Are You Recruiting Slave Labor?

Is Your Fire Department Recruiting Slave Labor?Early in 2010, archeologists in Egypt stumbled upon a series of 9 foot deep shafts that held dozens of skeletons.

These skeletons were unique though, in fact, they proved we were all wrong. We have these great stories in our minds from elementary school about the Egyptians using slave labor to get these incredible pyramids built.

But what these archeologists uncovered tells an incredibly different story. These bodies weren’t slaves. They were paid workers who died while building the pyramids.

How did they know?

It’s simple, they found jars that once contained beer and wine that were intended for their journey into the afterlife. The Egyptians also took great care to bury them properly (fetal position, head to the west and feet to the east according to Egyptian beliefs), something that would not have been done if they were slaves.

So the question is… are we recruiting slaves or paid laborers?

When we design our recruitment plans, there’s a specific type of person we’re looking for. While we love the people that come in and give their everything, they may not be exactly what we’re looking for.

What do I mean by that?

Let me give you an example. My current department is filled to the brim with fire police. Those positions are all filled and being completed at a very high level despite the razzing we may give them sometimes about all of their cones and lights. Essentially, we have our paid laborers because they’re fulfilling an essential function and doing it well (for free of course).

On the other hand, our EMS division could use more personnel. There are a lot of very active and very proficient members serving there, but they’re being run ragged. Like most agencies across the country, the call volume, training requirements and hours required keep going up year after year.

We end up in situation where we require more and more out of the same personnel. These people end up burnt out faster than your average member. While not intentional, they end up much like slave laborers. We run them ragged until they give up and then we try to replace them with a fresh EMT.

It’s a terribly inefficient system.

Would you like the truth about all of this?

Of course you would.

Running a well-designed recruitment program can have a dramatic change on your department’s ability to recruit and retain high value volunteers (the Egyptian paid laborers) and minimize the over use of other people (the slave laborers).

But running a well-designed recruitment program takes time to figure out. You have to set it up, test it out, tweak it and adjust it. It’s no different than how a business finds a winning campaign that makes them a lot of money, only we’re looking for our win to be in qualified manpower. Taking that time to create and design a powerful recruitment program can literally make the difference between running your volunteers ragged and having highly skilled and happy volunteers.

If you haven’t signed up for updates yet, you’ll want to do that. Over the next few months we’re going to be rolling out a ton of FREE resources  to help you master your recruitment campaigns. You can sign up for that list here.

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Chris Lockwood

Chris is the own of The Bravest Volunteers. He's worked as a 911 dispatcher since 2004 and been a volunteer fire fighter since 2002. During that time he served as Captain before moving to a new town.

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