We all know the tremendous amount of work, time, effort, and dedication it takes to run a volunteer fire company. As time goes on the workload is only increasing and becoming more stringent for purposes of funding and personnel management. While it may seem daunting, it is important to recognize the need for help. The expectation that your operational members also carry the administrative burden should be a concept of the past. Operational members are also experiencing the increased time commitment due to increases in training standards and refresher training, increased call volume, and much more; why add another burden to them? They are in fact carrying out the true mission of your company- providing emergency services to the community.
How do departments resolve this issue? It is simple at face value. Increase your administrative support staff. Focus on targeted recruitment for individuals in your community that have backgrounds in human resources, public relations, marketing, fundraising, finances, and more! Many of these individuals want to give back to their communities and they just don't know how to get involved. Departments are often focused on recruiting individuals to become firefighters and EMS providers (rightfully so) and neglect the need for administrative support.
If an administrative support staff (or admin only membership) is foreign to your department, make sure you develope the membership category and process before you start recruiting. These individuals don't want to become firefighters, so they most likely don't need a physical or hazmat training. They also should have different requirements or minimum standards compared to operational members. While differences exist, they will definitely need an onboarding or orientation to acclimate them to life in the fire service. Expectations should be appropriately managed on both sides. When conducting your targeted recruitment campaign for administrative only personnel, it is critical you make clear that there is no expectation of them becoming a firefighter or EMS provider (unless they want to). After spending time in your department, they may want to transition over to an operational member, which is a win win. Lastly, they may have families and want to get their kids involved, once they know what the department is all about. Look at that recruitment strategy!
Imagine the boost that your department will get with having subject matter experts in all of the topics that we don't normally focus on. In addition, the division of responsibility between admin personnel and operational personnel will help reduce burnout, allowing operational members to focus on emergency response and training.
So who should you be looking for?
Human Resources backgrounds
Nonprofit leadership experience
Social media experts
Connect with your local business association or chamber of commerce in order to share your need in a target rich environment. These groups are typically well connected and have a large network of people to pull from, plus they are local to your community. You can also recruit by posting volunteer job opportunities on Facebook, VolunteerMatch, NVFC Recruitment Portal, and LinkedIn to name a few.
Get out there today and start recruiting administrative personnel. Your department will see instant gratification.