Retaining experienced and qualified volunteer firefighters and emergency medical technicians is a concern throughout the volunteer fire service. Significant research has been conducted on the retention of volunteers in rural settings, but there has been limited research on retention of volunteers in suburban volunteer fire departments. In this case study of three suburban volunteer fire departments in Nebraska, 17 participants were interviewed about their reasons for joining and continuing to volunteer with their local fire departments. The participants also were asked about reasons they would consider resigning from their departments. The study found that the participants joined their departments and continued to volunteer because of a desire to serve their communities and help people and because they enjoyed the relationships on their departments. The participants considered resigning from their departments because of interpersonal conflicts within their departments and because of concerns about not meeting their departments' minimum response and training requirements. Although this study is not generalizable to all volunteer fire departments, the departments in this study can use the results to consider ways to improve retention of their volunteers. Activities which may improve retention include providing supportive and appreciative environments for the volunteers, limiting the conflict and disrespect on the departments, providing mentoring and leadership training, adapting the training and response requirement to reflect the availability of volunteers, and providing non-financial incentives to support the volunteers in their departmental activities.
|Subjects||Social research; Management; Organizational behavior|
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