Results from the NVFC’s COVID-19 Impact on Fire/EMS Survey

The National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) created a survey to better understand the experiences of volunteer and combination fire, EMS, and rescue departments dealing with the outbreak of COVID-19 and related social distancing measures. We ask that you take a few minutes to complete the COVID-19 Impact on Fire/EMS Survey here, and that you re-take the survey periodically (no more than once per week) so that we can track changes over time.

Between March 20 and May 21, 469 surveys were completed. Approximately 69 percent of respondents belong to an emergency services organization (ESO) with all-volunteer personnel, 26 percent belong to a department with mostly-volunteer personnel, and 5 percent belong to a department with mostly-career personnel. Approximately 74 percent reported that their ESO has been adversely impacted by COVID-19, compared with 26 percent who indicated that their ESO has not been adversely impacted.

Respondents were asked to indicate areas where they were experiencing challenges:

3/20-4/16 4/17-5/21 Aggregate data
Running low on personal protective equipment (PPE) 66% 53% 62%
Run out of PPE 25% 17% 23%
Inability to fundraise 45%* 48% 45%*
Staff unwilling/hesitant to respond 47% 47% 46%
Can’t get new personnel trained/certified because EMS education processes are frozen 35% 48% 38%
Concern over mental health of personnel 35%* 30% 33%*
Unable to recruit new volunteers 52%** 48% 49%**
Unable to train 75%** 76% 74%**
Challenges getting personnel tested for COVID-19 18% 20% 18%
Low morale 29%* 22% 26%*
Disruption to junior firefighter programs 24%* 30% 25%*
Personnel in quarantine 12% 18% 13%
Struggling with increased call volume 5% 9% 6%
Volunteer(s) being discouraged or prohibited by employer from responding to calls Not asked 21%*** 21%***

*Question first asked 3/26            **Question first asked 4/9           ***Question first asked 4/24

Respondents are encouraged to fill out the survey as frequently as once per week to report changing circumstances, so the aggregated results include multiple entries from the same respondent. Overall, approximately 19 percent of responses between 3/20 and 5/21 were from respondents who completed the survey multiple times.