New Auxiliary Information
We are excited that you are interested in forming a new auxiliary. There are many auxiliaries across the state and no two are exactly alike. However, we all have one very important bond, the fire service. There are many aspects to consider when forming an auxiliary and we will discuss some of them in the information that follows. As you work towards your goal of establishing an auxiliary there will be many questions that arise, always remember the OSFA Women's Auxiliary board is here to help. If you would like someone from the Executive Board to come and speak to your members/potential members at one of your meetings we will be glad to do so. We are also available if you would like us to come for the installation of your auxiliary officers. We are just a telephone call or email away and will be happy to help however we can. The contact information for the current year's officers are always posted in the Women's Auxiliary section of the Oklahoma Firefighter newspaper that is sent out monthly to all the members of OSFA. You may also call the OSFA office and they will be able to put you in contact with one of the board members. We would again like to thank you for your interest and we all look forward to your newly formed local auxiliary becoming a part of the Oklahoma State Firelighters Association Women's Auxiliary.
One of the most frequently asked questions are "Where do we start"? So that is where we will begin. Since you are looking for this information, you obviously have at least one person who is interested in forming the auxiliary. That's the first place to start. Many assume that there has to be a large number of people willing to join before an auxiliary can be formed. This is definitely not the case. Of course there is power in numbers and then the responsibilities can be spread around which makes everyone's job easier. It is also more enjoyable when you have someone to work with on a common goal. Contact those that have expressed an interest in forming an auxiliary and set a meeting date/place/time. Once this has been done you can contact the others from your department and let them know about the meeting and that you will be forming an auxiliary. Don't get discouraged if the turnout for the meeting is not what you thought it would be. Different people have different interests and not everyone will share in your enthusiasm. Even some of the larger departments have small auxiliaries. It's not the number that matters. It's the willingness of those that are a part of the auxiliary that is important. So, your meeting date has been set and you are ready to get going. What comes next? Your first meeting is one of your most crucial meetings. In this meeting, you will be addressing your auxiliary structure, goals, objectives, funding, activities, and membership and that's just the beginning! I know it sounds a little intimidating but it's really not that bad. Hopefully we have put enough information here so that you will be able to get up and going in no time at all.
Your auxiliary will need to decide who can become voting members. The OSFA Women's Auxiliary bylaws have a section on membership that you may refer to when establishing your guidelines. Please keep in mind that you do not have to follow state bylaws within your local auxiliary. However, for your local members to be voting members of the state auxiliary, they must meet the state membership guidelines and pay state dues.
Your local auxiliary will determine the amount you will charge for local dues. This is completely up to your auxiliary membership to decide. The local membership dues are retained by the local auxiliary for whatever they deem necessary. The dues that are charged by locals vary from auxiliary to auxiliary. Some local dues are set to include state membership as well. State membership dues are currently $20.00 (twenty dollars). If state membership is included, it will be the responsibility of the local auxiliary treasurer to send in the membership dues before the annual convention. We also ask that should your local auxiliary choose to become a member of the state auxiliary, you send a current list of your officers and a contact person in with the membership dues.
Your auxiliary will need to establish an inner structure. The state auxiliary has an executive board that consists of President, Vice-President, Secretary/Treasurer, Junior Board Member, and Past President. Terms of office for the state are explained in the bylaws. Your auxiliary may choose to have whatever officers it feels are needed. If your auxiliary is very small, you may not have the membership to fill several positions. In this case you will either do away with a position or have one person fill two positions. Most local auxiliaries have a President, Vice-President, Secretary and Treasurer. Some may have a Parliamentarian and an Historian as well. Terms of office are also decided by your local auxiliary membership. Some choose to rotate through the offices while others elect annually. Again, this is up to your local auxiliary membership to decide.
Once you have established your auxiliary and decided on officers, you will need to begin thinking about bylaws. There is nothing that says you absolutely have to have bylaws. However, having a set of rules that everyone is aware of and should follow will make everything go much more smoothly in the long run. The state has a set of bylaws that you may use as a guideline when establishing your own. Please keep in mind that your local auxiliary is welcome to use the state bylaws but is not required to do so.
