Firefighter Training, Firefighting, Volunteer Fire Service

Targeted Recruitment Strategy Yields a Strong, Stable Membership

Issue 8 and Volume 168.

BY LEZA RAFFEL More than two-thirds of the United States’ approximately 30,000 fire departments are staffed entirely by volunteers. However, across the nation, the number of volunteer firefighters is shrinking, down 13 percent since 1984. In Pennsylvania, a state where suburban and rural communities are mostly served by volunteer departments, the ranks shrank from about 300,000 in the 1970s to somewhere between 50,000 and 70,000 today. The Abington Township (PA) Fire Department (ATFD) is comprised of five volunteer fire companies that enjoy a stellar reputation within a grateful community. However, those appreciative residents did not always realize that the men and women fighting fires and otherwise keeping township neighborhoods safe do so without getting paid. With volunteer numbers dwindling, ATFD officials realized they had to do something to keep their numbers stable. “We decided to be proactive,” said David Schramm, fire services administrator for the department in suburban Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.…

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