Fire chief wants answers on recruitment, retention

Warren County Fire Chief Richard E. Mabie hopes the impending selection of a recruitment and retention specialist will help shore up the number of volunteer firefighters whose ranks have been harder to fill in recent years.

Fire departments around the area and the nation have been struggling to attract and keep enough volunteers, and Warren County is no exception.

The Board of Supervisors approved the part-time position in an effort to keep better track of volunteers entering and leaving the department and their reasons for doing so. Part of the process of determining the number and availability of volunteers requires defining the difference between active and inactive volunteers.

“We’re not sure of how many volunteers we have because everybody’s definition of active volunteer is different,” Mabie said. “One of the projects this person will work on with the companies is coming up with a legitimate definition of what a volunteer is.”

The recruitment and retention specialist will also conduct exit interviews with departing volunteers to learn their reasons for leaving and what, if anything, the department can do to encourage others to remain.

“Did they find out they didn’t want to work BINGO?” Mabie said. “Did they find out the training requirements were too long? We want to find out that information. Some of it we can change. Some of it we can’t.”

Mabie estimated 25 or 30 people applied for the position, a lower number than he expected.

“It was slow receiving applications,” Mabie said. “I don’t know whether that was because it was a part-time job, but we didn’t actually get the number of applications that we thought we would.”

The position has been advertised since September. Mabie said he expected the interviewing of finalists to be completed next week and a job offer made on Dec.3.

Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or jbeck@nvdaily.com