Factors impacting on recruiting and retaining Australia's volunteer firefighters: Some research evidence

Jim McLennan, Adrian Birch, Ruth Beatson, Sean Cowlishaw

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

Abstract

Findings from four studies that examined issues impacting on the recruitment and retention of women volunteer firefighters are described. Two studies involved surveying current volunteers; one involved a survey of members of rural communities who were not volunteers whereas the other involved interviews with agency staff. Women are deterred from volunteering because: (a) they fear not being welcomed in a male environment; (b) they believe that they are not suited to firefighting; and (c) they have child-care responsibilities. There are few meaningful differences between women and men in motivations to become volunteer firefighters. Women volunteers overwhelmingly reported feeling welcomed and accepted, however a significant number reported experiences of discrimination and harassment. A greater number reported difficulties with the fit of protective clothing and the usability of equipment. While some of the problems described are relatively intractable, others could be addressed quickly and effectively, albeit at some financial cost.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)59-69
JournalAustralian Journal on Volunteering
Volume12
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2007

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