Acquisition of Members
Please click on the small triangle in front of each topic to see the information for the different partner countries.
Strategies for Recruiting Members:
GermanyThere are no sufficient firefighters due to the demographic change in the fire brigades. The comrades are getting older and have health problems and therefore cannot completely secure the fire brigade.
Our children's and youth fire brigade was founded to counteract this development and to inspire young people and children for the fire brigade. The children support the fire brigade with performances at events such as the hometown festival, in day-care centres and in schools. In addition, flyers designed by the members of the children's fire brigade are being distributed. Sometimes the children are being picked up from home by a fire truck and invited to the training. It is not uncommon for parents to join the fire brigade afterwards. Children and youth camps with competitions and shows take place regularly. For the international town meeting of the "Gmünder in Europe" a joint youth camp with competitions and cultural exchange was being held. At our traditional graduation celebrations of the primary schools of Dieskau and Gröbers, a delegation of the children's fire brigade is present, organizes competitions and shows all interested children and parents the acquired knowledge and skills. It motivates children and parents to think about joining the fire brigade.
In the individual villages, an "open day" is held in the fire brigade building to attract members. Both, young and grown-ups are informed about the most important tasks of the fire brigade and thus the interest in participating can be aroused. It is very difficult to find suitable young people. Advertising for the fire brigade is done centrally in the municipality, through articles in our official gazette and individually in the individual districts.
A central advertising campaign by the state of Saxony-Anhalt is currently underway:
New Pulling Forces - Ideas contest for more fire brigades
"The voluntary fire brigades in Saxony-Anhalt are doing a good job. That's out of the question. New ideas and experiences are needed to keep it that way. Therefore,
the state is organising an ideas contest "NEUE ZUGKRÄFTE" (New Pulling Forces). The best ideas in the categories "offspring" (children and youth fire brigade) and "deployment"
(active service in the adult area) win 3,000, 2,000 or 1,000 Euros each. An expert jury selects the winners. All ideas are collected in the Ministry of the Interior.
Let the other fire brigades in the country benefit from your ideas and be inspired by their ideas for your own membership acquisition! Don't worry about forms: Ideas
or concepts are submitted using a simple online form. All you have to do is enter the title, brief concept, pictures - if you like - and the contact. Every idea counts -
even if it has already been implemented.”
What do you stand for?
""The volunteer fire brigades in Saxony-Anhalt are responsible for the safety of the citizens around the clock." Saxony-Anhalt's Minister of the Interior and Sport,
Holger Stahlknecht, summed it up on 19 April 2018. At the presentation of the main poster motifs of the campaign for more fire brigades, he said: "With their voluntary
work, the comrades are an important pillar of our society. Our sincere thanks goes to these men and women. It is our common task to ensure the readiness of our fighters,
also in the future." This also includes personnel reinforcement. The comrades of the volunteer fire brigade take a stand for your safety. What do you stand for? Your
volunteer fire department needs you. Just like you need them. So contact your local volunteer fire brigade to find out how to get active, or use our contact form, quickly
The main poster motifs are being used throughout the state to recruit new members for the voluntary fire brigades in Saxony-Anhalt. The introduction took place on the Cathedral Square in Magdeburg. Also present were Saxony-Anhalt's Minister of the Interior and Sports, Holger Stahlknecht, Kai-Uwe Lohse, Chairman of the State Fire Brigade Association, and Jürgen Leindecker, Managing Director of the Association of Towns and Municipalities of Saxony-Anhalt. Firefighters from Hasselfelde, who were the main motif models, were also present at the introduction. The event aroused great interest among the press representatives. The two people behind the poster campaign, Mrs. Ina Härter and Mr. Nils Wittke were in high demand as interview partners. The package of measures includes posters and radio spots. By the end of the year, these will be broadcasted by various radio stations in Saxony-Anhalt.”
In spite of these efforts, we do not achieve any great quantifiable success. Only small individual successes can be reported. The reason for this is the very high burden on the volunteer comrade in connection with his or her work and family.
DenmarkWe can always use more volunteer firefighters. Each fire station has a rating regarding the number of firefighters, and in the moment this rating is achieved. But we are very vulnerable. If only one firefighter is leaving the job, it will leave a hole, and increase the colleges activities. That’s why we always try to have potential firefighters in a “job bank”.
