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  1. #1
    Platinum Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    central Illinois near Lake Shelbyville
    Case 2090 Massey Ferguson 4233 John Deere 4700

    Default Rural Volunteer Fire Dept.

    Our town is hurting for volunteer firemen and women. There has been 3 TV stations do a story on our situation and one on line news source. We have put up flyers and asked everyone we know about volunteering. The other day we had a small field fire, one person answered the call, he asked for mutual aid from another town and they got no response so he fought it alone. This has happened twice in recent weeks. I know this is a tractor forum but I know some of you are firemen and I was wondering if it is a problem in your area. If so what are you doing to recruit members. We have a junior fireman organization and the membership on it is down to 2. I can remember 24 years ago when I joined I was on a waiting list to get on. Now we have about 10 to 12 members and about 8 active, no one on the waiting list. Last night we had a call for a guy that turned a riding lawn tractor over on him and we 4 firemen together at 5 pm. The day time is the worst but it is getting that way of a night too.

  2. #2
    Gold Member marimus's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Toogoolawah, Queensland, Australia
    New Holland TT75

    Default Re: Rural Volunteer Fire Dept.

    I know that in my state the red tape is a hurdle that keeps new volunteers away

    Not sure what you guys have to do, but here a police background check is required before joining. Then you have to get the volunteers to put forward a motion that you join, which must be accepted before your application can be processed.

    Then 6-12 months later when the state get around to it, they will process your application and you can join.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2010

    Default Re: Rural Volunteer Fire Dept.

    It's getting tougher and tougher for volunteers. There is a lot more training that is required than in past years. You might contact the National Volunteer Firefighter Council for ideas.

  4. #4
    Super Member schmism's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Peoria IL
    New holland TC(33)

    Default Re: Rural Volunteer Fire Dept.

    I serve on our local VFD.

    Just recently completed my FF2 certification. I am one of 2 people in my dept with it.

    our district does not enforce any kind of mandatory training hr requirement. nor do they do any kind of background check.

    even with such lax requirements we still struggle to find adults to serve. Ive been the last adult to join in like 10 years. All other members have been juniors that have eventually gotten old enough to move out of JR position. aka just turning 21.

    over half our dept that regularly responds to calls is under 25. While it might not sound like an issue, the leadership, and maturity that a working fire ground demands is a constant struggle for our dept.

    While many in the dept would preach saftey, there is a lack of real followup on it. ie lax training requirements, poor policy enforcement, and outdated gear despite funding that would seem to allow more frequent upgrades/replacements.

    While economic times are tough, people really need to consider the basic services a VFD provides to there community. Perhaps its time for the creation of a district to encompass a larger area ie tax base. Perhaps its time to increase the fire tax to generate additional funds for paid on call (that seems bring more people than all out volunteer)

    our company is aprox 15 guys. 6 showed for the last meeting, just enough for a quorum. The avg daytime ems call will generate 1 first responder (myself or one other guy) and usually one jr. the avg daytime fire call will generate 3-4 people, just enough to roll the pumper and tender.

    Last sunday we had a large brush fire that was paged out at 9pm. it drew 9 guys. Was the first fire call in months. 9 guys is roughly our entire responding dept.
    Steve - TC33D 4x4 FEL, dual rear remotes with toys

  5. #5
    Elite Member Mousefield's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Qualicum Beach on Vancouver Island, BC. Canada
    Sold 2008 CK35 HST

    Default Re: Rural Volunteer Fire Dept.

    We have a number of volunteer fire departments in our area. While they seem to have reasonable numbers they are always looking for more members. Getting volunteers is tough, insurance for them was a problem some time ago but has been resolved. One of my neighbors is the deputy chief of the local department and he has mentioned at times they could use a few more volunteers. Think this is a fairly universal situation for most volunteer fire departments.

  6. #6
    Platinum Member
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    north Mississippi
    NH 3040

    Default Re: Rural Volunteer Fire Dept.

    I was a volunteer for about 20 years. I served every office including chief. I don't know how it is where you live, but here it is a "thankless" job. Very rarely did I ever get a "great job". Everyone want to talk about how bad the department is. I was certified FF2, EMR, Helicopter landing site, emergency driving, weather alert, Haz mat, and much more. It cost a lot of money to be a fireman. Ruined clothes, lost time at work, Getting sick from spraying water when its 15 degrees, training time, out all night, etc... It gets very frustrating when you put everything into it and no appreciation back. I may join up again someday, but I have no free time as it is.
    NH 3040 fel 6' cutter
    JD 737 zero turn
    polaris ranger xp
    99 honda 300
    Trek Emonda SL8.

