On August 2, 2009, the Capitol Heights Volunteer Fire Department lost all career staffing as part of Fire Chief Eugene Jones’ new staffing plan. This has had a tremendous impact on our ability to provide consistent service to the citizens of Capitol Heights and surrounding communities. While the Capitol Heights Volunteer Fire Department has always actively recruited, it was clear that our recruitment efforts would have to take on a whole new dimension for us to survive as a department. The department has actively recruited in the community, at George Washington University, Catholic University and by reaching out to family and friends. New recruitment efforts, coupled with our will to survive and our passion for the Capitol Heights Volunteer Fire Department and the citizens we serve, has made us a better department. However, we are not out of the woods yet.
Each day our staffing levels continue to improve and we continue to get new members trained. Existing volunteer membership has increased their participation. Some inactive lifetime members have been re-recruited to provide the seasoned veterans needed to train new recruits and to provide the leadership needed to get us through this staffing crisis.
Outlined below are some statistics that reflect our recruitment efforts since the loss of career staffing:
Recruitment Summary (August 2009 through February 2010)
- Background checks pending completion – 51
- Backgrounds complete; physicals pending – 15
- Backgrounds / physicals complete; Volunteer Recruit School pending – 3
- Volunteer Recruit School completed – 2
- Volunteer Recruit School and Firefighter I completed – 1
- Volunteer Recruit School and EMT-B completed – 1
- Recruits with prior training / experience – 2
- Total new recruits – 322
- Inactive members re-recruited to active service – 3
- Three (3) of these new recruits have EMT-B from another jurisdiction and are in the reciprocity process to become Maryland EMT-B certified.
- Of the 32 new recruits, only 3 have not successfully completed the background check or physical examination.
These new recruits bring a variety of backgrounds, education and experience to the table. Each of them is driven in their own way to become a skilled firefighter and / or emergency medical technician. We must continue to motivate them to extend themselves beyond the minimally required training and to draw upon their diversity to get us to think about new ways of doing business.
The department has had recent discussions with the County about the possibility of career staffing returning to the station in the future. However, we will not let our volunteer recruitment efforts slip. We must continue to look for new and innovative ways of recruiting and retaining competent volunteer firefighters, emergency medical technicians, and administrative support. The department will celebrate its 100th anniversary of incorporation in 2014. As we near this significant milestone, we must continue to mold and inspire young new leaders that will continue to provide service delivery and carry on our traditions of community service on for another 100 years.