Unless your auxiliary is blessed with very wealthy and generous members, fundraising is something that you will need to do. How much money your auxiliary needs is dependent upon how much and what kind of activities and events you would like to participate in and if you choose to support the fire department with some of its needs. There are many ways to raise money for your local auxiliary and there is no way we can mention all of them. Here are just a few ideas used by other local auxiliaries: car washes, bean/chili suppers, carnivals, firework stands, garage sales, cookbooks, and quilt sales. The OSFA Women's Auxiliary has a silent auction at Convention every year. How often and what fundraisers you have is going to depend on your own auxiliary needs. If you would like information about your upcoming fundraisers to be published in the Oklahoma Firefighter newspaper, just send the information to the current Junior Board member and she will be happy to include it in her article each month. Just keep in mind that the deadline is the 1st of the month prior to the month it will be published.
Now that you have raised some money it’s time to figure out what to do with it before it’s all spent. It is a good idea to open a bank account in the name of the auxiliary. In the state auxiliary, the treasurer handles the money and is responsible for paying all the bills. How you decide to set yours up is again up to your individual auxiliary. Many times the question of getting a tax ID number is asked. There are also questions about tax exempt status and taxes. Different auxiliaries do it different ways, so it is best to consult with your tax professional or a financial advisor for advice on these matters.
Goals, Objectives, & Activities
When you decided your department needed an auxiliary, you probably had many ways in mind that an auxiliary could be beneficial to your department. As your auxiliary moves forward, it is a good idea to have common goals and objectives. If an auxiliary has something to work toward they seem to stay together longer. The activities don’t have to be big events every month; it can be something small every once in a while. Many are formed to have an organized way to deliver food or drinks to the firefighters when they are out for long periods of time. Some auxiliaries like to recognize new babies, ill members/firefighters, and retirees with gifts or cards. Many auxiliaries work towards purchasing equipment needed by their fire department. Whatever the goal, just be consistent and always look to the future for your auxiliary. Your activities don't always have to focus on the fire service either. Communities are a wonderful place to get involved. There are always needs and it's just one more way for your auxiliary to stay active. There is no way we can list them all but here are a few examples of what other auxiliaries participate in: parties or banquets for the firefighters and family, Easter egg hunts for both the department and/or the community, sponsoring scholarships, helping with fire prevention at the schools, community service/clean up, festivals and carnivals, needs at the station (i.e. dishes, appliances, office equipment, etc.) A few auxiliaries have paid the membership dues for their firefighters to be in the Brent Hatcher Benevolent Fund. These are just a few examples of things your auxiliary could be involved in. The most important thing to remember is to just stay involved somehow. Auxiliaries are always coming up with new and exciting events or activities and other auxiliaries would like to hear about what you have going on in your area. So, as with fundraisers, if you would like your activity or event posted in the Oklahoma Firefighter please send the information to the Junior Board Member and she will include it in her article for the month.
Setting and keeping a regular meeting schedule is very important. Even for those who only come to a meeting occasionally, if it is held on a regular basis they will be less likely to miss it. Some auxiliaries meet monthly while others meet quarterly. Some take the summer off while others may only meet 2 times a year. It is your decision on when, where, and how often you meet. In our state meetings we follow Robert's Rules of Order, revised (available at robertsrules.com). This keeps the meetings running smoothly and everyone gets to be heard in an orderly manner. Minutes are always taken at state meetings. We would also recommend this for your local auxiliary as it is a good way to keep records of what has been done in the past.
OSFA Women's Auxiliary Membership
Each auxiliary is welcome to join the OSFA Women's Auxiliary. It is not required, but encouraged. The membership dues for the local auxiliary are $20.00 (twenty dollars). Individual membership is also $20.00 (twenty dollars). Local members must meet the membership requirements stated in the bylaws to be eligible for membership in the state association. The membership dues are due by the state convention every year. The convention is usually held the first week of June. The dues are to be sent to the Secretary/Treasurer and she will then issue a membership certificate to the auxiliary and membership cards to the individuals. The OSFA Women's Auxiliary meets for three days at Convention. This is when we take care of all of our business for the year and we have a wonderful time while we are at it. Convention is held at the city of the President of the Oklahoma State Firefighters Association. While the men meet we utilize that time for our meetings.