By David Glenn, FASNY Recruitment and Retention Committee
On the last weekend in April each year, fire departments across New York State open their doors to the community and invite in anyone who might be interested joining their ranks.
Firefighters work hard to show all the benefits of volunteering to make this event a success. The Whitesboro Fire Department held a chicken barbecue as a way to draw in prospective members and their families. While people were enjoying a good meal and the company of friends and neighbors, they could explore all that being a member of the fire department could offer them.
Utilizing the excellent resources found on FASNY’s RecruitNY website, department members created customized posters, informational flyers, banners to advertise the event and videos to show the scope of services provided by the department.
The department had many different types of equipment and apparatus displayed along with members to explain what each was used for. The aerial truck was opened up along with two engines – each having their own functions in responding to an emergency call.
People were able to watch demonstrations of fire extinguisher training on a Bullex trainer and were even encouraged to try it themselves. There were also tours of the firehouse.
With all of the information, demonstrations and openness of our members, the Whitesboro Fire Department was able to get five applications for membership that day.
While recruitment is certainly an important aspect, we cannot forget the need to keep the members that we already have. Together, we have to develop new strategies for retention of our firehouse family.
We need to listen to what they say, reach out to help them when they need it and make them understand that the role they fill in the community is a very important one. From the moment a person shows interest in being a member of a department, and through the initial experiences that they have working, they must be shown a positive environment in which they can grow, learn and feel like they are making a difference.
FASNY is here to help departments. We are all facing the same challenges with recruitment and retention. As a group, we need to share with each other what does and does not work. We need to communicate to ensure that fire departments continue to be successful parts of communities across the state. RecruitNY Weekend, April 28-29, is a great opportunity to do so.
Please don’t hesitate to reach out to your fellow fire departments or www.recruitny.org for valuable resources to help our firefighting family grow and thrive.