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Strategic Planning for Volunteer Fire Departments and the Mission Statement

A Mission Statement is the foundation of an organization. It is a formal summary of the organization’s goals and values. It is something that should resonate with all members, employees, and external stakeholders (community members, community groups, local government). A very basic Mission Statement could be as simple as this example: “Company X will work tirelessly to provide emergency response to the citizens of our community with professionally trained personnel”.

How do we meet the goals set forth in our mission statement? That is the job of a strategic plan. Begin with listing your short and long-term objectives. These should be realistic, tied directly to the mission statement and must be able to be measured. A few examples may include updating apparatus over a five-year period, increasing volunteer staffing, or increasing funding. All these items may be necessary to deliver on your ‘Mission”.

Next, perform a strength and weakness analysis. We have good apparatus but lack personnel, we have the personnel but lack funding for apparatus. Next, add your opportunities and threats to the matrix. An opportunity could be a community that offers strong support. A threat could be a local politician who does not support you.

Our next step is to list all of the Objectives, Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. Move all of your top-priority objectives to the top of the list. Go through each objective and analyze it against your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. Develop a plan for obtaining each objective with all considerations taken into account. The results are your strategic plan.

Implementation is the next step. Once you have a plan built, get it out to all of the stakeholders you identified early on when building your mission statement. Have them review your plan for comments and recommendations.

As you implement your plan, continually monitor results. This may be how your fundraising is doing or how many new members you have recruited. Most importantly, don’t be afraid to tweak your plan. It should be a living breathing document that is flexible based on the performances you are measuring.

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