06/04/09 99 W - + 12 - 7 Volunteer or Not Volunteer?

From a reader, here's a topic for discussion. Most of our fire departments rely heavily on volunteers. Many are also named "...Volunteer Fire Department." As departments transition to increasing numbers of paid staff, should their names continue to include the word "volunteer?" Is that word helpful with naming and branding, such as when generating public support? Does it ever become less-than-helpful as part of a name? At a higher level, what experiences can readers share about fire department marketing, period? Are there brands, words, or messages that work better than others?

This was an issue that came up in Apex when the “Apex Fire Department” was created, and went from the Apex Volunteer Fire Dept. Inc. The phrase “Continuing A Volunteer Tradition” was added to the rear of the apparatus.
Silver - 06/04/09 - 18:27

I think that it does create an ‘image’. With the VFD or ‘vol.’ logo, people have images of the ‘minute men’, leaving their homes and jobs to dash to the fire station (or fire) at a moment’s notice. Sometimes that image persists without the logo in smaller communities. I know that there are still people in some of the communities in Wake County that do not realize that fire and EMS here is heavily dependent on career staff. Whenever I work on EMS9 people still ask how to donate to the Fuquay-Varina Rescue Squad.

As to the current train of thought about people not caring what the name is on the side of the truck, as long as someone is helping them, this is true, to a point. Like the above reference to EMS9, whenever I respond to the Cary area on EMS4, I am asked much of the time (more from the older Cary residents than the new) “where are all of the Cary ambulances?” When I explain all about move-ups, call volumes, etc., the response has always been “well, then, Cary needs more ambulances”.
DJ (Email) - 06/04/09 - 18:57

Is there actually a true volunteer in Wake County? I think most get paid for duty crew or paid per call.
WC Paid on Call (Email) - 06/05/09 - 07:22

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