Date of Conferral
Public Policy and Administration
Dr. Christina Spoons
The number of active volunteer firefighters has been steadily dropping in the state of Connecticut for several years. At the same time, the number of public service calls for fire departments has been on the rise. This problem impacts fire protection and municipalities that rely on volunteer fire departments. The purpose of this narrative study was to explore why volunteer firefighter numbers have been declining, the extent to which recruitment and retention programs are used in volunteer fire departments, and how these programs contribute to a fire department's ability to recruit members. Perry's public service motivation model provided the theoretical framework for the study. Research questions focused on improving recruitment and retention programs. Data were collected from interviews with 5 current chief officers and 5 former firefighters in Connecticut and from organizational documents in local fire departments. Open, axial, and selective coding were used to identify 5 themes: lack of awareness of state policy on recruitment and retention, lack of recruitment, public service motivation, retention, and time. A key theme emerging from this study were that participating fire departments have limited effective recruitment and retention programs. The positive social change implications stemming from this study include recommendations to fire department leadership to consider a unified recruitment and retention strategy. This determination provides a foundation for volunteer fire departments to make informed decisions on how to increase recruitment and retention in their respective communities.