Since most of the people here are volunteers, why do you do it? Everyone has a different reason to come around and devote the tremendous number of hours that it takes to be a volunteer fire or ems provider.
Also give us feedback as to what your department is doing or could be doing to retain this valuable resource. If there is something that keeps you from being "more active", give us the heads up.
This information is extreamly important to keeping volunteer departments alive and well. This will be shared at the next Aliance meeting on June 4th.
Post by SubZeroSapphire on May 15, 2005 15:23:54 GMT -5
Guess I will be the first one to jump in and say something Like you said we all have different reasons. Most departments around here that offer paid positions are looking for a certain amount of experience. For those new in the field, or the area, that would be hard to come by, so you end up out of luck, because you need the job to get the experience, you need the experience to get the job. Funny how that works. That is where volunteering came into play, at least for me it did. Volunteer, gain experience.....
I sometimes wonder if people might not be more active (hmm maybe even someone like me ) if a fire dept. wasn't well... so much like a fire dept. Having been around departments for many years now, I have come to understand that there are certain kinds of actions, games, conversations, etc, that go on, that you sometimes think, hmm maybe that isn't really very professional. I think that could wear on someones nerves very quick... Of course, this is all just my opinion, no one has to agree with me ;D
You're Blind to the Fact that the Hand You Hold is the Hand that Holds You Down.
Why I volunteer? that is a good question. i can honestly say when i got into the fire service 7 years ago i did it because i wanted to help the community. i thought that this could be my way of giving back to the community that i live in. Now over the last couple of years i've looked back at the calls a ran the people that i have met and some of the awesome experiences that i have been through and i realized that finally found something i'm good at and the fire dept as been the only thing that i have stuck with over the years. And Sub your right the best way to get a paid positon is to volunteer to gain experience. i did it. and i wouldn't change it for the world.
Post by Brian McCaffrey on May 15, 2005 20:00:06 GMT -5
I do it because I really like the cool fire dept T-shirts and I think I look really neat with my two pagers, portable scanner and glove pouch on my belt. If it wouldn't be for volunteering, I wouldn't be able to have the $1500 blue Vector bar on my $500 Ford Fiesta.
OK, anybody that actually knows me ought to be laughing their behinds off right now. At least, they'd better be...
I think alot of us got into this as a way of "helping the community". At least, that is the most common answer that I've heard in interviews with prospective members. That was my reason too, in part anyway. I had an interest in the medical field and loved the whole EMS pre-hospital aspect. However, it only took one ride in an old open cab 1959 ALF to completely hook me into the fire side aspect of it.
Fifteen years later, why am I still doing it? Obviously, with two kids and the family obligations, my time is precious and I don't get to spend alot of time at the firehouse, but I still love the camaraderie of the firehouse life. To me, a good fire company is a true brotherhood and family. Although I started out at another area fire company, I have been at PHFD for about nine years and it is my home. With my schedule and other priorities, it may be weeks, sometimes months between visits and walking through the door still feels like coming home. That is the key for me. Good people, good attitudes. Some of my firehouse brothers are closer to me than my own actual brothers.
There are many good fire companies in this area. Some are harder to fit into than others. Most companies have their "cliques" whether they want to admit it or not. Some companies are one large clique and you just aren't welcome if you don't fit their image. I've witnessed that firsthand and it isn't pleasant at all.
What do we do at "the Hall" to keep our volunteers? We just be ourselves. We are a family and we take pride in that. SZS, you say that you wish a fire dept wasn't so much like a fire dept. To us, that is what keeps us going. We insult each other, we play pranks on each other, we even fight among ourselves occasionally. But we back each other up without question and would gladly follow each other through hell. That is why I still do it. I'm a family man and this is my family, too.
My son will be six this summer and can find his way around the Engines about as well as I can. My eight year old daughter loves the ambulance and can't wait to be able to ride on a call. My stepson is 11 and has been asking when he can join. It looks like this will continue to be a family affair for us.
There's a lot of good reasons out there. Some have already been listed here by people a lot wiser than me. Some might say they do it for the "rush" and there probably is a little bit of that in all of us.
Another reasons is if I don't, then who will. None of us are so important that the service would die without us but together a bunch of "I"s make a "WE", and WE can get things done.
