Let's be honest here, of the 3 solutions they cite in the article, none will really attract new volunteers.
Is "variable training standards" the new term for, depending on where you live, you don't need certain training? Is this Pennsylvania's answer to state-wide minimum training standards? ... something we don't currently have and we, as a fire service, have strongly opposed for decades. But, back to the topic, how will "variable training standards" entice people to join the fire service?
Granting a tax incentive for employers who permit employees to respond to calls while at work may have a positive affect, if those employers are within the town or township limits. For those towns that don't have a commercial tax base and the volunteers are driving 20, 30 minutes to work, it's not going to have a positive impact.
The idea of a fixing work comp costs does nothing to attract new members to the fire service nor will it re-attract older members that left the fire service. While it may lower work comp costs to the Townships, there's no guarantee the money saved will be re-invested into the fire service.
PSATs want results now! I understand the frustration but this is a problem that has lingered and loomed for decades. How inconceivable is it that you will find the silver bullet in the next few months?
It’s time for strong leadership and a willingness to tackle the tough issues head on with the staying power for a relatively long haul because this issue is not going to be resolved with a snap of the fingers. We have to be realistic and pragmatic. SR 6 is seated now and working on solutions/ideas/recommendations. PSATs is a part of this so they know how challenging these issues are.
This is a local level issue. The State can provide leadership and some framework by which to evolve the necessary changes but there is not a “volunteer tree” in the backyard to go pluck members from.
Are the Townships willing to do business differently? Are the Townships ready to ante up more funding? That goes for Boroughs as well, of course. Or is this a matter of kicking the can down the road?
It’s time that we all realize that a strong partnership between the municipalities and the departments is essential. I had someone tell me very recently that the “municipalities have no business in our business.” There’s a model for success!
We are battling many fronts right now including cultural values and social mores that are strongly affecting recruitment and retention. These are not battles that will be won overnight.
We need more than another study that gets put on a shelf to collect dust; we need serious action and the willingness to do business differently.
Township leaders, demand leadership from the state...
Ponder that for a second...
Now, time to sit down and have difficult discussions about quality leadership, standards of cover, financial responsibility, and putting trained, certified, and practiced personnel (volunteer or paid) in fire stations and on apparatus.
How much “fire department” does each community need, and ultimately willing to pay for?
It’s a long, tough road ahead.
While I absolutely agree there is another real problem with the volunteer fire service as a whole.
For Many years we have remained territorial and they wanted to be as self sufficient as possible. Instead of departments merging together and providing manageable staffing levels we have consistently remainder non willing to merge services. Fundraising is decreasing as are the personnel to work them. Finding from the state only puts a bandaid on the problem is , the workload for a few still equates to more than they have time to give. It is time to find ways to decrease the load by providing a more regionalized service that meets the needs and affords less time in fund raising. More time for training and responses.
Ok I am sure that this unpopular discussion will get knives thrown at me....... and go