Recruitment and retention of volunteers in emergency services

Document Type


Publication details

Baxter-Tomkins, A & Wallace, M 2009, 'Recruitment and retention of volunteers in emergency services', Australian Journal on Volunteering, vol. 14, pp. 39-49.

Peer Reviewed



This paper reports recruitment and retention findings from a series of comprehensive, in-depth interviews with emergency service volunteers from the NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) and the NSW State Emergency Service. The research shows that the strongest inducement to join emergency services is based on mobilising personal relationships. The research also shows that issues around retention are manifested at a personal level, where the relationships in the team are vital, but that organisational factors also have an impact on turnover. It is concluded that recruitment and retention of emergency services volunteers, like their paid counterparts, is an issue and that this may affect sustainability of emergency services and other organisations that rely on volunteers. Recommendations are made to enhance recruitment and retention in emergency services and other organisations utilising volunteers.