Posted on 29. Jun, 2009 in Uncategorized
This past weekend I was in Jackson, New Hampshire, where I attended the town’s Covered Bridge Dance. You might be wondering what a Covered Bridge Dance has to do with social innovation. The community gathering was to support the Jackson Firefighters’ Association, the volunteer organization that supports Jackson’s volunteer firefighters. Volunteer fire departments – seems like an amazing social innovation to me! With limited tax revenues, towns across the country have long been utilizing volunteers to perform this core service for their community. I recalled that the town I grew up in also had a volunteer fire department, and that some parents I knew volunteered with it.
When I did a web search for volunteer firefighting, I got thousands of websites including volunteerfd.org, the ‘top volunteer firefighting resource.’ I also found this amazing statistic: according to the National Volunteer Fire Council, 73 percent of firefighters in the United States are volunteers. This is, to me, a perfect example of a social innovation that has spread and become a core part of a town’s model to perform a community service. Volunteer fire departments are terrific public-private partnerships based not on one specific organizational model, but on an innovative approach that can and has been adapted in countless communities across the country. It saves the tax payers money, utilizes volunteers in the community, and provides a critical community service. We can learn a lot from how volunteer fire departments have leveraged volunteers and spread and adapted a model for distinct community needs.
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