Basically, we use a simple strategy for recruiting:
- Word-of-mouth (firefighter to one interested)
- Good work environment
- “City talks” – The reputation in the local area
- Business networks
Until now, the campaigns have been successful, but only because of a well-planned campaign, good cooperation with the existing firefighters and the most important thing off all: A well-planned plan for educating and integrating new volunteers.
CroatiaZagreb Firefighting Association has 57 volunteer fire departments; altogether 2.538 members of children and youth, 3.682 operational members and 2.895 reserved members. In the last few years a big promotion of firefighters, professional and volunteer, has been done through social media, written media and television. Last year, since we deal with big wildfires on coast, firefighting activities became very popular in the whole country.
Generally volunteer departments in Zagreb have enough members, but that depends on more factors. Departments on the city edges (rural parts of the city) have more members then those departments situated in the city. They recruit new members easier and members are usually whole families (few generations of a family). Since they are further from the city, they do not have so much opportunities for other activities so they join volunteer fire brigades. Generally, it’s important to emphasize that a membership tradition plays a big role in whole country.
The most common recruitment strategy is visiting schools and kindergartens in order to get young members. Work with children and youth is very important in Zagreb Firefighting Association and the annual budget of the Association for children and youth is around 13.000 Euro. The Association organizes annual quiz competitions, and every two years a city competition from which the best teams will represent the Association on the state competition. Each department, which takes part in the competition gets around 60 euro per team, and the best teams get financial awards (first place around 300 euro, second place around 250 euro and third place around 200 euro). Without participation on competitions, a department will not get those finances. Since departments don’t have their own sources of financing, this way of financing and rewarding works well with youths. The Association motivates volunteer fire departments to recruiting new/ young members.
Other strategies are popularization of firefighting through social media and participating on different social events, organizing ‘Open door day’ of departments, involving a friend, member of family. There aren’t national campaigns to inform about possibilities to become a volunteer fire fighter, volunteer fire departments have their own strategies. Usually the most successful strategy is visiting schools and as we already mentioned, tradition plays a big role.
- Most of the volunteer fire brigades are overcrowded
- Or at least have enough members to operate 24/7
- It is „word of mouth“ advertisement
- New members are invited by active members
BulgariaNational documents defining the activity of Volunteer Fire Brigades
- Strategy for development the volunteer formations for protection of disasters, fire and other emergency cases in Republic of Bulgaria for the period 2012 – 2020 year.
- Strategy implementation plan for the period 2013 – 2020 year.
- Ordinance for the establishment and organization of the activity of the voluntary formations for prevention or control of disasters, fire and extraordinary situations and treatment of their consequences.
- Ordinance for conditions, rules for receipt and dimensions of payments received for training and implementing tasks for protection against disasters
- not enough promotion
- not many people interested
- not enough people trained
- no suitable specialists to be involved
- promotion of the volunteer work in local newspapers
- information through local authorities and in villages
- training young people in school and after that attracting them for becoming volunteers
- information about the possible benefits for volunteers
- Education of volunteers: 3 educational modules(2 technical + 1 medical); Exam
- Registration in national data base.
- Receiving ID number.
- Contract signing.
- Structure organizing (groups dividing)
HungaryIn Hungary usually there is a need for new members, however the weak financial possibilities make it hard to implement strategies. Volunteer fire brigades have to find new members individually. The most common tools that are used are websites, Facebook profiles and event organization (e.g. Ball of the Fire Fighters, competitions on St. Florian’s Day), as well as showcases of operations and presentations at local/regional events. Another way is to make presentations on events organized at holidays (like Children’s Day, a Hungarian National Holiday on 20th of August and the connecting Flower Festival in Debrecen) and to organize small local programs (like March at Christmas with firetrucks decorated by lights, sprinkling at Easter). Volunteer fire brigades also organize charity actions (e.g. giving presents for poor families in the name of Santa Claus). The purpose of the last action is not to recruit new members, but this action make the people aware of the existence of the volunteer fire brigade and their community role. The cost of these actions are very low, and the brigades try to make, collect, find everything themselves, that are necessary for them.
Unsuccessful Recruitment Strategies:
GermanyRecruiting new members is very difficult. Above all we failed because of the personal attitude of the people towards the fire brigade. Problems in recruiting occur also due to the compatibility of work, family and volunteer work. Together with the children and youth fire brigade we made a presentation of carrying and abseiling in a shopping centre. We had enough spectators, but no success in recruiting new members. The audience liked what the children did, but eventually were not convinced. Despite personal discussions with the spectators on site.
