Fire science recruitment and retention of the volunteer fire dept

Essay by mmelis516University, Bachelor'sA+, April 2004

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"Volunteer Fire Department Recruitment and Retention"

May 15, 2003

John Jay College of Criminal Justice

Volunteer Fire Department 2


The recruitment and retention problems in the volunteer fire department are

becoming more evident in today's society. There are many challenges facing these

issues. The physical demands and time demands associated with training, running

emergency calls, maintaining station equipment, fundraising, and operating a non-profit

organization are intense. Today, more than in past years it requires strong leadership and

coordination to make the fire service a place where people want to give their time.

(Bush, Schaenman, & Thiel, 1998)

History of the Volunteer Fire Service in America

The history of the United States volunteer fire service began in 1648 in New

Amsterdam, founded by Peter Stuyvesant. Recognizing the need to secure the city from

fire he appointed four fire wardens whose efforts in fire prevention and extinction

included chimney laws, bucket brigades, simple ladders, and hand-pumped engines, all

controlled by a loose organized group of volunteers.

Hose companies supplied the water

to the engines and applied it to the fires. Hook and ladder companies were responsible

for rescue, ventilation, and overhaul. Closely related to how it is today. By the mid-

nineteenth century the volunteer fire departments were for the most part well organized,

but at the same time extremely large, rowdy, and unwilling to adopt the new technology

of the steam engine. The resistance to this change, publicized fights, pressure from the

insurance companies and influential citizens along with politics, ethnic tension, greater

fire risks, increasing population, and a decline in the quality of membership led to the

eventual end of volunteer fire departments in large cities. Thus, a change occurred from

Volunteer Fire Department 3

volunteer to career firefighters. (

Currently in the United States, both volunteer and career...