Today, I find myself involved because somebody has to be there to help the young pups so they to can someday be an Old Dog. I am proud of the fact that my son has stepped up and is involved.
Most importantly lets not forget the big reason. Reaching out and helping your neighbor in their time of need, is the right thing to do!
I would say for me, It was in the family and I followed suit. Once the BUG got me, I was hooked, and I just can't stay away. I learned as much as I could (still learning) participated in every event, and tried to make ALL the runs possible. I love helping and making a difference in all aspects. I got the experience and training which in turn has given me a career in the fire service. A big downfall is getting burnt out, being so dedicated you feel guilty for not being at the Firehouse or helping out or trying to be around for every function. I think the Vol. fire service is loosing " PRIDE & DEDICATION " Retaining Volunteers is quite hard with the requirements ie bingo, drawings, fairs, etc. along with training. I think it's wrong, however to require X amount of fundraisers, and not require X amount of training, and fire/ems responses etc. But I truly understand the importance of fund raising. I also have to agree with SUB ZERO and CAFF about the cliques, double standards, and BS that goes on, it does get rather aggravating, and I've seen good Volunteers quit or go elsware because of it. I have since given up the position of DFC, however remain ACTIVE, and I would now like to focus my efforts on the training of local Volunteers, remain active with the FCFCA to include the County Alliance.
OK We heard from many of us "old folk" about why it kept us around. Yes, for many of us, including myself, the volunteer service eventially lead to career. Although my current paid profession is not directly fire or ems related, my experience has definately put me where I am today.
Why are you "munchkins" in this game? What is it going to take to keep you 2, 5, 10 years in the service. If you hope to land in a career department, that is great. Just never forget where you came from or what you went through to get there. I am just glad that some of the stunts we pulled were not improper then. (Some of you know what I mean, and for those that don't, these make some good engine room stories, and they are stories.)
Keep the faith, never regress.
Last Edit: May 17, 2005 16:54:10 GMT -5 by BigFoot
Post by Instructor on May 19, 2005 20:54:36 GMT -5
It is a birth defect that I have the part of the brain that says “GET OUT THE PLACE IS ON FIRE” just isn’t there. It is all about the rush!
OK really: Because I’m a fireman, not one of the card carrying “firefighters” or “members” that just belong. After 26 years in the service I still remember the “Old guys at the hose hall telling stories about the big one they fought and the way they were there for each other. The way the 1950 Mack ran to SMRC and pumped water for four days at a flood until the exhaust was cherry red. Old time firemen had that “God – Country – family - honor and Firehouse” in their hearts. A lot of great men and women have influenced me and I thank them. Pleasant Hall VFD gave me the greatest opportunity to go to college at HACC. A special thank you to Ray Waltz Sr., C.N. Barnhart, Raymond Thomson, Kelly Grove, Fire Chief Ron Flegel, Fire Chief don Ringer,Dana Baker, Bob McCaa, Bill Little, Rick Mitchell, Rusty Waltz, Mike Bock, Bobby Heckman, Jerry Hartman, Jim (Bones) Hammond, Trayer Stoops and a lot of others. From those men I learn many important values. I still volunteer because I’m a fireman, I will honor the memories of the brothers past and try to make the people that helped me along proud.
Things have changed a lot the fun has been taken way, but the old guys told me that a true firemen makes the difference, and to do that you have to train, know your equipment, help make the money to run the place, get in there and get it and most of all help everyone you can.
Why do I teach – I’m training my replacements. And most of all I want the brothers and sisters that do this crazy thing called emergency services to be safety.
The aim of education should be to teach us rather how to think, than what to think--rather to improve our minds, so as to enable us to think for ourselves, than to load the memory with thoughts of other men. - Bill Beattie
Gary Summers, Officer IV,Fire Instructor III,Inspector III
Post by Here4theRush on May 22, 2005 12:47:37 GMT -5
As a relatively new member to the Fire Dept. I can say that this is definitely an exciting place for new members. Being still in high school makes it even more interesting. The fun I have when at the station is unbelievable. The people at the station are incredible and it truly is like one big family. I have learned the hard way the people enjoy insults and jokes and now I take part in the fun myself. The way a station can change from having fun to becoming completely serious when a call comes in amazes me everytime it happens.
