VCOS Releases Report on Transition in Volunteer and Combination Fire Departments

Fairfax, VA – The International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) Volunteer and Combination Officers Section (VCOS) announces the release of the “Red Ribbon Report,” titled “Lighting The Path of Evolution, Leading The Transition In Volunteer And Combination Fire Department.”

The Red Ribbon Report was researched and written by fire officers who have experienced transitions in their communities and fire departments in the United States. The report details the evolution of the volunteer fire service and the need for some departments to transition to a combination volunteer/paid department.

The report covers the need for organizational change; the role of strategic planning; and how to design a combination system. The addendum includes several forms and checklists, including employee expectations; an officer evaluation form; and a sample career employee evaluation form.

Of the 26,354 fire departments in the United States, approximately three-quarters of them serve 19,224 communities and are staffed by volunteers. This statistic, cited in the March 2004 Blue Ribbon Report by the VCOS, points to the number of communities that may be seeking transition information. The Red Ribbon report will be a valuable tool for fire chiefs, community leaders and government officials who want a template for transition.

“The issue of transition is of local and national importance, and that is why we are releasing this report to the entire fire service. It provides tremendous insight for the future of the volunteer and combination fire service,” said Chief Bill Killen, president of the IAFC.

“VCOS encourages you to read the report and use it to develop a plan to assist you in your local service operations transition. This document provides a strategic plan for a natural progression to some form of combination fire/EMS system,” said Chief Timothy S. Wall, chair of the Volunteer and Combination Officers Section. “I am extremely proud of the work of the VCOS in producing this document and hope that the volunteer and combination departments will put it to use.”

The Red Ribbon Report is available at:

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