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Aging Members of Fire Departments serving communities 2500 and under

I have just looked over the new report from NFPA, what a shocker. It appears the folks at NFPA now see a trend, while many fire departments in smaller communities have been seeing this for over the past decade. Does it mean the older members can't do the job, NO. However, many of these departments are having trouble recruiting the younger citizens. There are many factors that have caused this, some are: Many of the younger citizens don't have a sence of community as in the past, many younger citizens have to travel out of their community to work, many times these jobs require a commute of thirty minutes or more, and that is if they are lucky enough to have a job in this day in age, the training requirements placed on all professional firefighters both career and volunteer take a toll on family life, so many prospects find that they would prefer to spend this time with family, and who can blame them, as time is to short. How can we change this trend? Many folks out there have written books and manuels on this subject, but this is not a one size fits all subject. Some fire departments have merged with other's to form districts to gain lost manpower and aging crews, where daytime response is critical with less manpower. Now you will see a trend of longer response times, less personnel on the scene of an emergency (EXTREME SAFETY ISSUE) in larger cities, due to the loss of taxpayer revenue and overbudgets. Where do we go from here, Large City or Small Community, we better get use to the fact that we will have to do more with less, and weigh the risk and benefits each call poses.

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the trend i have saw as a Chief officer is that it varies , retention has been steady with us to date, other than dropping those who don't meet our set standard we have recruited 10 new members this year , dropping 4 at the beginning of the year , 4 have completed FF1 and 6 have come to us with prior service . yes members are getting older , but they have what it takes , they take yearly phyiscals and get thier Classification , some fill roles that most do want. Our responce time has varied depending on manpower , and time of day.
First of all: AGE is a number. I have seen a 30 something completely out of breath from putting on an SCBA and the guy in his mid-50s effortlessly completing his tasks.
Firefighting is physically demanding. It can just as easily take its toll on a newbie as it can the octogenarian.
Who can blame them for wanting to spend their time with their family instead of the fire department?
As long as we believe that someone's family life takes precedence over public service, your membership roster is going to look like Swiss cheese.
Do you realize how much time a person WASTES in a year?
What I think you meant to say is that family is important. No doubt about it. But so is public service on your fire department.
Just like the family unit; you have to make it appealing to the prospect to want to be there.
The worst thing fire departments can do is accept the notion that they will struggle getting recruits and keeping them.
I guess we have read so many articles on the state of recruitment and retention in the volunteer fire service that we are believing it.
Not me.
We are getting new people, training them, mentoring them, giving them a strong base, deepening their commitment, enlisting the support of their family, reinforcing the importance of serving the community and making sure that we are an organization that people want to belong to.

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