Workhorse Fire Apparatus

Volunteer Firefighter Recruitment and Retention

Volunteer Fire & EMS Departments comprise a workforce of more than 820,000 volunteers throughout the United States.  This makes it one of the largest volunteer corps in existence.  But trending shows that the number of volunteers is diminishing.  Why?  The economy, generational shifts and increased training requirements.  So what can today's volunteer departments do to recruit, retain and retire a new generation of firefighters?  1) Revitalize a sense of purpose:  Ensure facilities and equipment are up-to-date; 2) Be approachable and inclusive:  Many people who WOULD BE firefighters simply don't fit the "good ol' boy club" vision many have of the fire service.  Create an environment that INCLUDES people outside of the majority of 40+ white males who comprise the fire service today; 3) Be honest about the job:  Many people envision their job to be jumping into a truck and driving to a fire to put it out.  Being realistic about the training involved, the time committment and what the job actually is will help to retain people in the future; 4) Ensure volunteers receive the right incentives:  And the only way to know what that incentive might be is to ASK; 5)  Customize your training to meet the requirements, but also to meet the needs of your volunteers:  This may mean scheduling more training during poor weather seasons or setting department guidelines.  This program is currently being utilized by the South Carolina Fire Association (SCFA) and can be reviewed by visiting FIRE 20/20 - a non-profit organization dedicated to recruitment and retention in the fire service industry.  Please email them and inquire about the "Each One, Reach One" Volunteer Recruitment and Retention Program.  www.fire2020.org | lsagen@fire2020.org

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