Categories: Featured News, Americas
Tags: funding, NVFC

Federal funding granted to NVFC for boosting volunteer fire services

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In a crucial advancement for volunteer firefighter recruitment and retention, the National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) has been granted a Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). This marks the third time NVFC has received this grant since 2014.

NVFC’s tireless efforts to address the critical need for adequate staffing within the volunteer fire service have led to this recent accomplishment. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), volunteers comprise 65% of firefighters nationwide, and 90% of fire departments rely on their efforts. Additionally, volunteer firefighters save communities an estimated $46.9 billion annually. Despite their importance, many departments grapple with maintaining sufficient volunteer numbers to meet the communities’ needs safely and effectively.

Recognizing these challenges, NVFC has utilized previous SAFER grants to successfully initiate several initiatives, including the ‘Make Me A Firefighter’ campaign. The campaign has developed materials and tools aiding departments in their recruitment endeavors, established a national database for prospective volunteers to locate local opportunities, and launched a nationwide public awareness drive about the necessity of volunteers.

This newly acquired $2.9 million grant, spread over four years, will further enhance the NVFC’s efforts to support fire departments’ staffing and recruitment. Three strategies are at the core of this grant’s usage.

Resource development will see NVFC creating research-based materials to support recruitment and retention and expand the ‘Make Me A Firefighter’ campaign. Planned resources include a mentorship program guide, leadership handbook, and an onboarding kit.

Training initiatives will continue to offer existing programs on recruitment and retention and develop new courses. Two recruitment and retention conferences are also scheduled within the grant’s timeframe.

Outreach efforts will involve public campaigns to inspire volunteer participation and inform departments about available recruitment and retention tools and resources.

Expressing gratitude for the grant, NVFC chair Steve Hirsch said, “Recruitment and retention are top priorities for the NVFC. If a department does not have sufficient staffing, this impacts the safety of both the firefighters and the community members. It is critical that we work to address the key barriers to recruitment and retention and develop solutions to help departments thrive. We thank FEMA for providing this critical funding so we can continue our work to make sure our fire departments are best prepared and equipped to protect our communities.”

The SAFER grants, part of FEMA’s Assistance to Firefighters Grant program, aim to bolster local fire departments’ abilities to comply with the NFPA’s staffing, response, and operational standards.

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