NVFC Launches ‘Make Me a Firefighter’ Campaign to Help Departments Recruit Volunteers
At a press conference on December 1 in Washington, DC, the National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) officially launched the public outreach component of the Make Me A Firefighter recruitment campaign, which is designed to help fire and EMS departments find more volunteers. The campaign features a department portal at http://portal.nvfc.org filled with resources and tools for implementing a local recruitment campaign as well as a public web site at www.MakeMeAFirefighter.org to allow potential volunteers to find local opportunities.
Volunteer firefighters make up 69 percent of the nation’s fire service and save communities nationwide an estimated $140 billion per year. Yet the number of volunteers has declined by about 12 percent since 1984 while call volume has nearly tripled. In addition, the average age of volunteer firefighters is increasing as departments are finding it difficult to reach Millennials – those within the 18-34 age range.
The NVFC received a federal SAFER grant to help departments address these challenges. A soft launch was held over the summer and fall to inform departments about the campaign and release initial resources. The campaign is now fully launched and promotion to the public has begun. Departments should post their volunteer opportunities in the database at http://portal.nvfc.org to make sure that potential volunteers can find them when visiting the www.MakeMeAFirefighter.org web site.
“Recruiting new volunteers and retaining existing members are two critical challenges facing volunteer fire and EMS departments,” said NVFC Chairman Kevin D. Quinn. “NVFC research has shown that a key hurdle is many people simply don’t realize their department needs volunteers. Another challenge is that volunteer departments often don’t have the time or resources to develop a robust recruitment campaign. The Make Me A Firefighter campaign helps alleviate these obstacles by putting ready-to-use, message-tested resources in the hands of local departments.”
An NVFC survey conducted last year indicates that 29 percent of the U.S. population has an interest in volunteering as a responder in the fire and emergency services. The numbers were even higher among under-represented audiences, with 44 percent of Millennials and 36 percent of minorities expressing an interest in operational volunteer roles. However, the survey also revealed an awareness issue, with 41 percent of respondents unaware that their local department utilized volunteers, and 79 percent unaware that their department was in need of more volunteers.
The Make Me A Firefighter campaign will help bridge these gaps by increasing awareness among the public, providing departments with resources and training to hold a successful recruitment campaign, and helping departments diversify the audience and reach of their recruitment efforts.
Through the department portal at http://portal.nvfc.org, departments can now:
Post their volunteer opportunities
Customize outreach materials including ads, emails, and flyers
Create personal invitations to potential volunteers
Access tools for working with the media
Prepare Your Community and Department for Wildfire
In addition, online courses on a variety of relevant topics will be released in the coming month to help departments reach target audiences, embrace new members, and retain those who join.
The public can go to www.MakeMeAFirefighter.org to learn what it means to be a volunteer in the emergency services and find local volunteer opportunities. Opportunities posted by departments are also be searchable through additional volunteer databases such as www.AllForGood.org.
The NVFC encourages volunteer and combination departments to register at http://portal.nvfc.org, utilize the recruitment tools, and post their opportunities so that potential volunteers can find them.
About the National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC)
The NVFC is the leading nonprofit membership association representing the interests of the volunteer fire, EMS, and rescue services. The NVFC serves as the voice of the volunteer in the national arena and provides invaluable resources, programs, training, and advocacy for first responders across the nation. Learn more at www.nvfc.org.
Help to mitigate wildfire threats in your community by taking advantage of the FREE Wildland Fire Assessment Program (WFAP). These resources are designed to make sure fire departments and residents in the wildland-urban interface (WUI) are ready when the next wildfire strikes.
What is the WFAP and what can it do for your community?
The NVFC and the U.S. Forest Service teamed up to create the WFAP to help volunteer fire departments and Fire Corps teams work side-by-side with residents to identify threats around their homes and property that may be susceptible to widlfires. Specifically, the program prepares volunteer firefighters and support personnel to conduct home safety assessments and provide residents with recommendations as to how to make their homes more fire adapted.
The program offers training and resources in a train-the-trainer format so students can take the information back to their stations and teach their members about how to perform a home assessment. A checklist is included that can be left with the homeowner, and a copy can be taken back to the department to track how many homes have been reached. The department can also use the checklist to follow up with homeowners to see if mitigation recommendations made during the assessment have been completed. Marketing and supplemental resources are available to help departments publicize this service to the public.
How can your department participate?
There are many free resources and training available through the WFAP and our partner programs. Here are some steps and resources to get you started. Visit the WFAP webpage for more.
Take the WFAP training. Now is the time to start training your members through the WFAP so you can begin performing home assessments before the next wildfire season. Take the course online, or host a FREE in-person training.
Get out into your community. A variety of marketing materials are available to help departments publicize the WFAP program and spread wildfire mitigation messages. Start advertising your home assessment service so the public knows it is available. Handouts and supplemental resources to leave with the homeowner are available in the WFAP toolkit and on the WFAP webpage. Access marketing materials.
Track your progress. Knowing how many homes you’ve reached and which properties have made changes to mitigate the impact of wildfire is key to finding out if your community is becoming more fire adapted. You can easily log your assessments and track your progress utilizing the WFAP assessment tools. Email
with the subject line WFAP Assessment to set up a free, personalized data-tracking system for your department.
Be part of the Fire Adapted Communities (FAC) movement. A “Fire Adapted Community” incorporates people, buildings, businesses, infrastructure, cultural resources, and natural areas to prepare for the effects of wildfire. Gain guidance from the FAC and learn about specific actions you can take to reduce your risk. Access FAC information and resources.
Involve your department in a Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP). Does your community have one? If so, is your fire department involved and aware of its role in the CWPP? CWPPs address issues such as wildfire response, hazard mitigation, community preparedness, structure protection, and more. If a CWPP doesn’t exist for your community, consider rallying your local and state government representatives in consultation with federal agencies and other key stakeholders to develop one. The process of developing a CWPP can help a community clarify and refine its priorities for the protection of life, property, and critical infrastructure in the WUI. Access CWPP information and resources.
Now is the time for action.
Reports and studies have shown that fire and EMS departments are a key component in educating residents about the importance of wildfire mitigation efforts. In a two-county survey in Colorado, it was found that the most important sources of information for WUI residents that were related to taking action were informal social networks (such as talking with neighbors) and guidance from local fire departments and county wildfire specialists (USDA/USFS Science You Can Use, Bulletin; September/October 2013, Issue 7).
Studies predict that the number and intensity of wildfires are only going to increase over the next decades. The NVFC encourages your fire department to recognize what a critical role you play in wildfire mitigation efforts. Utilize the WFAP resources to help residents take personal responsibility so their homes and families are prepared for a wildfire.