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How Do I Get More Volunteer Firefighters?

David Greene

Saturday, June 15, 2024 
10:00 AM – 11:15 AM

The numbers of volunteer firefighters in the United States have declined significantly in the last two decades.  Today, only 8% of fire departments nationwide do not utilize volunteers.  For the other 92% of us, in wholly volunteer and combination departments, volunteer firefighter recruitment and retention are paramount.  While it is easy to blame the various external factors for the decline in volunteer memberships, there are several factors that we can control and improve.  Understanding these factors is critical if we hope to turn the current decline around.  This presentation is based on the recently published dissertation titled, “Assessing Member Satisfaction within the Volunteer Fire Service in South Carolina.”  The data is derived from South Carolina Volunteer Firefighters, which helps attendees understand what is important to them when they join and after they have served for some time.  This presentation will discuss empirical data that illustrates volunteer firefighters’ motives to join, expectations to continue serving, satisfaction levels during service, and how a myriad of factors affect eventual service length.  Recommendations will be discussed, based on the empirical evidence, to improve the recruitment and retention of volunteer firefighters.

David Greene

Dr. David A. Greene has over 30 years of experience in the fire service and is currently the Deputy Chief with Colleton County (SC) Fire-Rescue. He holds a PhD in Fire and Emergency Management Administration from Oklahoma State University, a Master of Business Administration Degree from the University of South Carolina, a Bachelor of Science Degree from the College of Charleston, and an associate degree in Fire Science from Pikes Peak Community College.  Greene serves on the editorial board and is a regular contributor to Carolina Fire-Rescue and EMS Journal.  He is a certified Executive Fire Officer through the National Fire Academy, holds the Chief Fire Officer Designation from the Center for Public Safety Excellence, holds Member Grade in the Institution of Fire Engineers, and is an Advanced Hazardous Materials Life Support provider/instructor through the Arizona Emergency Medicine Research Center at the University of Arizona College of Medicine. He is also a Nationally Registered Paramedic, a Class 3 Law Enforcement Officer, SWAT medic, is certified through Fire Officer IV, and a certified Fire and Explosion Investigator through the National Association of Fire Investigators.