Recruitment and Retention are Local Problems
During February and March 0f 2021, the Fourth National Fire Research Agenda Symposium was held virtually. With key national fire service professionals and scientists engaged in the project, it was an excellent approach to gaining nation-wide insight into key areas of fire service operation and needed research. One domain dealt specifically with Hiring Recruitment and Advancement (a/k/a) Recruitment and Retention and the FASP SAFER Grant Project was able to have its program director on that domain.
When looking at the present and future of recruitment and retention, it is important to consider research that needs to be accomplished to keep pace with being able to effectively communicate with those that we reach out to as potential members or try to keep as members.
Our populations and demographics, in most communities, are changing. Are you able to communicate with a more diverse community? Does your organization look like your community (male/female, ethnic/cultural, age); and if not how will you move toward a more inclusive organization? Have you identified any barriers to recruitment? Are your messages effective? How does the community perceive the fire department? Are you still recruiting by waiting for people to come to you? If you have not addressed these issues, it may explain why your recruitment programs are not working. You MUST know your audience you are recruiting from.
When you look at your ability or lack of ability to retain members, have you identified barriers and facilitators to retention efforts, the role training and funding play in retention, as well as inclusiveness and mentorship as critical roles to keeping personnel in your organizations.
Finally, leadership (informal and formal) is critical to recruitment and retention success including motivating members, training members, and leading members for the betterment of the public’s protection.
How does this relate to you locally…..these are global issues but also local. The most important factor to keep in mind in recruiting fire and EMS personnel is that: