01 Aug Leading to New Volunteers Posted at 12:24h in Recruitment and Retention by Bryan Riebe 0 Comments 0 Likes Among the many joys of my life as a son, brother, husband, father, and Papa there is another-serving Greenville County and the State of South Carolina as a Paramedic and Firefighter. This pathway was instilled in my life by the wonderful examples of my parents, family, and church friends who demonstrated an unyielding commitment of love and service to others. Do similar routes of engaging others to a life of public service exist today? Evidence from the National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) proves there are excellent initiatives continually directing others into emergency services. Familial connections to fire department/EMS, monetary incentives or award programs, and simple words of appreciation recruit and retain individuals in serving their local community. Successfully building vibrant fire and EMS agencies demands a high level of leadership. Can all leaders of volunteer or combination departments exhibit this dynamic? According to the NVFC (2017, p. 132), “department’s leaders set the tone, policies, expectations, and ultimately the culture under which the department operates.” To grow departments in this era, volunteer and combination department leaders must begin accepting individuals for who they are; prudently training for and/or performing the requisite skills of emergency responders, and creating an environment encouraging individuals to feel welcome. “As the direct liaisons to the department membership, leaders aid in looking toward and setting the direction for the future of the organization”(NVFC, 2017, p. 132). Several years ago a committee of South Carolina Chief Officers recognized a need to improve the management abilities for our state’s volunteer fire service leaders. Developing an on-line resource to educate current Chief Officers and others promoting or seeking advancement to Chief, the committee’s work focuses on laws/regulations specific to South Carolina fire departments and on best guide practices for instituting in the volunteer and combination departments. In the 3 years since the program began, 1355 students have enrolled with 785 Fire Chief 101 certifications issued at this time. From the NVFC (2017, p. 133), “With proper leadership and the right efforts to create positive change, success will come.” Keep progressing South Carolina Volunteer/Combination Fire Service leaders. Don’t measure progress by retirements. Move forward. Communities demand it. Departments expect it. Change is yours.