The National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) has launched 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.
“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
- Track recruits
- Customize outreach materials including ads, emails, and flyers
- Create personal invitations to potential volunteers
- Access tools for working with the media
- And more!
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 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.