Age and Motivations to Become an Australian Volunteer Firefighter

March 2009 (VOL. 27, NO. 1)

Download this article

Australian communities are very dependent on volunteer-based fire services for protection against wildfires and other disasters. However, volunteer firefighter numbers have declined significantly over the past decade, due mostly to impacts of economic and demographic changes on Australian society. One effect of these is that volunteer fire service memberships are ageing. Little is known with certainty about what motivates individuals to become volunteer firefighters. The current study of 988 volunteer firefighters suggests that those who volunteer do so because of a mix of self-oriented, fire safety-oriented, and community-oriented motivations. It appears that younger volunteers are more likely to be motivated by perceived self-oriented benefits from volunteering compared with older volunteers. However, they are no less motivated, on average, by safety concerns and community contribution motivations than are older volunteers.