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Ill. fire chief improves dollars-per-points incentive program for fire, EMS personnel

Maryville Fire Chief Doug Dankenbring incentivized more responses and included time spent on calls

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Maryville Fire Department/Facebook

By Charles Bolinger
The Telegraph

MARYVILLE, Ill. — In a bid to keep as many of his volunteer, or paid on-call firefighters as possible, the Maryville fire chief, Doug Dankenbring created a new incentive program at the end of April.

“I wanted to incentivize more responses,” Dankenbring said on May 16. “Some of our paid on-calls go to calls for service; I wanted to make it better for them. After working out the logistics, he showed it to the mayor, who approved it and then took it to the full board of trustees, who also approved the notion.

“When I started, they received a certain number of points per call and those points equaled a certain dollar value as set by the board of trustees,” he said. “Regardless of time people spent on a call, they were paid the same with no rewards.”

“Currently, our paid-on-call staff are paid annually based on minimum call responses, training, meeting and work detail attendance,” Dankenbring wrote in a memo to Mayor Craig Short and the board, dated April 25. “They are awarded six points per response, regardless of the type or length of call. Payment is received if the firefighter responds to a minimum of 15% of non-EMS calls while meeting the monthly training minimum requirement of 15 hours per quarter or 60 hours annually. At the end of the year, the board of trustees agrees on a dollar amount per point and the firefighters receive payment.

“I propose to modify this program to a cumulative points-per-hour system,” he wrote, which has since been approved. Now, EMS calls receive one point per hour. Non-EMS calls receive four points per hour. Now, they get $20 per point.

“This shows more appreciation of their time, especially on calls like structure fires, that can last several hours,” Dankenbring said. In 2023 and earlier, the POCs received $20 per call.

Dankenbring said the Maryville Fire Department currently has a staff of five officers and nine on-call firefighters with three more joining the staff by mid-June.

To qualify for an award, they must respond to a minimum of 15% of non-EMS calls, per village ordinance, he said. They must also meet the minimum training requirement of 15 hours per quarter, as well as attend a minimum of two meetings per quarter, also per village ordinance. Meetings include those for the fire department, for homecoming, for officers, etc. Training and meeting attendees receive one point per hour.

“As we enter our responses into our reporting application, it calculates their points based on all criteria mentioned above. I can then transfer the information to a spreadsheet to show who is eligible and what their award would be. The award program is set up for quarterly payouts. I believe this is an incentive to achieve responses throughout the entire year.”

It is unique in that the timeframe is four months, as the village converts from a fiscal year of Dec. 1 through Nov. 30 to a fiscal year that matches the calendar year, to make tracking total calls easier. From this point forward, payouts will be quarterly (January-March, April-June, July-September and October-December).

“We are not in this to make money, we are here to help people in our community,” Dankenbring said. “They are not making less than they did, they are just being awarded four times a year instead of once a year.”

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