Sunday, April 19, 2009

So, You Don't Have the Time?

I am posting this blog in response to this article:

Many of you know that I draw from my experiences and training as a member of a volunteer fire department. That is especially true when dealing with the problems and the issues that face the small, rural volunteer organizations that are indicative of the majority of our nation’s fire departments.

Not long ago, we discovered in our department that there seemed to be a core group of officers and veterans that gave a disproportionately larger number of hours-i.e. effort to the department than the others. I felt that it was important to send a strong message to the others in order to strengthen their commitment.

So, what I did was; at a monthly meeting, I pulled out all of the officers and anyone with more than ten years on the department and asked them to leave the room. That left thirteen in the room. What I asked them next was; if this was your core group, who would be your officers? I had them “elect” a chief, assistant chief, captains and lieutenants. It produced some very interesting results. Ironically, the “chief” that they elected is now a lieutenant with the department. It would not surprise me to see him as chief somewhere down the road.

We had their attention on the issue of not relying on the fact that the veterans and officers as they knew them would always be around. They had to start preparing NOW for the future of the fire department. Then, I had to tackle the issue of the “perceived” constraints on everyone’s time. It is not a problem that is ours alone, but is one that is shared throughout the nation. It can destroy departments and here’s why:

For the past several years, volunteer fire departments have been hit with an almost apathetic attitude in their communities when it comes to recruiting and retaining new firefighters.

I don’t have the time has become the mantra of young, able-bodied men and women who, when approached by their fire department will tell them in short order that they don’t have the time. If they do join the department, they will only give you what time they feel is left over from their very hectic schedule and life style. I believe that selfish has replaced selfless in today’s society.

Additionally, who told these people to stuff their lives beyond over-flowing with activities that may boost their self-esteem, but doesn’t really add to their quality of life or the quality of their community. They don’t CARE, because they were never TAUGHT to care.

Not long ago, my fire department had a few members who were well below the average for training hours, stating that they didn’t have the time. I decided to take a pragmatic look at it, for I have always held that if it is important to you, you will MAKE time. I also wanted to make certain that I wasn’t being overly critical of our younger members.

Here is the link to my complete article:
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