Fire Departments and VFD

Planning a Successful Installation Dinner

Installation Dinner

Firefighters at the Jamesport Fire Department installation dinner

It is the one time of year that everyone trades in bunker pants for dress pants and where everyone can reminisce about the eventful year that has passed. Installation dinners have become a yearly tradition in many volunteer fire companies, as well as an important event, as this is where new members are initiated and the new elected Officers are ‘installed’ into their new positions. This is also a time for remembrance of any fellow firefighters that have sadly perished in the line of duty that year. Installation dinners create memories and traditions that are remembered for years to come and for those responsible for planning the event it can be a daunting task. Take these things into consideration, so you can take the stressful edge off planning to make sure that this year’s Installation Dinner is one to remember.

1.    Start with a list of the basics– Make a list so that you can prioritize, and maybe omit unneeded details and ideas you originally had. Ask yourself some of the basics, starting with Who, When, Where, and What; Who will be attending? When will you have the event? Where will the event take place? And What will the nights schedule of events be?

2.    Create a realistic budget– Don’t start planning a black-tie, 7 course sit down dinner at the best restaurant in the city for 50 people, before you even know how much you have to spend. Often times, venues and caterers will ask what your budget is so that they can present options to you that will accommodate it. Discuss the budget with your department’s Treasurer, keeping in mind how much your department has from fundraising, and how much you think members will be willing to pay towards the event.

3.    Be flexible– One way to prevent unnecessary stress is to be flexible with your plans, and realize that there are many reasons something may not work out in your favor. People may not RSVP in time, venues may change their availability, or another station may need coverage on your intended dinner date for their own event. As long as you make some room for any unforeseen changes, and have a backup plan, you will be less stressed should anything come up.

4.    Contact vendors in advance– If you decide to have custom glassware to give out at the dinner or customized awards and plaques, make sure you contact your vendor well in advance. The last thing you want is to end up with 50 pieces of stemware with an outdated department logo, or an award with a misspelled name with no time left to have it corrected. Try to have these items sent to you at least 3 weeks before the event, in case something has to get sent back or replaced.

5.    Make sure everyone enjoys the night responsibly– If alcohol is going to be available at your dinner, make it clear to everyone that underage drinking and intoxicated driving will not be tolerated. Pass on the liquor, and serve only beer and wine. Also inform the serving staff if there will be underage junior members attending the event, and to be attentive to whom they serve. Remind members that it is illegal and dangerous to respond to a call if they have been consuming alcohol.

6.    Understand that you can’t please everyone– The Senior members want to do plated entrees, but the Ladies Auxiliary says a buffet would be better.  Finding a middle ground that also works within your budget will ensure that people don’t get disappointed, but you need to accept that whatever you choose to do, there will be people who disagree.

While these suggestions are a good start for planning your Installation Dinner, remember that you can always get some pointers and ideas from members of the company that have attended a few dinners in the past. Lastly, have fun and make memories that you can reminisce about at next year’s dinner!

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