NVFC Holds Inaugural Recruitment & Retention Experience

The National Volunteer Fire Council’s (NVFC) inaugural Recruitment & Retention Experience took place in Cleveland, OH, on September 17-18. The event brought together close to 100 members of the fire and emergency services from across the country to focus on critical staffing issues to help recruit and retain volunteer firefighters and EMS providers. Many attendees received stipends to offset the travel costs.

A distinguished lineup of speakers, courses, and panels provided attendees with tips, solutions, and best practices to overcome barriers to volunteer recruitment and retention. There were also opportunities for networking and idea exchange so that attendees could share their insights, challenges, and what has worked for them. The agenda included the following sessions:

  • Keynote presentation on Being a Catalyst for Change in a World of Resistance, with Dr. Candice McDonald
  • Keynote presentation on Toxic Leadership: A Wounded Warrior’s Insight, with Master Sergeant Phillip Michael Reynolds
  • Social Media 101 – How to Communicate with Millennials, presented by Jonathan Dayton
  • Preventing Firefighter Disengagement through Work-Life Balance, presented by Dr. Candice McDonald
  • Modern Day Marketing for Your Fire Department, presented by Matt Aalto
  • Leadership is Retention, Retention is Recruitment, presented by Spencer Cheatham and Chuck Flynn
  • Developing the Leaders Around You, presented by Rudy Ruiz
  • Teamwork Makes the Dreamwork, presented by Rodney Foster
  • Precepting: Is it a Privilege or a Right?, presented by Dana Clarke
  • Panel discussion on Leveraging Local Partnerships for R&R, with Ken Brown, John D’Alessandro, Pam Rogers, and Tiger Schmittendorf, and moderated by Joe Maruca
  • Panel Discussion on Marketing and Communications for R&R, with Matt Aalto, Dr. Candice McDonald, Ray Preziosi, and Pam Rogers, and moderated by Tiger Schmittendorf

A networking session and mini expo was held on the first day to encourage idea exchange, and a closing session invited participant feedback to synthesize the information and generate additional ideas and next steps for moving forward with the lessons learned from the event.

In conjunction with the R&R Experience, the NVFC’s SAFER Work Group met in Cleveland on September 16. The meeting focused on the strategy and direction for the NVFC’s recruitment and retention efforts, especially the Make Me A Firefighter national recruitment and retention campaign, and how organizations can best work together towards the common goal of ensuring the future of the volunteer fire and emergency services.

The Recruitment & Retention Experience was made possible thanks to a SAFER grant from FEMA. In addition, registration, one of the lunches, the keynote speakers, and the networking reception and mini expo were supported by corporate sponsors. The NVFC thanks Active 911, California Casualty, E.S.C.A.P.E. Inc., First Arriving, Lincoln Financial Group, Rhino, and Verizon Frontline for their support.

The NVFC’s next educational conference will be the Health & Safety Training Summit, which is scheduled to take place in June of 2022 in Orlando, FL. The focus of this event will be first responder health and safety. Stay tuned to the NVFC’s Dispatch newsletter, web site, and social media for additional details in the coming weeks.

Keynote speaker Dr. Candice McDonald.

Attendees at the R&R Experience.

NVFC Chair Steve Hirsch speaking during lunch sponsored by Rhino.

Rudy Ruiz presenting the session “Developing the Leaders Around You.”

Attendees at the networking social and mini expo.

Panelists for a discussion about leveraging partnerships for R&R.

Panel discussion.
Panelists for a discussion about marketing and communications for R&R.

Keynote speaker Phillip Michael Reynolds.