Recruitment and Retention Planning and Funding

Recruitment and retention is hard work but with the right plan and the right attitude any department can be successful. The NVFC has developed some resources to help guide departments through the process of developing and funding a recruitment and retention plan. Information about Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) Recruitment and Retention (R&R) grants is included.

Conduct a Recruitment and Retention Needs Assessment

Before developing a R&R plan, you should have a clear understanding of what your department’s unmet staffing needs are. If your department has not recently performed a R&R needs assessment, this is a good place to start. A R&R needs assessment doesn’t have to be overwhelming or complicated. It can be a simple exercise to help you understand what your R&R goals should be.

Click here for more information on developing a R&R needs assessment.

Develop a Recruitment and Retention Plan

The next step is to develop (or update) a recruitment and retention plan. Focus on retention first. Are you getting the most out of existing staff? Are there strategies you can employ to limit staff turnover? If you are maximizing existing staff and still need more volunteers, develop a plan to recruit additional personnel.

Click here for more information on how to develop a R&R Plan.

Apply for a SAFER R&R Grant

The Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant program was created to provide funding directly to fire departments and volunteer firefighter interest organizations to help them increase or maintain the number of trained, “front line” firefighters available in their communities. Through SAFER, volunteer and combination fire departments are eligible to apply for funding to recruit and retain volunteer firefighters.

Click here for information on how to apply for SAFER funding.

Click here for an overview of highlights from the Notice of Funding Opportunity for the FY 2016 SAFER grant program, including new grant criteria.

Success Stories

SAFER has been around for more than a decade and you may benefit from learning how past grantees were able to use R&R funding to bolster their staffing. Click here to view SAFER Success Snapshots.

Understanding Expectations

Before you apply for a SAFER grant you should understand the expectations that FEMA has for grantees. Do you have a good procurement policy? Do you have a process for maintaining important files? What happens if you need to amend your grant request? It is not critical that you have a detailed understanding of all facets of implementing a SAFER grant before you apply, but it is a good idea to have some familiarity so that you know what you are getting yourself into.

Click here to review the FEMA FY 2014 and FY 2015 SAFER Grant User Guide.

Use the NVFC’s Make Me A Firefighter Campaign

Make Me A Firefighter™ is a national recruitment campaign with ready-to-use, customizable resources and tools. There’s no need for departments to reinvent the wheel when it comes to recruitment since the NVFC has created a research-based program designed to produce results.

Click here to learn more about how to use Make Me A Firefighter in your SAFER grant application and sign up to participate in the campaign here.

Get Help

The NVFC appoints representatives to the peer review panels that rank SAFER grant applications. While we do not offer grant-writing services we are happy to connect NVFC members with peer reviewers to answer questions about the grant process or give feedback on portions of a grant application.

Click here to connect with a NVFC peer reviewer

FEMA maintains a Help Desk to help grant applicants and awardees. You can contact the Help Desk at 1-866-274-0960 or

Register for free at and learn about the various resources that they offer. NVFC members get a discount on grant-writing services.