Where there’s smoke…

home-content-bgWhere there’s smoke…there’s a Delaware Volunteer Firefighter! proclaims this web site dedicated to recruiting more for their ranks.

Delaware’s recruitment clearinghouse site does a great job of getting the right information in the hands of the right people by sharing scrolling sections that explain what it means to be a volunteer; and detail both the benefits and requirements of volunteering.

It lays the foundation for realistic expectations, sharing that “In any given week you will spend some time in training, attending meetings, maintaining equipment, and a variety of other duties in addition to going out on calls…an average weekly commitment can be five to eight hours.”

It also talks about how some volunteer fire departments have [smartly] diversified their workforce with administrative staff to help run the corporate side of the Fire Company, Fire Police, and Auxiliary members who support in a variety of ways – exemplifying the FireRECRUITER.com motto that “Firefighting isn’t for everyone – but volunteering can be!” 

I had the pleasure of sharing my “Xbox Live(tm)” conversation at the Delaware State Fire School last month for a group of dedicated and engaged fire service leaders who are definitely on the right path to doing something positive about their recruitment and retention ‘situation.’ Continue reading “Where there’s smoke…”


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”

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?”

DHS Announces Veterans Hiring Program

In an effort to increase the number of military placed back in the workplace after active service, the US Department of Homeland Security has announced it’s latest initiative as part of the SAFER grant program for recruitment, retention and hiring.

FireRECRUITER.com previously shared our thoughts about the opportunity to not only hire veterans into paid fire departments, but also the huge opportunity to recruit them into the volunteer fire service as a means of offering them a step-down and reintegration process that few other outlets offer. Continue reading “DHS Announces Veterans Hiring Program”

Time to get SAFER!

The application period for the US DHS SAFER grant program for the recruitment, retention and hiring of firefighters opened today: July 16, 2012.

Applications are due by August 10. “SAFER grants provide funding directly to fire departments and volunteer firefighter interest organizations in order to help them increase the number of trained, front-line firefighters in their communities,” according to this article on the National Volunteer Fire Council’s website.

The FireRECRUITER has been extremely successful in assisting fire departments and county-based fire service organizations in securing significant SAFER funding when acting as a clearinghouse on behalf of the volunteer fire service in their region. Continue reading “Time to get SAFER!”

Are You Ready to RecruitNY?

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

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?”

Video Killed the Recruitment Star

OK, maybe that’s not how the song goes, but I have to thank my good friend Bill Schumm over at FireGeezer.com for doing my FireRECRUITER work for me.

In his February 17th Morning Lineup features (and updated on February 20th), he discusses and demonstrates the effectiveness, or ineffectiveness, of using video as a recruitment tool. While his perspective on why we face the recruitment and retention challenges we do are certainly part of puzzle, the value of his commentary lies in the subliminal call to action that we need to be more creative in creating the solutions.

Certainly, a recruitment video with appropriate visuals and a good, solid message can be effective, but FireGeezer proposes that we need to do something about our culture, our society, to inspire and perpetuate volunteerism. I couldn’t agree more.

However, I feel that before we can tackle the 300 pound elephant of societal viewpoints, we should first look inward at our own culture. No longer can we afford to act as a “secret society” — shunning those who don’t necessarily fit our traditonal demographic or the model of what a firefighter “used to be.” While we must certainly strive towards those who can embrace or already share our value system, reality is that those people come in different shapes and sizes, colors and backgrounds too. Continue reading “Video Killed the Recruitment Star”

NVFC: Quantity of Volunteers is Down

According to this report released at NVFC.org, there were 44,000 fewer volunteer firefighters in 2010 compared to 2009, a reduction of 5.4 percent, according to the U.S. Fire Department Profile Through 2010, an annual report that was recently issued by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). The loss of volunteers is primarily coming in communities with populations of 2,500 or fewer, which were protected by 377,550 firefighters in 2010 compared with 408,550 in 2009, a drop of approximately 7.6 percent.

[Read the balance of the article here.]

Without reading the entire study, one could wonder whether or not those numbers are a bad thing or just a truer reflection of the real number of volunteers directly involved in firefighting, not just total number of active and inactive members of volunteer fire departments. If you read on in the NVFC article you’ll learn that while the total numbers are going down, the average age of those left behind is going up. That’s a real issue we need to address immediately and constantly. Continue reading “NVFC: Quantity of Volunteers is Down”

Can you rise to the challenge?

An article posted to FirefighterNation.com today outlines the challenges faced by volunteer fire departments in Pennsylvania in recruiting and retaining their members. Although these types of articles are becoming all too frequent, this one in particular is better than most in that it focuses on the positives of being a volunteer firefighter — not all the negatives. I’ve cited many examples of what not to say if you’re actually looking to solve your R&R challenges in a previous post titled “Is this our best approach?” Too often, we hand a prospective candidate all of the reasons and excuses why they wouldn’t join on a silver platter. Continue reading “Can you rise to the challenge?”