FLORENCE, Ala. (WHNT) - It's a problem that is sweeping the nation, volunteer fire departments say they are having a tough time recruiting and retaining firefighters to serve in their communities.
“Right now the length of service for (volunteer) firefighters is about four-and-a-half years,” explained Adam McCanless, president of the Lauderdale County Volunteer Firefighters Association. “That's about as long as you can keep them, and keep them active and interested in it.”
McCanless has been involved in volunteer fire fighting for more than seventeen years, and he has seen the good times and the bad.
However one of the toughest challenges he has faced recently is recruiting volunteers to serve as firefighters.
“If you have more people involved, number one, it shows them they have some ownership in the fire department, so they take more pride in the fire department, plus they feel needed and wanted there,” said McCanless.
To help departments in the recruitment effort, the Northwest Florida Volunteer Firefighter Association will be holding a two-day workshop in Florence in February.
According to McCanless, it will focus on leadership, retention and branding.
“It's a new way to market and put a brand on your fire department,” said McCanless. “So, whenever they see a poster that you put out, just like the Nike symbol, you think of your fire department.”
A message that McCanless said all volunteer firefighter agencies need to hear.
The seminar is being offered without any cost to the attending agencies through a federal SAFER grant.
According to McCanless, the workshop is open to all volunteer fire departments and community leaders in Alabama, Tennessee, Mississippi, Georgia and Florida.
There is no cost to attend the two-day workshop.
Travel, two nights lodging, and per diem for attendees will be reimbursed upon completion of the workshop.
The workshop will be held on February 8th and 9th at the University of North Alabama, East Campus in Florence.
All attendees must register in one of two ways, go to www.lcavfd.org or contact Ashley at 855-VOL-FIRE.