New Guide Focuses on Retention and Recruitment of Firefighters

The U.S. Fire Administration (USFA), in partnership with the National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC), has released an in-depth guide on two of the biggest challenges facing the volunteer fire and emergency services – retention and recruitment.

“Retention and Recruitment for the Volunteer Emergency Services: Challenges and Solutions (Second Edition)” addresses the primary challenges departments face regarding retention and recruitment. In addition, the guide outlines proven solutions to overcome these challenges to retention and recruitment of volunteer first responders. This valuable resource is designed for all volunteer and combination departments who are experiencing retention and recruitment challenges.
“Volunteer firefighters comprise two-thirds of the estimated 1.2 million firefighters in this country,” said Acting Assistant Administrator Charlie Dickinson. “Maintaining these front-line responders through retention and recruitment is paramount to America's safety and security. Communities across the nation continue to find creative ways to support and maintain these critical community first responders.

Among the challenges identified and addressed in the new guide are time demands, training requirements, increasing call volume, changes in the “nature of the business,” changes in sociological conditions, leadership challenges, federal legislation, internal conflict, higher cost of housing, aging communities and the effects of the decline in volunteers. The text contains a thorough look at each of these issues and provides examples of solutions that have worked in volunteer organizations across the nation. An appendix contains further information such as study results, statistics, sample documents, references and additional resources.

“Retention and recruitment remains a challenge for our volunteer fire and emergency medical services,” said Philip C. Stittleburg, chairman of the NVFC. “Statistics show that the number of volunteer firefighters has declined as much as 10 percent over the last 20 years, yet our nation relies on the volunteer fire and emergency services now more than ever. It is our hope that this guide helps departments overcome the hurdles they face in recruiting and retaining volunteers.”

The USFA and NVFC originally teamed up in 1998 to release the first edition of the guide. A hard copy of this publication will be available through the USFA Publications Center in September 2007. The guide can be downloaded as a PDF by visiting and clicking on the link at the bottom of the page.

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