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?


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 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”

“VetNet” To Help Military Veterans Re-Enter Civilian Life

As we’ve shared before, recruiting veterans into the volunteer fire service can be a great solution to our staffing challenges. They might just be the perfect candidate as we don’t have to teach them discipline, respect, honor, loyalty, chain-of-command or teamwork. In return we offer the camaraderie, adrenaline rush, teamwork and sense of value that they miss from active duty. Check out this article at our sister site and think about the “VetNet” we could create in the Volunteer Fire Service. There’s an army of volunteers out there just waiting to be asked. Recruiting a Soldier|Firefighter may be the perfect fit for your volunteer fire department. … Continue reading “VetNet” To Help Military Veterans Re-Enter Civilian Life

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?”

Engage: The Xbox Generation

As I’ve shared previously in “From the Xbox to the Box Alarm” and “Dig In!” — I’m continually conducting my own observational research of the people who are already, or soon will be our replacements in the fire service: GenY.

My personal research of what I’ve dubbed the “Xbox Generation” is supported and enhanced by more formal research conducted by folks a lot smarter than me (not that it takes a lot to qualify for that! LOL). As I often do when faced with a challenge, I look outside the fire service for resources from other disciplines to gain a fresh perspective and see how I can apply their solutions to the industry I love. For as two of my favorite authors Chip Heath and Dan Heath say, “Find a bright spot and clone it.” These resources may include books, magazines and other media outlets — especially if they mention the importance of storytelling as a means of conveying our message!

One such resource I regularly rely on to get a clue about these Millenials and their unique attitudes and attributes is a periodic eNewsletter titled “Engage: GenY” from MediaPost Publications. The short articles offer a variety of perspectives from a variety of contributors and you don’t have to read far to find titles that quickly grab your attention and correlate to our efforts to learn more about these young people infiltrating our fire service. Continue reading “Engage: The Xbox Generation”

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. 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!”

Different Views on Generational Differences

A recent e-mail blast from Fire Chief Magazine included a video interview with a training officer in a combination fire department in Texas where he shared his views on the impact of generational differences in the fire service. While I agree with most of his viewpoints, his comment that today’s generation are only focused on “the here and now” contradicts what other researchers have found. As mentioned in my article “From the Xbox to the Box Alarm,” Dr. Renee Downey-Hart  indicates that this generation is actually just the opposite, that they are very “future focused” as she describes in her research … Continue reading Different Views on Generational Differences