  7. #7
    Gold Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    On the Oregon coast
    JD 870


    I looked into it in the town I lived in a few years ago. The trainings were very early in the morning and I work nights so it just didn't work out. The county sheriff also uses a volunteer force for patrol after a couple years of training but their training is in the evenings so I did that instead. :-)7

  8. #8
    Veteran Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2008

    Default Re: Rural Volunteer Fire Dept.

    I was driving by and saw a barn fire with just a few volunteers so I jumped out to help man the hose that was tossing a young man around.

    He had full gear I had nothing but a T shirt. I hid behind him as much as I could because it was HOT. As we were spraying the barn down I looked over and saw a propane tank in the fire getting real hot.

    I told the "kid" - WHAT ABOUT THAT!!!!!!!. He said - OH ya, and directed all the water at the tank.

    More people showed up with gear so I begged off. As I was driving away I keep wonder how close that "kid" and I came be being blown up. Then I wondered why anyone would do that for free? Today I wonder why these hero's do it for money OR for free. I know I don't have the stones to do it.

    I'm thinking it's the economy. Sad as it may be some don't want to use the precious fuel.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Kentucky, USA

    Default Re: Rural Volunteer Fire Dept.

    I certainly understand the difficulties you face. Daytime is tough for many Fire Departments. I am Chief of a County wide Rescue Squad that includes a fire suppression division for the State Park and surrounding area. We have 35 people on the roster, and probably 1/2 of that number respond at any given time due to work and other scheduling. We train one night each week, and try to accommodate those that have legitimate scheduling conflicts by offering alternate training dates. We do have a Jr. program as well.We are funded partly by dues collected through property tax bills, and fundraisers. We answer upwards of 300 calls per year, mostly car wrecks, and EMS assist. We have 3 engines, 1 tanker,1 compressed air foam system/rescue, 1 suburban,1 bronco,1 Honda club car atv with rescue trailer, 4 boats, and a host of equipment for all types of rescues, housed in a 6000 sq foot station. We are truly blessed to have all this. It is a great big job to keep up with all the paperwork involved as well as the responsibility.Is it worth it? You bet! Is it thankless? Yes. But, even with all the critisism, there is enough satisfaction in knowing you have been able to play a part in helping save someone's life or property to keep on keeping on. As a 28 year veteran of the fire service, (retired career) I've seen a lot of up's and down's, but we try to keep our people interested with training, and non emergency department activities, and by publicly recognizing members who reach certain or specialized training levels as well as other accomplishments. May God bless those who risk their lives so others may live.

  10. #10
    Elite Member Ken45101's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    southern Ohio
    Kubota M5040, M9540, B21 TLB, B2710, RTV900, JD 325 Skid steer, KX-121-3 mini excavator

    Default Re: Rural Volunteer Fire Dept.

    IMO, one of the issues is that more and more rural people have to have jobs many miles away. No longer are the residents in town most of the time. Probably added to that are other issues such as expecting "the government" to take care of things and heavy training loads.

    I first joined a rural department in 1969 before I got married. I was active in a suburban department 1974-1982 when back injuries forced me out (that department required members to run EMS also and I couldn't do the lifting.) That department had a problem with manpower during the daytime when most of us were away at work, but the city had four employees who were also on the department and were released for fire/ems runs. That was a busy department with 1000+ ems runs and 200 fire runs per year. They went full time paid around 1990.

    I had hoped to get on a rural department when I retired, but it's about a 15 minute run to the station here (assuming I'm at the house and not off someone on the farm). Turnouts here are terrible, I've heard dispatch have to go through 3 departments to get a squad on the road.

    I don't know that going to consolidated districts and paid personnel will work since it will only increase response times, which can be up to 30 minutes in our township as it is. Also, many paid departments tend to be low on manpower, I remember one such department which each truck was only manned by a single firefighter and the chief often had to catch the hydrant.

    Many departments don't really encourage newcomers, some are "closed groups". Others have leadership issues and conflicts within the department.

    Personally, I found it very rewarding and loved it when I was on an active department. But I also think that's another issue: it's hard to attract people when _real_ fires are rare. I'm not sure I'd want to put the time and commitment into training, etc. when I might only really be needed once a year or so.


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