The Only 3 Members In Your Department

There’s a little secret tha3Memberst nobody will tell you about organizations and their members. It’s true for just about any organization you’ve ever been a part of, whether it’s your day job, the firehouse, or boy scouts. It doesn’t matter.

It’s almost like a universal law that somehow naturally permeates it’s way into every single organization. You’ll understand entirely what I’m talking about when I get into each type shortly, and I bet you’ll immediately be able to pick out people that fit into each group.

·        Lurkers – These people show up every so often. They always seem to make the best calls, but are the least active.

·        Responders – These are the members that are active, they do the average amount of work, make it to drills and are willing to step up when someone asks them directly.

·        Lifers– They live and breath fire department. They spend more time hanging out at the firehouse than they do at their job and home combined. They go way above and beyond in just about everything they do.

I know these three groups exist because I’ve seen them over and over again in departments I’ve been a part of, and because, well…. I’ve been in each of these categories in the past 12 years.

So Lurkers, they suck right?

Whoa, hold on a second.

I know they seem almost entirely useless, but they do have a valuable place in every organization. You see, many lurkers are just waiting for the right opportunity to get into things.

I’ve seen a lot of good members sit in this category for years after having to step back due for a little while due to outside circumstances. When they came back, they never really got back into the groove of things.

What’s great about them is that they are still there. And while they aren’t crazy active right now, with the proper guidance and discipline, they can be brought back into the mix of things pretty quickly.

The big problem I see is that these people are almost always forgotten about until someone bitches about there not being enough responders. Then, all of a sudden, they jump on these people like they’ve been stealing money from the department hand over fist by not being around. Rather than taking that approach, how about you stop to think “how could we get Jimbob responding again?”

 It could be as simple as placing a phone call to him and seeing how he’s doing, and bam, he’s active again. The real key to not having a company full of Lurkers is to ensure they don’t stay in that position too long. If they ride it out for years, it becomes the natural way they associate with the group, and that’s a hard cycle to break.

Our Responders make up the bulk of our departments.

These people show up regularly, make the required training and come out when they can. I think this category pretty much sums itself up, just remember that this is where the bulk of your members will probably fit in.

And the Lifers, well, they’re a unique bunch. I used to be one when I was younger and didn’t have so much on my plate. (Amazing how full time work, 2 kids and 2 dogs can fill up your schedule.) These people eat, sleep and breath the fire department.

These members are what really drive organizations to be proactive, to grow and become better places to be a part of. When your whole life is revolved around something, you’ll work twice as hard as anyone else to see it succeed. Without the Lifers, you’d have a hard time keeping your agency moving forward.

Now here’s the weird thing.

Like I said before, I’ve been a part of all three of these categories throughout my time as a volunteer fire fighter. In fact, I’d be willing to bet that most of your members have done the same thing, or will go through these phases over the next few years.

Life happens; people gain and lose time and resources that allow them to be active in your organization. But just because someone has been in the lurker field for a while doesn’t mean they can’t move up into Responders and eventually into being a Lifer. What you have to understand though is that that shift isn’t likely to occur on it’s own.

Your Lifers will have to help pull others back up into the next level. It’s a constant battle, and it’s not going to get any easier as people are working more jobs, have more family commitments and less time to volunteer their time.

Next week I’ll get into more depth about how to move people from one category to the next, until then, have some fun picking out your friends at work or the firehouse and seeing where they fit into each of these catagories!

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Chris Lockwood

Chris is the own of The Bravest Volunteers. He's worked as a 911 dispatcher since 2004 and been a volunteer fire fighter since 2002. During that time he served as Captain before moving to a new town.

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Chris Lockwood

Chris is the own of The Bravest Volunteers. He's worked as a 911 dispatcher since 2004 and been a volunteer fire fighter since 2002. During that time he served as Captain before moving to a new town.