Firefighters volunteering beyond their duty: an essential asset in rural communities

Debbie Haski-Leventhal, Jill D. McLeigh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Fire departments are essential assets in American rural communities. The current study aims to understand the motivations and the personal, organizational, and communal aspects that drive firefighters (both paid and volunteers) to engage in additional voluntary community work. Their volunteer activity challenges existing theories on motivation to volunteer, since these firefighters already have what most volunteers seek (e.g., recognition and satisfaction). Two focus groups of firefighters were assembled in which volunteer and career firefighters shared their perceptions about their communities and the work they do for them. Qualitative data analysis showed that leadership, attitudinal commitment, a strong sense of affiliation, altruism, and a sense of community all influenced firefighters perceptions and motivations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)80-92
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of rural and community development
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • firefighters
  • community
  • volunteer
  • focus groups
  • asset-based community development


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