks what we are doing and where the money is being spent. Not saying this has cured all our problems because it hasn't and won't, but if you aren't winning the PR battle, you aren't winning any battles.

                              Comment

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