Volunteer Fire Fighting Recruiting & Retention

Should It Become More Of A Family Affair?

When all is said and done, people become volunteer fire fighters because they get satisfaction out 
of doing something others can’t or won’t do. They become 1st responders for the self-satisfaction.

Changing personal value motivations and the demands of time are requiring fundamental changes toward more family-oriented community volunteering activities.

As recruiting ads become routine internet components, the question as to what motivates people to become volunteer firefighters must to be reexamined. The usual reason sighted by research indicates that community service ranks high followed by emotional fulfillment and then the camaraderie offered.

Today, a family’s activity is individually fragmented. Mom goes her way, Dad goes his way and the teens scatter ipads in hand. There is however, an undercurrent wanting to reconnect with the family oriented ways. Participating as a volunteer fire fighter can provide a suitable diversion one member of the family but other than peripheral activities it tends to exclude the others.

An individual may now contribute and serve their neighbors by coaching little league, volunteering 
at the kid’s school, or be on the board of the church to name but a few. All good causes and none demanding the time and commitment of being a volunteer fire fighter.

There is a way to involve more of the family as a unit while still maintaining the self-satisfying motivation traditionally experienced by 1st responder volunteers. Form a full functioning Crisis Response Unit. The more fringe participants can be involved in meaningful activities the more the family members will want to participate thus increasing the attraction of the activity and reinforcing retention of the department participants already involved. If everyone has something meaningful to contribute to the unit, the family unit and the department will thrive.
Crisis Response Teams specialize in providing emotional first aid in the first couple of hours after something bad happens. Crisis responders come in after a crisis event and help restore some sense of order to the chaos, while 1st Responders finish up medical calls or handling overhaul functions.

Crisis teams are comprised of spouses, adult children, grandparents and non-firefighting neighbors.

It’s not easy. Crisis responders deal with people experiencing the worst day of their life. Sudden death, destruction by fire, injury and trauma make up any one assignment. The functions of crisis response are compatible with that of any first responder, police, fire, EMT, emergency room nurse or clergy.

Expand the first responder family both figuratively and literally by incorporating new functionally viable services. Involve department friends and family who would not normally be inclined to participate in the direct fire and medical components historically performed by first responders. Improve recruiting and retention by involving entire families in the self-satisfying aspects experienced by all first responders.

For examples of Crisis responder activities see, Chaplains Corner. If you wish to explore the potential of starting a crisis response unit contact us at .

Pete Adams
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One comment on “Volunteer Fire Fighting Recruiting & Retention

  1. Agree that it is more than an individual’s desire to fight fires that will create and maintain today’s volunteer fire department. Meaningful participation of family, friends and the community is necessary.

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