John Rose Oak Bluffs: Two Challenges Fire Departments Face

Running a volunteer fire department is not always exhilarating and action-packed. Those in charge must abide by ever-changing regulatory standards involving both operational processes and the department’s business. Keeping up with local challenges, rising equipment costs, and member and community needs can stifle a volunteer fire department’s growth potential.
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With that in mind, John Rose Oak Bluffs takes a closer look at two of the biggest obstacles facing today’s volunteer fire organizations.

Dismal Recruiting and Retention Rates

Recruiting and keeping members is, without a doubt, the most pressing problem, notes John Rose Oak Bluffs. The number of volunteers who are actively being recruited into the fire service is a lot smaller than the number leaving or aging out.

One cause could be a societal shift in work and life priorities. Because of the safety aspects associated with firefighting, membership requirements can be challenging. Besides drills, training sessions, fundraisers, and meetings, members must also respond to actual emergencies, adds John Rose Oak Bluffs. Furthermore, firefighting is a dangerous profession. Some are hesitant to take the chance that an injury or death will prevent them from supporting or caring for their loved ones.

Member retention is another challenge. Although there are numerous reasons members choose to resign, these occurrences are often preventable. Despite the industry resources available, many volunteer fire departments use retention strategies that revolve around reactionary solutions rather than preemptive ones. In truth, if department leaders wish to keep both current and prospective firefighters, they must be willing to apply the principles of strategic foresight and situational awareness to the internal issues inside their organizations.

Dwindling Budgets and Funding Opportunities

Operating a volunteer fire department is costly, notes John Rose Oak Bluffs. Like many industries, every year, the cost of doing business goes up while operating budgets tend to fall or hover at the previous year’s costs. For this reason, balancing economic and industry changes without compromising effectiveness or safety can be next to impossible.

Similarly, because of municipal constraints and poor organizational structures, volunteer fire departments can be at a disadvantage when attempting to secure administrative support programs and mission-critical equipment necessary to stay effective and efficient. For instance, even though innovative fire station alerting technology can lead to better overall safety and performance, these solutions tend to carry high price tags. Although most vendors are willing to work with fire departments for a customized fit, this blending of old and new technology can create even bigger issues with regard to installation and maintenance costs if not properly orchestrated.

Looking Ahead

The challenges posed by shifting fiscal priorities and changing societal norms mean volunteer fire organizations must maintain awareness over where their organization is, where it’s going, and what it needs to get there, John Rose Oak Bluffs points out.

Although volunteer fire agencies generally function as mission-driven organizations, they must also employ modern business management processes to assess their organizations’ future. For this reason, strategic thinking and fact-based operational insight will play vital roles in steering the trajectory of our nation’s volunteer fire departments throughout the next decade.

For more insights on the benefits and challenges of becoming a firefighter, follow this John Rose Oak Bluffs page.

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