Go Against the Traffic

Sometimes while en route to an emergency scene you learn the incident is on the other side of the median. Knowing it is difficult to make a U-turn with a fire engine, you decide to go against traffic, meaning drive in the wrong lane. That decision is dangerous and could create further harm if not done correctly. Doing so, however, could save valuable time in mitigating the incident. And even save a life.


The same concept to recruiting new firefighters may apply. You have been down the same lane repeatedly, but the streets look empty. No one is coming to the door to join your team. Well, if the current practices are not working, it is time to GO AGAINST THE TRAFFIC. It is time to do something new to generate excitement and wonder in your community. It may even be time to change your policies as it relates to participation.


Use these simple tips to help you move in the wrong lane safely.

1. Build a plan-

a. Attracting people to your purpose and mission requires an effort. Someone representing your organization should be focusing on recruitment and retention every day. Take small steps to define a plan to improve what you are doing now. Write it out.

2. Use Digital Marketing –

a. The world is using smartphones and tablets to get their information from the world wide web. If you are not visible on the web, it is likely no one knows who you are. Find someone within your organization who loves to be online that can make an impact on your social presence.

3. Create Information Sessions-

a. If you are going to bring people in to learn more about how to become a firefighter, you need to advertise it that way. Do not call it an “Open House.” That is the time I come to the fire station to see the cool fire trucks and eat hotdogs. You are looking for new members! Always market for the need. Don’t confuse the two.

4. Establish a Process –

a. We all have stories we can talk about how WE were hired. Some firefighters received a pulse check, others had to go through months of testing. Today, newer generations are expecting a process to learn more about your agency, the requirements, pay (or not), the testing process, and the like. Prepare that for them. It will help you as well.

5. Work backward –

a. Determine the date you want new staff onboarded and work backward. If you are looking to have people prepared for the start of the fall NFPA 1001 class, work backward from there and build a timeline.

i. Start date October 1st, 2022

ii. Conditional Offer September 15th

iii. Testing – three days

iv. Interviews – Two days

v. Application period – 14 days

vi. Information Session – August 25th

vii. Marketing and Advertising – 60 days

b. Working backward helps you achieve your goal and keeps people on task.


Sometimes we must go against the traffic and focus on what works best for the situation we are dealing with. Following the rest of the traffic and hold you at the stoplight.




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