NVFC Focuses on Recruitment and Retention at 2014 Fall Board Meeting

NVFC Chairman Philip C. Sittleburg

The National Volunteer Fire Council’s (NVFC) Board of Directors met in Lafayette, LA, from September 17-19. In addition to Council business, committee meetings, and guest speakers, the meeting included special sessions that helped kick off the development of the NVFC’s new recruitment and retention campaign.

The NVFC board is comprised of representatives from 49 state fire associations and meets as a whole twice a year to conduct Council business and address key issues in the nation’s fire, emergency medical, and rescue services. The fall 2014 meeting was attended by 62 board members from 41 states.

Legislative Committee Meeting

Fifteen NVFC committees met on issues including legislation, standards and codes, health and safety, recruitment and retention, volunteer advocacy, wildland, and international relations. Meetings were also held for the NVFC Foundation and the EMS/Rescue Section.

The board adopted four positions developed by the Health, Safety, and Training Committee on freelancing and self-dispatching, firefighter physicals, age/physical ability, and cancer. The official positions direct the NVFC to work with partners, develop resources, and conduct research. The NVFC also continued to grow its international footprint by passing a budget to attend the 2015 Interschutz trade show in Hannover, Germany.

The NVFC conducted a special election to fill a vacancy on the Executive Committee. New York Director David Jacobowitz was elected to serve.

Drew Lohoff spoke at a lunch hosted by the AOPL/API.

A special lunch was hosted by the Association of Oil Pipelines (AOPL) and the American Petroleum Institute (API). Drew Lohoff, Regulatory Representative from the Louisiana Offshore Oil Port, spoke about the efforts that the AOPL /API Emergency Response Team has undertaken to improve their relationship with the response community and provide additional training and resources. This includes a new Technician – Operations or Awareness certification training program that is available to first responders.

Chief Jeffrey Johnson gave a presentation during the Radio/Wireless Committee Meeting.

The First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) also provided a presentation during the Radio/Wireless Committee meeting. FirstNet board member Chief Jeffrey Johnson gave attendees an overview of FirstNet, which was created by the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012. The law gives FirstNet the mission to build, operate, and maintain the first high-speed, nationwide, wireless broadband network dedicated to public safety. FirstNet will provide a single interoperable platform for emergency and daily public safety communications.

In conjunction with the board meeting, the NVFC held the first in-person meeting of its SAFER Work Group. The NVFC was recently awarded a three-year, $2.39 million grant through FEMA’s SAFER program to develop resources, tools, and customizable outreach materials to assist local departments in recruiting and retaining personnel. The Work Group will provide guidance, expertise, and direction as the program is developed and implemented. Also at the board meeting, a focus group was held with nearly 60 NVFC board members to provide feedback, challenges, and best practices for recruitment and retention to assist in the development of the national campaign. The focus group was facilitated by Eric Bernard, Executive Director of the Montgomery County (MD) Volunteer Fire and Rescue Association. Individual interviews were also conducted with subject matter experts that attended the meeting.

Members of the SAFER Workgroup.

Many board members stayed for an extra day after the board meeting to attend a Wildland Fire Assessment Program (WFAP) train-the-trainer workshop. A joint effort of the NVFC and the U.S. Forest Service, WFAP teaches firefighters and non-operational volunteers how to properly conduct home assessments in the wildland-urban interface to protect lives and property from wildfire and make communities more fire adapted. The train-the-trainer workshop enables participants to take the course back to their state and departments to train local first responders. NVFC’s Washington State Alternate Director Ron Roy taught the course.

The NVFC thanks host Louisiana State Firemen’s Association and all of the sponsors of the 2014 Spring Meeting: Provident, NFPA, California Casualty, American Petroleum Institute, Association of Oil Pipe Lines, McNeil & Co., and The Pennsylvania Fireman. The next NVFC board meeting will take place April 17-18, 2015, in Alexandria, VA.