Department Spotlight: Alvin Volunteer Fire Department
Department Name: Alvin Volunteer Fire Department
Department Location: Alvin, TX
Department Type: Combination
Number of Active Volunteers: 70
Community Type: Suburban
What challenges have you experienced in terms of recruiting new members to your department?
The time commitment for new recruits to complete our department academy is more than they realize. Historically we have had one-quarter to one-third of new recruits (2-5 people) drop out of every academy before it begins or at some point during the academy. Family commitments and work schedules are the main reasons recruits give for dropping out.
What methods have proven successful in recruiting new volunteers?
Our recruiting efforts on social media platforms have proven the most successful for our department. The department PIO posts messages and pictures about our application process and academy.
Several times during our recruiting period, the department will send a fire truck with 4-6 firefighters to large businesses (grocery stores, home improvement, general retail, fast food) and visit with citizens about volunteering with fire department.
During this recruiting period each year, the department will put recruiting yard banners at each of our fire stations. A mannequin dressed in full bunker gear/SCBA and brochures with information on the fire department is moved around to different businesses. Full page and poster sized advertisements on volunteering with the fire department are placed at local businesses.
What has your department done to reach all demographics in the community?
Social media, local advertising, and career day at the high schools and college.
How does your department support the retention of volunteers?
• Paid physical exam, training, certification exam fees, PPE, and uniforms.
• Paid pension through the State of Texas for firefighters that have reached 55 years of age and at least 15 years of service. The city’s contribution for every firefighter in the pension system is one of the highest in the state.
• Monetary and recognition awards for every five years of service given at annual awards banquet.
• Annual children’s Christmas party.
• Multiple insurance policies (critical illness, AD&D, life) for the volunteers and staff that include family members.
What tips or advice do you have for departments that are struggling with recruiting and/or retaining volunteers?
[Have a] strong presence on social media and in the community in person. Participation in community events demonstrates the commitment of the firefighters.
Anything else you’d like to share?
The volunteer part of the department does not include just the firefighters but also an auxiliary and junior fire department for spouses and children of the firefighters. For 120 years we have been able to provide services to the city and surrounding area, saving the taxpaying citizens millions of dollars every year, due to the encouragement of our families and support by the auxiliary and junior fire department.