Maintaining volunteer firefighter numbers: Adding value to the retention coin

Jim McLennan, Adrian Birch, Sean Cowlishaw, Peter Hayes

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

25 Citations (Scopus)


Annual resignation rates for Australian volunteer-based fire agencies range from about 6.7% to 8.3% of total volunteer firefighter memberships. We report two studies investigating aspects of volunteer retention. (1) Analysis of 396 exit survey returns from former volunteers found that reasons contributing to resigning were: Work/Family needs, 51%; Moved from the areas, 38%; Age/Health issues, 28%; Dissatisfaction with the volunteer role, 25%. A major contributor to Dissatisfaction was poor brigade leadership. (2) A survey of 514 second-year volunteers found that higher levels of volunteer satisfaction, and thus intention to remain, were associated strongly with being a member of a well-led, inclusive, and harmonious brigade. Overall, the findings indicated indicated the need for agencies to: (a) distinguish unavoidable reasons for resigning (Moved; Age/Health issues) from potentially avoidable reasons (Work/Family needs; Dissatisfaction); (b) endeavour to balance the demands on volunteers and the needs of their volunteers' work and family life; and (c) enhance the quality of brigade leadership and management.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAustralian Journal of Emergency Management
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2009

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