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We are a small volunteer department. Our roster is about 15 members but only about half show up to training. We've set two different Saturday mornings each month for training and one Wednesday night a month for a business meeting. On top of that we offer Fire Fighter 1 class every Tuesday night. Three members have succesfully attained Fire Fighter 1 status and 3 have successfully attained First Responder status. We just can't get people to show up to do anything. Normal training days we have myself (training officer), my husband (fire chief), the assistant chief, the asst chief's wife (Medical only), the chaplin (who's also taking fire fighter 1), and another young couple. Does anyone have any ideas on how to get the rest of the department invovled?

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we had the same problem. 27 on the roster and would get 8 to show up, and never the same 8. what we found out is the way to the members is family. not just the brothers and sisters in the department but the ones they come home to. get the family on board and the members will follow. start with (if you don't already) a picnic or an awards dinner for years of service, fire fighter of the year, most calls or drills, so on. we also found we have a better turnout with drills on the week nights. most people dont like to give up that weekend time with their familys...or invite the familys to one drill a month, have a pot-luck. the closer your friendship becomes with them AND their family the more intrest they will show. also try and spend more time with each other outside of the department help each other with projects around the house building a fence a shed . hope this helped
Paul,

THANK YOU!!! You put things into perspective for me.

We are underfunded. My two main med people hang their heads after each call because they don't have the basic equipment to answer AMR when they show up. No pulseox, a backboard we've had for 15 years that's warped, bags stocked with items they paid for out of their own pockets. I've got fire fighters that are wearing gear with other people's names on it because that's what we've got, it's either that or stuff from 20 years ago and a different department. I've worked up a request of items needed with pricing and such, I will submit it to the city council at their next meeting and see where it goes from there.

It's not our officers, it's our board of directors We only have three officers who strive for nothing more than a successful fire department. Their, our, goal is to have a department that will succeed if we are around or if we aren't around. Here's an example as to what happens when we go before the governing body, "So I got this email the other day from FEMA and they say we must be 100% NIMS compliant by this date. I've printed out and highlighted what classes each person needs. The ones in yellow can be done on the computer, the ones in pink must be attended at another location. On the second page you'll find the web address to take the course we will also have the school's computer lab open on these dates so anyone without computer access or who would like some help getting everything set up. The third page is a list of locations to take the other classes. You need to be compliant because blah, blah, blah." Guess how many I have who have taken their classes? 3, three whole people, that I know of. The president of the council (Oh btw he's also the assitant chief), the mayor (she's a good friend that came to one of the days at the school), and one council member (she's my mother in law). If the people "in charge" aren't doing the classes they need, I can see where my firefighters are saying, "Why do I have to?"

I really think we do, or at least try our damnedest, to do a good job training. We understand people's busy schedules, one of the reasons we have two trainings a month we only ask that you make one. We also have offered that if you miss one just let us know when a good time is to get together to go over what we did. If we did a web based training or something via the computer I will send that to the person so they can do it at home when they have time. I'm also 100% honest where I get my training stuff from. I'm not a genius and since I teach for a living a lot of time I don't have the spare time to come up with stuff on my own. I find training online, adjust it to work for us, and I let people know where I found that at.

Here's some examples of our last few trainings.
Review of basic interior fire tactics. It was cold out so we couldn't do hands on. We put of pictures of structures on fire, discussed where to go in, what to do, ect. We try to make as interactive as possible. I put a picture up and say, "Ok here's a single family, one story residence, kitchen fire reported, no smoke showing. Now what do you do?" Then I sit back and let them talk about it amongst themselves. Only stepping in with more questions. "Ok so why would you do what Jeff said over doing what Ashley said?" The answer better not be, "Cause Jeff is the assitant chief." We had a lot of that so there are times when those "In the know" will give wrong answers to make people think. That and it really fires up the fire fighters when they get prove those guys wrong. lol We also sent home a map of the town with the instructions, "Turn this back in at the next meeting with the hydrants marked" We had 5 turn it back in. Those five went to our website clicked on maps and printed it. When we asked the others why they didn't do it they said it took too long and then complained when the others said, I just printed mine off the website. We wanted to know if they were lis
We have the same group always showing up, which is a plus. We've got the family thing down pat, we are such a dysfunctional little related group. lol We went through the list and there is only a couple of people who aren't connected to someone else. Welcome to small town America. I do like the idea of the awards pinic/dinner. If nothing else it would keep the group we have coming excited, help prevent burn out.
I have worked in a couple of departments that were paid/volunteer oriented with students (young men and women working to become fire fighters that either worked day shifts - 1 per week, or 24 hour shifts). I currently work in a large paid department.

In either case training is still an issue. The volunteers may not feel like they need to be there, but even our members who are being paid on shift to attend mandatory department training drag their feet. As an instructor the challenge becomes providing quality training that is basic, simple and easy for the attendees to duplicate.

A couple of things to consider with your members.
1. What is there modivation in being a volunteer? their goal?
2. What do they hope to achieve by being a fire fighter or what do they want to get out of it?

With that you can start to develope training that meets their goals.

Make training multi-dimensional. Reading material, on-line courses, practicals or audio visual. We all need stimulation to learn, it has to be fun and there has to be something in it for us, like a practical application outside of training.

In either case don't beat yourself up. Stay positive and if it helps, show everyone the big picture and give the modivated members some control on how to meet all the requirements. Often having a personal interest and part in the training can make it less of your burden and more of them. I cannot speak about your program, but I hope it is somewhat structured, with certificates and celebrations along the way. Also as they work through the program, give them more responsibilities. Hope it helps.

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