8 ways to attract and keep volunteer firefighters

Readers weigh in on how volunteers can stem the flow of volunteers leaving the firefighting ranks


Bolstering the ranks of volunteer fire departments comes down to doing a better job of recruiting and retaining members. How to do this is a simple question. Yet it's a question that does not lend itself to a "one size fits all" answer.

And getting recruiting and retention right goes to more than just filling vacancies. It plays a key role in just how effective the department will be.

So we put the question of how to get the most out of recruiting and retaining to our readers. Here's a sample of their advice. And please, we want your advice as well; leave your remarks in the comment section below.

1."The best way to get your station to have a higher reputation and boost moral is to get more involved with the community and remind them that you still exist. I know a few stations that were having the same types of issues but once they got more involved, they gained a lot of attention. They went from 22 members to close to 50 now over the past three years." — Kris Fitton

2."Get rid of the few members that make it miserable to be there and you will keep and get a lot more people. Have fun, train and treat people with respect. That's what works." — Steve Goulet

3."Pay them." — Randy Trent

4."Go to the high schools and start a junior program. Get them interested early, train them and make them feel part of a family." — Steve Fournier

5."If a department is having problems getting and keeping members, first look at the leadership. If there are problems within the upper ranks, then it will affect the department." — Martin Shaw

6."How about we stop feeding the stereotypes? How about we be a little more selective with who we recruit. We don't need idiots with $300 cars with $1,000 worth of lights. How about we have fundraisers to support fitness? Overweight people have no business in the fire service. And how about we train to fight fires? Excellence breeds excellence. No one wants to be on a team of zeros." — Stephen Hacksaw

7."Our chief expects its members to act toward one another as family and discourages power play between full-time career firefighters and the paid on-call crew. He does not have training without being involved hands on." — Allan Ridley Sr.

8."Lots of training keeps them hooked." — Roger Poelzl

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