Your Department Is Broken

Broken Piggybank We all know there’s a seemingly endless list of things to do at the firehouse, from fixing equipment, to updating SOP’s and managing people. But there is one thing above all else that needs to be done on a consistent and routine basis that most departments will do only a couple times a year if they’re lucky.

That one thing will make all the difference in whether the department continues to grow and thrive, or it dwindles down to just a few core responders who struggle to get the trucks out. If you’re already down to those few core responders than you may be able to guess what we’re talking about here.

If you’re not quite there yet, you should pay attention so you can avoid the pitfalls that these other departments are experiencing.

That one thing that I’m talking about is your recruitment.

It’s no mystery as to what makes our volunteer fire and ems organizations thrive. It’s the people. Without the people, we just have bays full of useless equipment sitting there waiting for someone to put it to use. And here’s the thing, if you don’t, then your town will find someone that can.

Your department needs to be actively recruiting and retaining the highest quality people you can possibly find. It’s not a once a year thing, not even twice a year. If you aren’t actively seeking new applicants every single day, then your department is failing.

Now I don’t mean that to say that you need to have someone standing in front of the local convenience store trying to get people to sign up every day. Instead, you need to have processes and systems in place so you can have an incredibly active recruiting campaign functioning for you on near auto-pilot.

We go through everything a department should be doing in our Total Recruitment Blueprint program, (which the incredible discount price is closing April 14th by the way). But I’ll let you in on a few secrets anyways, because I want you to be able to put them in place right away.

Recruiting isn’t rocket science, but it does require someone that’s devoted and consistent to make sure it functions. It’s the major driver of our departments, and yet most people look at it like something we can get to tomorrow. And that tomorrow somehow always ends up 6 months to a year out.

Anyways, I digress, back to those secrets.

  1. Find the right candidates – Not everyone is going to be a perfect fit for the fire service. The vast majority gets the general concept of what we do, but your marketing messages need to tell the same story so people know exactly what they’re getting into, and the ones who know they can’t do it won’t bother. I see a lot of departments take any applicant they can get their hands on, and you know what happens? They waste a lot of time and money training people that leave in 6 months or less. You don’t need to have that happen if you target the right type of people.
  2. Use the best methods to locate people – Times are changing, you have so many options, and many of them are dirt cheap to use to get the right candidates in the door. You don’t have to stick with putting a giant banner up in front of your firehouse anymore. In fact, I would rather spend that money running Facebook ads to your local area where you can capture their name and contact information easier and follow up with them, or better yet, engage their senses immediately with a video. There are a ton of options now, don’t just stick with the old school methods that you have no way of knowing if they’re working.
  3. Exploit your resources – If you have access to people that can help you recruit for your department, use them. It’s not a time to be shy, your department has a need, and if that need isn’t met, there could be serious fall out. Some examples of people you should use, the media, printing companies, local businesses, and the chamber of commerce. That’s just a starting point, so use that and tap into any and all resources you feel could help you.
  4. Have a plan – This is the biggest one that I see ruin recruitment attempts. People go into this thinking that everyone will just flock towards them because everyone wants to be a fire fighter. Not true. It’s a risky job with severe consequences and most people aren’t willing to take those risks because they aren’t as awesome as we are. Before you get elbow deep in recruitment and start spending your valuable money, make sure you have a solid plan in place that will allow you to track your results. If something doesn’t appear to be generating any results for you, you can then squash that tactic and start on your plan B.

That’s just scraping the surface on this whole recruitment thing. I could literally write a series of books about the entire subject, but we don’t have the time nor space here to do that. If your department is struggling to recruit members, start looking into some of these things and get to work. It’s not going to be the simplest task you ever put your head into, but if you take the time to develop the plan and implement it, you can figure out what works in your community, and then it becomes easy to continuously maintain that.

I’m all about creating systems that can save me time and energy, and that’s what you should be doing in your department too because your time is valuable. Total Recruitment Blueprint does exactly that for your department, it takes the guess work out, the advertising work out, the copywriting work out and allows you to focus on just one thing, implementing the proven plan. I just want to remind you that offer with all of the incredible bonuses is disappearing on April 14th, so if you haven’t checked it out yet, you should do that now. (You can check out Total Recruitment Blueprint 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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