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How to get local volunteers?

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  • #31
    How much money do you have available to commit to incentives?

    The fact is people will volunteer if they feel that they feel they are appreciated, and that they are being recognized and rewarded, which does not always have to be stuff.

    Simple rewards can be additional t-shirts, coffee cups, reserved parking spaces for non-emergency events. Some people just like seeing thier name on a board for 100% drill attendance for the month or a responding to a specific percentage of call.

    If they money is there, maybe a simple point system where they receive a points for drills and run response.

    As far as recruiting, it's nothing but marketing.

    Identify the types of people you want on your fire department, identify where they are in your community, develop specific recruiting messages for each group and then deliver them.

    So, think about the types of members you want to be interior firefighters. Locate them in your community, which may be gyms, local basketball or other athletic programs and workplaces that require persons with a higher level of fitness. Develop a message such as "Fire. Smoke. Heat. Interested?
    Then deliver that message through posters, handouts or manned informational booths to where those people are.

    Another example. Firefighting is about teamwork, so target current or ex-military or team athletes with a slogan like "Teamwork. Pride. Commitment.(Fire Department name)."

    Target folks with special fireground skills such as truck drivers, rock climbers, swimmers and divers if you have water rescue or tech rescue programs.

    Target seniors for administrative and station duties to free up firefighters.

    Use yard signs at busy intersections and in front of members homes. Posters in busy retail establishments and restaurants. Simple handouts. Articles in the local paper. A banner in front of the stations. A fire truck with handouts at the local grocery store during the day a couple of times a week. Local access TV if you have it either via pop-up messages or maybe an interview if 3 or 4 members including a male, female, limited duty and possibly older member talking about why they joined and what they do.

    Be creative and use the media you have in your community.

    By the way, the US Fire Administration has a couple of free publications regarding recruiting. Simply go to the USFA website under publications.
    Train to fight the fires you fight.

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    • #32
      We have pretty much the same system a Leeland. our career staff mainly as EMS but are used in fire suppression when we are short staffed. I don't rightly agree with it, but Ii have no control on that issue.
      Getting people to join can be a hassle. As stated before no one is willing to do anything for free.
      We do have resident requirements, something else I don't agree with. Take what you can get & what people are willing to give you.
      Good luck with your efforts!
      "Courage is the resistance to fear, the mastery of fear, not the lack of fear." Mark Twain
      "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough." Uknown

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      • #33
        We use signage throughout the community, posts in our municipalities newsletter and started a junior program in an attempt to recruit. We offer just about every incentive possible without being considered a paid department, which has worked well on retaining current members, but unsuccessful recruiting any decent new candidates. Our call volume consists of about 250 fire related incidents per year, which you would think is enough to get them interested and not overwhelm. We currently have an active roster of 30 certified and well trained firefighters, which is much better than the neighboring communities who average around 8 active members. However within the next 5 years, the numbers will drop for us and our neighbors because of an age factor. The neighboring fire departments have no interest in a merger or consolidation. So, if there is not some kind of volunteer firefighter recruitment god for our area, we will see a drastic change in the volunteer fire service within those next 5 years.
        This change will be very costly to the taxpayers, if you know what I mean

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        • #34
          Here are some basic facts about recruiting:

          1. Recruiting should be a continuous program. In other words, just because you think you have enough members, the recruiting program continues. There certainly can be 2-3 periods a year where there are targeting high energy "recruiting drives", but there should always be a subtle, low key message out there in the community regarding fire department membership. In addition, there are always planning and preparation needs for the next "drive period".

          2. Recruiting is hard work. Many departments expect to be able to effectively recruit with a minimum of effort. Sorry, but it simply does not work that way. Each body brought in will cost a significant amount of effort.

          3. Recruiting requires a significant time commitment. The fact is most departments expect far more than they can given the time that they put into recruiting.

          4. Recruiting requires planning. Recruiting is nothing more than marketing, which takes planning. To effectively recruit, your department needs to do the following, which requires planning time:

          Identify why people want to join your fire department.
          Identify the message it will take to attract those people.
          Identify where those people are in your community.
          Decide how to get the message to those people in your community.
          Decide the process you will use to interview and evaluate applicants.

          5. Recruiting requires a dedicated team. There should be a committee whose members primary focus is recruiting as it (see above) takes time for planning and it is hard work. This can include non-firefighting administrative members with a history in marketing, recruiting or human resources brought in by the department for this sole purpose. it can also include special or auxiliary members and should include a member from all the groups you want to attract - juniors, seniors, etc.

          6. Recruiting effectively requires a plan for those brought in. Recruiting requires that you have way to quickly process applications and begin the training and membership process. If new members feel like they are just left hanging once they have been recruited, they will leave. There needs to be a systematic process whereby they are rapidly integrated into the team.


          Let me go into #4 a little more.

          There are many reasons why people join volunteer departments, and much of that is driven by Maslov's Hierarchy of Needs.

          There are folks that join the fire department for social reasons. While some here may poo-poo that as a valid reason for membership, it is a very important part of the recruiting mix. We can market the fire service as a brotherhood, which it is. That can be used as a tool to draw in ex-military or athletes who are used to working in teams. We can also use the social angle to attract seniors, as an example, who may be able to assist with department administration, recruiting or public education. Market department social events. market the time spent around the station talking. Market through photos, the social aspects of training and fires calls. Use the social aspect to it's fullest potential when marketing your department.

          Maslov's HoN also discusses the need for security. Utilize that as tool for bringing in members who may be attracted by the fact that they are providing fire and/or EMS protection for the community.

          Some members may be attracted by the physical challenges, which relates to Maslov's need for self actualization. Highlight the training challenges that firefighting provides. Highlight the physical effort needed to fight fires. use this on ex-athletes, athletes and current or ex-military. This is especially important if your department has specialized teams such as technical rescue, ice, trench, dive, etc. This can be a great attraction again, to ex or current athletes or military that function or have functioned within elite teams.

          Develop each of these messages for the groups you want to attract including specific slogans and if using brochures, photo sets highlighting each target audience. Example would be a poster targeted specifically at athletes or military at the local gym, the local gun shop or maybe the indoor batting cages. Messages designed foe seniors could be the local senior center and shopping areas.

          Take these messages and put them up in areas where each of these groups will be found as well as in the general population. Mix them in the general community so that each target group is likely to see them during the course of a few days around town.

          The trick is developing specific messages for each target group, and then exposing those groups to those messages.
          Train to fight the fires you fight.

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