Date of Award

Spring 2022

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Public Administration (DPA)


Public Policy and Administration

Committee Chairperson

Angela Kline, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Kristen B. Crossney, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Joseph Youngblood II, Ph.D., J.D


The volunteer fire service in the United States is experiencing a decline, presenting the opportunity to study factors impacting current and former volunteer firefighters' ability to serve. A qualitative case study of volunteer fire service organizations in southern New Jersey and eastern Pennsylvania was undertaken through semi-structured interviews with 13 volunteer fire service members to understand this phenomenon. The findings of this study reveal that volunteer firefighters balance their time commitments through prioritization and self-regulation. The findings also indicate that volunteer firefighters are uncertain whether their communities understand the fire service delivery model serving their communities, the potential challenges the volunteer fire service organization faces, or how this may impact the community financially. The discussion advances that recruitment and retention efforts should focus on the return on involvement and the level of involvement of volunteer firefighters throughout their fire service lifecycle. Additionally, recruitment and retention efforts should be directed at the community more determinedly.