Grow Your Ranks Part 2: Facebook for Volunteer Fire/EMS Departments

In this three-part series in partnership with the National Volunteer Fire Council, we dicsuss how to boost your volunteer fire/EMS department’s online recruitment efforts through your website, Facebook, and Google for Nonprofits.

Having a social media presence is a must today for fire departments for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is recruitment (and retention). Posting your latest incidents (making sure content is within department policy), event updates, and more is easy – and a great way to drive someone’s interest in joining your department.

Here are some quick suggestions for leveraging Facebook for recruitment and retention:

Facebook (& Instagram) Campaigns and Unlimited Options to Target Recruits

Once you’ve got a section of your web site dedicated to recruitment, Facebook is among the easiest ways to target potential volunteers with advertising messages about your department, drive them to your web site and collect those recruitment form leads. As a bonus, you can also push these campaigns to Instagram.

You can budget as little as $50/month and get an immediate impact from recruitment campaigns on Facebook. You can target by specific demographic, age ranges, those interested in volunteering and causes, and more. Then, you can “boost” posts on Facebook (such as status updates, videos, and photos) or create unique campaigns targeting your selected demographics.

For example, you can target:

  • High school/college students interested in firefighting, EMS, or public service
  • Individuals who have expressed an interest in volunteering or causes
  • Military veterans

Facebook allows you to choose from a virtually unlimited number of demographics including location (city, state, or mile radius), age ranges, and pre-defined interests as well as by what other pages they follow on Facebook.

On Facebook, videos and photos drive the most engagement. Videos don’t need to be fancy – and they shouldn’t be too long. Facebook ads can also be deployed to Instagram automatically.

NEVER forget to include the link to the recruitment section of your web site on EVERY post that could drive someone to learn more about joining your department.

Facebook campaigns require a credit card and a separate “Advertising” account set up, which ties back to your department’s Facebook page. You can learn more at

Recognize Your Volunteers

Post on your social media platforms as volunteers progress through your ranks – from introducing them when they join to congratulating them when they are turned over on a specific apparatus, complete a course, are promoted, are among your top responders, or receive other special recognition. Include a photo whenever possible and encourage your members to share it.

The quickest pipeline of recruitment referrals to your department come from within. You can keep your current members excited about feeling they are being recognized for their progression – and show potential recruits, your community members, and your members’ families what your organization is all about.