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If men are from Mars and women are from Venus, then this technology intrenched generation of youth is from the center of Pluto! Old-school thinking and marketing will be the death knell of today's fire service, especially in the volunteer sector with we don't learn to be creative in our recruiting methods.


How is your department coping with these challenges? Doing anything creative? If so, let's share - we could ALL use ideas!




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Comment by Joel Fournie on August 16, 2011 at 4:12pm

Great job Paul (as always) and some very great comments as well. I would have to agree with Jerry when he said that it comes down to greater community awareness and involvement. I work with an organization called Firefighters1st where we have been helping Volunteer Fire Departments design and integrate community awareness and fundraising campaigns throughout their communities since 2005. In partnership with departments across North America, we have successfully raised over $3-Million in support of the volunteer fire service and have donated an additional $500,000 back in equipment and training. We have been pushing the same message that Paul is going for in this post for years, and it definitely works!! We as volunteer fire departments need to be better at getting back into our communities and interacting with our neighbours. If we do a better job at educating the public, they will do a beter job at supporting us. It starts with presenting your fire department's brand professionally (which many are unfortunately not doing very well) and continues with a well-developed strategy! Firefighters1st can help your department with that. Good luck to everyone :-) 

Comment by Jerry Wells on July 17, 2011 at 10:06am
Great thoughts by these people.  Our society is allowing and even promoting a selfish or stingy attitude.  We don't teach "community" very much anymore.  This is the root of the fire service.....has been since inception.  Get back to the basics.  Study the sociology of the family(a fire company is a family), greater community awareness and involvement.  We need to act like we like each other and get out in the population we serve, even invite them into our house.  (I know that has a bad taste for some)  I have a good friend who is a Chief at a volunteer department who did buy a PS3 for the station to help to keep his stations manned.  Always a "work before play philosophy though.  Whatever it takes.  Get out, get along, and get involved.
Comment by Paul Combs on July 7, 2011 at 2:46pm
Thanks, Richard: I really like some of Joe's thoughts, too - but most certainly creativity will have to be the answer. Needless to say, placing an ad within the Help Wanted section of your local paper is not going to grab the attention of the younger gen - fresh ideas need to be explored if the volunteer service is to continue.
Comment by Richard Mistkowski on July 6, 2011 at 8:57pm

So what's the answer?  In the "old days" people worked locally and participated in their communities.  Today, everyone is so "maxed out" and overscheduled that they can't think straight.  The training and commitment is tough for most people. Especially if you're in the middle of having a family.  It's ok for the younger guys, but they seem to be few and far between.  We're stuck right where we are with less and less people responding. 


Joe has some good ideas, especially in regards to strong leadership and vision.  But what do you do if your company lacks the vision and leadership?  It might not have a huge impact right now, but in the next 5 to 10 years, it most definately will

Comment by Joe Marini on June 28, 2011 at 1:46pm
My current department is very involved in the community participating in every event that we can to get our faces out and free publicity. Everything from kids birthday parties, a very successful annual open house. Our rolls allow for 100 active members and we currently have 6-10 spots open. Our incoming members are attracted by our facilities that include a full fitness room, entertainment room with a PS3. If the younger (my) generation is going to sit around and play video games why not have them join and play at the station. The services we provide allow for variety of interests Firefighting, EMS, Technical Rescue, Dive Team and Fire Prevention. I feel that strong leadership and a company vision/plan attracts new members vs an appearance of a "play it by ear" leadership style. My past Rural department carried a strong close knit sense of family with 3rd and 4th generation members and it was the atmosphere and the rural sense of helping your neighbor that attracted our newer members.

My rushed thoughts and opinions.
Comment by Dan Rice on June 26, 2011 at 10:10am

That’s Right Art!

                That seems to work for us every time also!!...........wait, no, that’s just how we do it. Yeah I’m not totally sure what is happening with recruitment right now other than nothing.  Word of mouth is our big go to recruitment strategy around here. I think somehow we aren’t ashamed that we are losing members but we would be ashamed of putting up a poster that says we need them. I dunno, but if anyone solves this country wide conspiracy to lose members then please, let me know!!



Comment by Art "Chief Reason" Goodrich on June 26, 2011 at 9:24am

Our department has been slammed with resignations lately. We were at 26 and are now down to 19 firefighters.

I think we are using the Hope and Change recruitment program...Hope that someone is interested in getting on the fire department because we don't seem to want to Change the way we go after new recruits. Put an ad in the paper and hope...

Around here, not that many are that involved in the social media and the ones that are are too busy working their Farmville or engaged in other such games.

I just told our chief that we need to get busy and fill the open positions for a myriad of reasons.

We'll see.

And given that we think we understand what today's younger generation knows and wants, will their cynicism constrain them?

Another great artistic effort, Paul.

Comment by Mike France on June 24, 2011 at 4:05pm
Now that is reality

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