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Recruitment and Retention

Recruitment and retention is one of the biggest challenges facing volunteer fire departments today. Volunteers comprise 70% of our nation's fire service, and it is critical that we keep the volunteer fire service strong now and in the future. Use these pages to find resources to learn more and help implement recruitment and retention initiatives.

Resources

  • Retention and Recruitment for the Volunteer Emergency Services: Challenges and Solutions (Second Edition)
    The NVFC, in partnership with the U.S. Fire Administration, has released this in-depth guide on two of the biggest challenges facing the volunteer fire and emergency services – retention and recruitment. This guide addresses the primary challenges departments face regarding retention and recruitment and then outlines proven solutions to overcome these obstacles. (Having trouble downloading the file? Right click and choose save to open.)
     
  • What to Expect: A Guide for Family Members of Volunteer Firefighters
    Joining the volunteer fire service means a lifestyle change not only for the individual volunteer, but also for their entire family. Family support is a critical component of the retention of a volunteer first responder. To help family members navigate the volunteer fire service life, the NVFC partnered with FirefighterWife.com to create this resource for spouses, children, parents, siblings, and significant others of volunteer and paid-on-call responders. It introduces family members to the basics of the volunteer firefighter life, provides guidance for keeping family relationships strong and being part of the fire department family, and contains an array of tips and resources to help first responder families adjust to this lifestyle. (Having trouble downloading the file? Right click and choose save to open.)

  • Volunteer Benefits By State
    This online tool provides information on types of benefits and incentives each state offers their volunteer firefighters, including retirement, tax incentives, liability coverage, worker's compensation, death benefits, education, and more.
     
  • Fire Corps
    Fire Corps is a program under the Citizen Corps initiative that connects resource-constrained departments with community members to assist in non-emergency roles. This allows first responders to focus on training and operational duties while also increasing the department's capacity and services. Fire Corps members can assist with administration, fundraising, public fire safety education, apparatus maintenance, and much more.
     
  • National Junior Firefighter Program
    Getting youth involved in the fire and emergency services fosters the next generation of first responders and community supporters of the emergency services. The NVFC National Junior Firefighter Program serves as an umbrella for junior firefighter programs nationwide to promote youth participation within the fire and emergency services community.
     
  • Cost Savings Calculator 
    The Cost Savings Calculator allows fire and EMS departments to determine the specific cost savings their department provides to the local community. This can help make the case for increased funding and community and governmental support for the department.

  • Sample Ads
    The NVFC has gathered recruitment ads from fire departments and state associations to serve as examples for others looking to implement a recruitment campaign. These sample ads are available on the Members-Only section of this web site under Members-Only Resources. If you are not an NVFC member, click here to join.

Best Practices

  • Recruit NY
    The Firemen's Association of the State of New York launched this statewide campaign to help fire departments plan and execute successful open houses and recruitment events.
     
  • "Be There" Campaign
    The Washington State Fire Fighters' Association launched the award-winning "Be There" campaign featuring a series of public service announcements and a mini-documentary aimed at statewide volunteer firefighter recruitment.
     
  • Texas Recruitment Campaign
    The State Firemen's and Fire Marshals' Association of Texas created video public service announcements and other materials to help recruit firefighters in Texas through 1-800-FIRE-LINE. An additional PSA is available here.
     
  • Montgomery County Volunteer Fire Rescue Association
    MCVFRA has implemented a series of innovative recruitment and retention ideas, including a store-front recruiting station, a volunteer orientation course, extensive marketing efforts and more.
     
  • Silver Screen Recruitment Idea
    In 2005, six fire departments in the Fairbanks, AK, area joined together to run a recruitment PSA at their local movie theaters during the holiday season.

Videos and PSAs

  • 1-800-FIRE-LINE PSA
    This 30-second PSA encourages community members to call 1-800-FIRE-LINE to find out about volunteer opportunities in their local fire/EMS department. Link to the PSAs from your department or association web site or contact your local radio or television/cable stations to air the PSA. WMV Format


     
  • Junior Firefighter Program Recruitment Video
    Junior firefighter program advisors and department leaders can use this short video, which features juniors participating and explaining their interest in junior firefighting and their plans for their future, to recruit youth for their program at the local level. The video can be downloaded and taken to schools, community organizations, or department open houses to educate youth and adults about the benefit of junior firefighter programs. Sponsored by Tyco. WMV Format


     
  • Retention and Recruitment in the Volunteer Fire and Emergency Services
    This 6-minute video for volunteer and combination departments explains why retaining and recruiting volunteers is important and provides departments with ideas on how they can overcome the challenges as they search for more volunteers. MPG Format


     
  • Fire Corps Video PSA featuring Brian Williams
    NBC newscaster Brian Williams recorded this PSA that you can use in your community to target potential Fire Corps volunteers and garner support for your local Fire Corps program. Fire Corps members assist departments with non-emergency tasks, helping departments to increase their capacity and services while allowing first responders to focus on training and emergency response. MPG Format (3MB)



  • Why I Chose Fire: Next Generation Volunteer Video
    This 9-minute video created by Fire 20/20 aims to inform, inspire, and motivate qualified, diverse, inclusive, and safety-conscious young adults, ages 15-25, to join the fire/emergency medical service. Click here to download a free copy of Why I Chose Fire: Next Generation from the Fire 20/20 web site. They also offer a customization package.