We’ve been waiting for you!

“We have been waiting for you!” — That’s the theme of the recruitment campaign promoted by the Depew Fire Department here in Erie County NY. Their banner at one of the busiest intersections in Western New York caught my eye today while traveling to a meeting.

The slogan invokes the idea that if you’re reading their banner, it’s your turn to step up and serve.

My experience has shown that sometimes it’s the public who is waiting for us, the volunteer fire service, to publicly inform them that we’re looking for more volunteers. Such was the case when our Ladies Auxiliary purchased a lighted outdoor sign for our fire department about six years ago. I remember thinking at the time that there were much higher priority items that we could be spending that few thousand dollars on instead of a sign. I was quickly “schooled” on the the value of that sign when shortly after using it to promote our recruitment message for the first time, several people stepped up to serve.

During their prospective member interview, I asked them what brought them to the door? Was it a personal referral, our web site, the call to duty invoked by the sound of our sirens racing past their house? The repeated answer was “D. None of the above.” — Every single candidate indicated that they came to our door simply because they’d seen our want for more volunteers on that new, lighted sign in front of the fire station. “Huh. Who woulda thunk it?”

Just the fact that we publicized that there were opportunities to volunteer — gave our citizens the opportunity to volunteer. Perhaps that’s Depew’s plan too. Start by letting them know you have a want and a need for more volunteers. Early reports are that they received five applicants just within the first week the banner was posted. That’s a big shot in the arm for any size department, even Depew which has over 100 active firefighters.

With Fire Prevention Week right around the corner, what will your fire department being doing to let the public know that “We have been waiting for you” ?

Share your ideas and examples with the FireRECRUITER and I will reciprocate in kind.

Whatever your plans are, remember to treat every public interaction as an opportunity to recruit, educate and relate positively to the public — the people you serve — and reap the rewards.

Stay safe. Train often.