There are many challenges facing the volunteer fire and EMS service, especially with recruitment and retention. Can’t seem to break the current recruitment and retention problem in your department? Take a look at
the following list and see if these practices are still common in your department.
· You require potential applicants to come in and pick up a paper application. It is 2022-- get that application online! Even if it is a PDF that they fill out and email back in – is still better than making someone come to the station and pick it up. Did you know Google offers free Google Suite for Non-Profits, which includes emails, forms, etc.? Create an application via Google Forms for free! Some of you are probably thinking, if they don’t have the initiative to come to the station to pick up a piece of paper, what kind of member will they be? No, we live in a world where you can make two clicks on Amazon and a package shows up in 24 hours. You need to make this convenient and up-to-date with modern technology. If someone has to come in to pick up an application, they are probably thinking what other archaic practices exist in this organization? Similarly, coming in for that application but you can only come pick it up on a certain day and time (ie. Monday at 6pm). Really?! What about people who work 3p-11p? What is the point in this?
· Application fees? We get it. Budgets are tough, fundraising is becoming difficult, and things are getting more expensive. However, do not fundraise off the backs of your new applicants. “But it covers the drug test and background check”. Find money in your budget to pay for these expenses.
· You do not let your new members in the building without a mentor or another member. Nothing screams come be a part of our team louder than “hey you are accepted but you can’t access the building unless John Smith is with you”.
· Your requirements for the new member are: 6 meetings in the first 4 months, 10 hours of fundraising, and 3 community events. How about they focus on learning the rigs, understanding call types, dispatch procedures, enroll in a firefighter or EMS class, take online ICS, etc. Refocus your priorities for your new members. They are your future.
· New members have to be voted in by the membership at a company meeting held on a certain date. Do you really have time to waste in bringing in a new person? It will already take upwards of 6 months to get someone the training they need to start riding the apparatus. Let us delay it even longer due to old rules. In addition, what basis does the membership have on voting someone in? That can lead to discrimination lawsuits and is a practice that should stay in the past.
· New member walks in and…..no one says a word to them other than “hey the trash needs taken out” or “ the bathrooms need to be clean”. How about a simple hello, an introduction to everyone sitting at the table, a tour of the station, etc. People want to belong to an organization where they feel welcomed. No one is saying they skip out on cleaning the firehouse or washing the rigs- but that is everyone’s responsibility.
It is 2022. We have to modernize our processes or else we fail to exist. We have to adapt to the changing society around us.
As difficult as it may be change is necessary. Check out more of our blogs!