According to an NVFC.org press release, the National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) has been awarded a $2,390,479 Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to implement a national volunteer firefighter recruitment and retention campaign.
All we can say here at FireRECRUITER.com is: “It’s about time!” although $2.4 million dollars for a national campaign is a drop-in-the-bucket compared to how far this campaign needs to reach. Nonetheless, this is a good start that will hopefully build awareness and resources that every volunteer fire department can use.
Nearly 70 percent of firefighters in the U.S. are volunteers. However, the number of volunteers has declined by over 18 percent in the past three decades while the call volume has nearly tripled. At the same time, the average age of the volunteer fire service is increasing. Nationally, volunteers save communities an estimated $140.7 billion dollars a year. It is critical for the safety of our communities and our nation that we continue to have a strong volunteer fire service now and in the future.
The NVFC will use the SAFER grant to develop and implement “Recruit USA,” a national campaign designed to put ready-to-use tools and resources in the hands of local departments to help them recruit and retain members. In addition, the NVFC will conduct significant outreach to potential volunteers to encourage them to join their local fire department. The campaign will take place over a two and a half year period.
The SAFER grant provides funding to fire departments and volunteer firefighter interest organizations to help them increase or maintain the number of trained, front-line firefighters available in their communities. The goal of SAFER is to enhance the local fire departments’ abilities to comply with staffing, response, and operational standards so that communities are protected from fire and fire-related hazards. The FY 2013 SAFER grant program provided approximately $320 million in funding to fire departments and volunteer firefighter support groups.