But, the one thing that keeps me coming back to the station is how it is like a house with a big garage. Having a kitchen, TV room, game room, weight room, and so on really makes it appealing for high schoolers. So, my advice on how to keep at least some of your volunteers, keep your station neat. I have enjoyed the time that I have speant at the station and know that I will be involved in emergency services for years to come.
I came to the service for something to give back and serve the community rather then be a typical teenager who could give a damn. I had no idea what I was getting myself into but I wanted to help. My grandfather helped to start the ambulance in his hometown in NJ and he always told me stories when I was little. He was one of my biggest forces. After joining I became very close to a select few individuals at the station and medics who helped me develop my skills as an EMT and a firefighter. I have never been told that I wasnt allowed to be a firefighter cuz Im a girl...Im just another one of the guys. Now that Im away from the area I do miss running the calls down there. When Im home, you'll find me at the firehouse though not to run calls, Id rather go to the firehouse and see the ones I love, my second family. The people from the firehouse and the people whom we serve are the reason I stay in the service and the reason why I hope to never leave.
Why do I volunteer, well that's a good question and when I started at age 14 as a junior member I would not be able to tell you the reason why. Since I am older now I would have to say that I just can't sit back in my chair when I am at home when the minitor opens up and not do nothing for the town or towns that I live in, plus it's in my blood and always will there one way or another. I love this Job, I love it more then life it's self. Volunteer firefighting has made me who I am today, I owe a lot of Thanks to Dana Baker, Dusty Stoner, Eric Varner, Curtis Brian, Dale Hall and Nick Barbuzanes for helping me to get were I am today, some of these brothers still push and guide me to do better and to keep on learning and training. I can not think of any thing else I would rather be doing. Lets face it this how I met my wife, and this is the way that I started my career.
There is an article on Firehouse.com from USA Today on the volunteer issue in America. Take the time to read the article, the headliner of the story is from Penn Township, I think in Perry County?, correct me if I am wrong.
Even though many of us want to see the volunteer system improve, it is going to take a tremendous paradigm shift from the current paths that many communities are experiencing. We must learn from our successes and failures, remembering that each community and organization is different. A process or method that works in one department, may not be well accepted or fit into the operations of another. The Fire and EMS organizations are each unique, but as I have often said, "If you are going to do what is right, you might upset some people."
We elect leaders to make the tough decisions with the best information they have at the time. Hindsite is always correct, but you better check what side of the donkey you are on when you use it. Support the Standards Committee, they are looking out for the overall best of ALL organizations.
Post by sexyemschic on Nov 11, 2005 21:01:30 GMT -5
First of all good one Foot, this is a great post for the site, something productive!!!!!!!!!!!
I was born into this business, when you have as much family history in it as I do, it's in your blood. Some people might think that I'm nuts, but I have been around the firehouses in this county since I was born and I have been active fire & ems for the last 5 years. Yeah everyone's station has their cliques and we all have our ups and downs and our good guys and bad whether you want to admit it or not. But whether or not we all like each other or get along at all times, it's our second family. NO ONE & I MEAN NO ONE understands how we feel about what we do except those who do it as well. If you have a bad call & don't have family/loved ones in the business, it's not easy to go home & talk about it. I've spent many many nights in our engine bay or watch room or out front on the bench(usually chain smoking) after a bad call talking about it to my second family & we find a way to work through it all together. I have dedicated a lot of time & effort into calls, training, fundraisers, public relations (parades, tours, open houses, etc) and I will admit that at times I don't have a life and that I will spend days at the station & work and not see my house, but it's worth it. If I don't do it, will someone else??? I am not willing to put my community at risk by not doing what I love to do with the train of thought that someone else will if I don't, because there are no guarantees. Some of us whom I like to call professional volunteers and the paid professionals have even sacraficed so much of their life that their personal relationships have failed, I believe that more than 1 person in Franklin County has been divorced or seperated from their spouse for putting the firehouse first!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! But in the end no matter what it's all worth it. I know that there may not always be the thanks we deserve down here from the public, but in the end we will all be on ambulances, fire trucks, fire engines, or what ever you ride up in heaven with the respect and thanks that we deserve for the sacrafices that we make, I can't only hope that they are orange!!!!!!!!!!!! ;D