Is reserving a name change right for the volunteer fire service?

Will changing our name from Volunteers to Reserves really help us gain equality with our paid counterparts? This chief thinks so but I’d like to hear your constructive comments. Continue reading Is reserving a name change right for the volunteer fire service?


Be a hero, save lives, join LVAC!

Great job by the Lancaster Volunteer Ambulance Corps (LVAC)  in producing this professional video demonstrating their capabilities and dedication to the community, just in time to celebrate their 60th anniversary of service to the Town of Lancaster and Village of Depew NY.

With lots of images of their hard-working team, radio traffic voice overs and realistic looking mocked up emergency scenes, the video matches their clean and professional website in doing it right in motivating citizens to get involved and volunteer with this active emergency services agency.

Check out their video and visit: Continue reading “Be a hero, save lives, join LVAC!”

Draft Choices

Josh Football02Volunteer fire departments, whether they realize it or not, compete for recruits. Sometimes with other volunteer fire departments but most often with a busy home life, other community organizations, volunteering opportunities and a wide array of social activities.

What if our recruits, like in college recruiting, were in competition with other recruits wanting to be selected by our fire departments? Would we see more or less candidates? More or less qualified? Or are they already in competition with each other?
UB Football01More importantly, what can we learn from college athletic recruiters like the NCSA who set up this registry for potential recruits? Do you use language like: “SEIZE the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity – and change your life” to describe the benefits of joining your volunteer fire department? Continue reading “Draft Choices”

My Bologna Has a First Name

Grabbing and keeping the public’s attention for the purpose of promoting a product, service or a cause has become a billion dollar business.

As fire and emergency medical services struggle to find or maintain its identity in this generation of flux, what can we learn from the advertising and marketing industry that will help us build our brand?

A recent web-surfing adventure randomly brought me back to this commercial I remember from when I was a kid:

That jingle first hit the TV screen in 1973 but all I need to hear is the start of the theme music, and I can’t help but break into song. Now that’s a lasting marketing message.

When you market your fire department for the purpose of gaining financial support, recruiting new volunteers or simply building company and community pride — do you have a theme, jingle, motto, or tagline that makes your message memorable? Is it integrated into all of your community education, relations and recruitment efforts? Continue reading “My Bologna Has a First Name”

The Jury is Out on Criminal Background Checks

What you should and can ask an applicant about their criminal history is a smokey issue. What you can legally do with the information you receive can obscur your visibility even more.

As happens pretty frequently, I had a fire chief call recently to ask for some advice on what has become a bit of an arresting matter in his volunteer fire department.

It appears that a prospective candidate for membership was being honest when they checked off the little box on their fire department application that asks whether or not they’ve been convicted of a felony or misdemeanor offense. Essentially, they were being honest about being dishonest — now that’s what I call irony.

What to do? Deny the application. Case closed. Simple as that. Right? Continue reading “The Jury is Out on Criminal Background Checks”

Where is Recruitment on your list?

I just visited a volunteer fire department’s web site based on a referral from Facebook and was disappointed, if not dismayed, to find that “Recruitment” was listed at number 11 out of 18 options on their site’s sidebar menu.

I did a double-take just to make sure I wasn’t missing anything obvious, like perhaps that the menu items were in alphabetical order and that’s why recruitment fell lower on the list. Nope. Not the case here.

Now in their defense, I don’t know too much about their fire company other than what I learned from their web site, and maybe they’re flush with members and recruitment doesn’t need to be their number 1 priority. Or, perhaps that’s simply the order in which the pages were added to the site and that’s how they fell. Intentional or not, there appears to be no rhyme or reason as to the order of the links, which is apparent in this list: Home, Apparatus, History, Archives, Events, Downloads, Guest Book, Members, Members Zone, Photos, and finally: Recruitment. Continue reading “Where is Recruitment on your list?”

Burning Question: Is a Co-Op Campaign Right for You?

Has your fire department ever considered conducting a co-op advertising and marketing program for recruiting new volunteers, promoting fire and life safety or just generally good public relations?

Maybe you should. Think of the benefits of partnering with a local business, corporation or even another community group or non-profit organization. Cost sharing is the most obvious outcome but there are several underlying themes that could benefit both parties in the partnership.

A recent article in Fast Company Magazine got me thinking once again about what the fire service can learn from other industries and disciplines — both good and bad.

While the article titled “3 Ways to Win in a Brutal Economy” focused on retail businesses, it certainly offered great suggestions that we can apply to our service-driven business. Continue reading “Burning Question: Is a Co-Op Campaign Right for You?”

NVFC Launches new Junior Firefighter Recruitment Video

The National Volunteer Fire Council has launched a new recruitment video aimed at attracting young people to the volunteer fire service. Funded by a grant from Tyco, the video shares testimonials from several existing junior firefighters, leveraging the power of referral from these young adults. The NVFC page that introduces the new resource also includes insight for marketing your local junior firefighter program: Continue reading NVFC Launches new Junior Firefighter Recruitment Video

Bond of Brothers

I recently had the privilege of writing a feature article for Fire-Rescue Magazine outlining the importance of “Making the Citizen-Soldier-Firefighter Connection.”

What started out as a vision for a successful joint recruitment project has morphed into a passion to connect firefighters and soldiers of all stripes.

Based on the concept that we’re looking for the same people — and we are the same people, I created a joint recruitment project between our county’s volunteer fire service and the NY National Guard.

Continue reading “Bond of Brothers”

Are You Ready to RecruitNY?

SHARED COURTESY OF FASNY and Nell Killoran, Senior Editor, The Volunteer Firefighter [ and] Images created or modified by

Erie County is supporting their 94 volunteer fire departments in their VolunteerNY efforts by offering free design and marketing assistance

Recruiting and retaining manpower is one of the greatest challenges, if not the greatest challenge, we face in the volunteer fire service.

To help address this issue, FASNY created and launched the Recruit NY campaign last April in 2011. Hopefully this rings a bell for you and your department was able to draw in some great new recruits from the event. If your department did not participate last year, this is your year to get involved.

As you may or may not remember, the campaign’s objective was primarily to implement a statewide recruitment initiative during National Volunteer Week in April 2011. This new approach saw FASNY, the New York State Association of Fire Chiefs, Association of Fire Districts of New York State, Volunteer Fire Police Association of the State of New York and County Fire Coordinators Association of the State of New York all join forces to assist fire departments in expanding their recruitment efforts. This was a first-of-its-kind type of effort and a very successful one, at that. Continue reading “Are You Ready to RecruitNY?”