So far no initiative of the ministry's nationwide support has been successful. This action is not suitable for direct advertising on site, for and with the people we would like to address. Conversations with people are more important than posters.
DenmarkWe’ve tried to be present in the city for example on a Saturday, trying to recruit new volunteers, but that’s not successful, as long as the citizens don’t know the Fire & Rescue Service, and the opportunity to become a volunteer. From this we can learn that the tasks and function of the fire brigades must be brought closer to the citizens even more intensively, in order to strengthen the understanding.
CroatiaWe put some posters in neighborhood with invitation to the ‘old/past’ members to join the department again, but that action was totally unsuccessful. It is very difficult to ‘get back’ a member who decided to leave. It’s necessary to have ‘one to one’ contact and conversations with each member separately, which is sometimes difficult to arrange.
EstoniaWe haven´t tried any other specific methods to recruit new members.
BulgariaRecruiting new members only on professional skills basis does not work properly. Also forcing someone to be a volunteer is wrong. The most important thing is the desire to be a volunteer without any profits.
There is one big difference in Bulgaria – professional firefighters, soldiers and offices from the army, Ministry of defense and Ministry of interior who are still working COULD NOT become volunteers. Such well-trained people can join VF only after they retired or left / change work.
HungaryThere are no methods that did not workout, as the volunteer fire brigades use the methods for recruiting with connecting them to other effects as well, e.g. charity action, community role, etc.
Strategies for Retaining Members:
GermanyThe most important point for the maintenance of the volunteer fire-brigade is the comradeship and a healthy personal and human togetherness. It turned out that a motivating factor is the financial support of the volunteer service. The voluntary work of the fire brigade is financially supported according to law and budget. In accordance with the statute, leaders receive a monthly allowance for their voluntary work. The amount of compensation is prescribed by law. Outside of this legal specification, firefighters receive an allowance of 5 € per firefighter from the municipality. A further additional provision from the budget is not legally possible, which, however, precludes an upward revaluation of the volunteer service. The state planned to provide pension insurance for the comrades who work in the volunteer fire brigade, but failed due to legal hurdles. Through donations from companies and enterprises we receive further financial means for the fire brigades.
DenmarkWe’re trying to facilitate that the volunteers have a good work environment and modern equipment. Volunteers must feel proud of being a volunteer at the Fire & Rescue Service. They identify themselves as a firefighter, before they identify themselves, for example as a father. That’s why we give them the opportunity to “flash” their identity, wearing jackets, t-shirts, caps etc. with the company logo. We also try to keep an extraordinary high professional level, providing meaningful tasks. But the most important thing is to make sure, that there is a recognition (internal/external) of the firefighter, the firefighters employee and the family's contribution.
CroatiaEach department and their leaders organize different activities for their members in order to motivate them to participate in the work of the department. Young members are prepared for competitions, operational members participate in different courses organized by the Association, and the veterans have their annual meeting and they also participate in the competitions for veterans. The Zagreb Firefighting Association has an annual plan and program and each department has to participate in it. The financing of the department depends on the implementation of that program and the results are published on the annual scoring.
Young members have the possibility to participate in summer camps on the coast. Departments usually organize annual excursion for all members. The work and success of each department depends on activities of all members, but the leaders are those who need to have skills and knowledge to motivate all others. It is a volunteer work and people have to love it and enjoy it, otherwise they will not become a volunteer firefighter.
EstoniaLocal and national different joint events like Christmas parties and summer gatherings. Most important factor of retaining members is when everyone gets along and we have a good time together.
- Searching a way of creating community “volunteers”
- Organizing social network for volunteer members
- Protective equipment (uniforms) – free (500 € per pax, 2 years of use)
- Office, transport vehicles, radio communication, special working equipment
- Insurance for all activities and training
- Discharge of local Taxes and Charges*
- Free of charge parking lots*
- Firewood receiving – free*
- Preferences for application in kindergartens*
- Free public transport* (*All stimulation can be used after 1 year as a member and by recommendation of the leader of the volunteer formation)
HungaryAs the volunteers do not get any money for their work, the state try to make rules in order to provide compensation to them. The town/city they are operating has got the right to give partly or fully exemption from local taxes. But most generally the brigades can retain their members through the team spirit: they work together, they become friends and they remain part of the brigade because they know the others and the whole community need them.
There are prizes that are given by state representatives to volunteer firefighters in case their work is outstanding, and the competitions organized for them also have got prizes to be won. These are the tools that can help to retain the members.