The Volunteer Fire and EMS Service
Every April, the United States celebrates National Volunteer Appreciation Week. This year it is celebrated during the week of 4/18-4/24. It is important that leaders in the volunteer fire service recognize the dedicated work of their membership all year long, but this week serves as a time to set aside the daily nuances of running a volunteer fire company and spend that time with your membership. Often, leaders get inundated with issues that take away the ability to focus on their membership. Hit the pause button on reports, paperwork, etc.- just for this week :).
After the way our service has been turned upside down over the last 14+ months, it is extremely important to recognize the work of your volunteers. It is vital to understand that burnout is probably at an all-time high due to the pandemic. A simple gesture of showing that you are thankful and appreciative of your membership will go a long way. Listed below are some easy and inexpensive ideas:
Highlight members each day of the week on social media via a "membership spotlight".
Type a thank you letter and mail it to each member's house. It is important to hand address the letter, hand sign the letter, and add a personal brief note. This creates a more personable experience. It shows you took the time to send the letters out.
Provide food for crews staffing the equipment during the week.
Give away company clothing/gear by a random drawing.
Work with local businesses to provide gift cards or small tokens of appreciation via an internal raffle.
Have a small ice-cream social or cookout at the station.
Host team-building activities.
Host a virtual appreciation event.
Reach out to local elected officials to see if they will record a short thank you video to share with your personnel.
Host a "Coffee with the Leadership" event in order to hear feedback from your membership on ways to improve the organization.
Be sure to include your entire membership (operational, support, associate, administrative, and new members). It is important to understand that everyone in our departments contributes to the collective good.