Talk the Talk: Empowering Volunteer Firefighters to Recruit

In March 2015, Abington Township Fire Department (ATFD) launched a new program designed to teach our volunteers how to turn any interaction into a recruitment opportunity.

The Talk the Talk workshop, co-hosted by ATFD and local communications expert Leza Raffel, taught participants conversational techniques that can be used to quickly communicate the benefits of volunteering and successfully address concerns or questions about obstacles to joining the fire service. For example, simply asking a question, such as, “Haveyou ever considered
volunteeringwith the fire department?” is a powerful conversationstarter. The workshop also included a role playing exercise to demonstrate the importance of non-verbalcommunication. Participants learned that something as seemingly innocuous as eating at an event booth or turning their back to talk to a colleague can keep potential recruits away, while making eye contact, smiling, and standing up when people approach the booth sends a welcoming message.

Teachingmembers these communication skills obviously helps our department find new volunteers. Just as importantly, empowering current members to participate in one of the most important aspects of running a successful fire department helps our retention efforts.