This edition’s cover story showcases a great collaborative effort by 12 fire departments in the Niagara region of Ontario through the creation of a volunteer firefighter recruitment video. Spearheaded by the Niagara Regional Fire Chiefs Association, the story of how this video was created is an inspiring tale of quick cooperation and can-do spirits. The project required a vast web of communication, team work and time, and serves as an example for how many other regions in Canada could band together to strengthen their volunteer recruitment strategies.
For fire chiefs, working alongside other fire chiefs has benefits beyond a shared recruitment strategy, agreements to help each other during certain incidents, training together, or sharing information (although these are all very worthwhile endeavours). It’s possible you’ll be lucky enough to make a new friend. Many adults in their busy work and life-filled lives are hard pressed to prioritize adding a new friend to the mix, and as obvious as the essential presence of friends are to our lives, socializing can take a back seat.
Working on a project together bonds people, and if two people have sized one another up as potential friends, enough hours together will foster an acquaintanceship, a casual friendship and if it’s meant to be, a best friendship. An American study by Jeffrey Hall in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships called “How many hours does it take to make a friend?” was published in 2018. Aside from noting that having friends was a key predictor of happiness, the number and quality of social interactions in early life can predict well-being outcomes 30 years later. Despite it being well-known how important friends are, the study found Americans spent just 41 minutes a day socializing, which was one third of the time spent watching TV or commuting (pre-COVID times). The study results estimated it took about 50 hours of contact to go from acquaintances to casual friends, and more than 200 hours to develop a close friendship. As many of you have likely experienced, people can feel like friends much faster with the right cocktail of mutual admiration and appreciation shaken up with a good dose of fun.
Acquaintances, casual friends, close friends and family all enrich our lives with their unique perspectives, characters and histories that bring us out of our sometimes siloed existence. Remembering how much more we can do when we lean on one another in a reciprocal fashion is good for everyone in the department. One great reason to become a volunteer firefighter is simply the opportunity to become part of an organization where you can make new friends, and that opportunity will give as much back to the individual as the volunteer will give to their community. •
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