Date of Conferral



Doctor of Business Administration (D.B.A.)


Business Administration


Jaime Klein


Volunteer firefighters make up almost 75% of the U.S. fire service. Fire service leaders face challenges in retaining volunteers, as evident by the 12% decline in volunteer firefighters since 1984. The purpose of the study was to explore what strategies fire service leaders have used to retain firefighters in the United States. The conceptual framework of this single case study was Freeman's stakeholder theory, which states that leaders can maximize the organization's performance by meeting the needs of those with a stake in the future of the organization. Face-to-face, seminstrucutred interviews were conducted with a purposeful sample of 5 fire service leaders from Somerset County, New Jersey who had successfully implemented strategies for volunteer firefighter retention. Interview transcripts and supporting documents were explored using a modified Van Kaam model as a basis to analyze and create common themes for coding. Through methodological triangulation, 6 volunteer firefighter retention strategy themes emerged: a) schedule accommodations, (b) nonwage benefits, (c) opportunities for employee success, (d) recognition, (e) family, and (f) recruitment. From these 6 themes, 2 of the most successful retention strategies used by fire service leaders were identified as restructuring requirements for schedule accommodation and offering professional development. Specific recommendations from the research findings for retention include offering training, flexible scheduling, providing uniforms, family inclusion, and employee recognition. Implications for positive social change include offering strategies needed to improve the retention of volunteer firefighters, which may lead to the retention of public service employees to foster a high-quality workforce to serve the public

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