New online resources to help recruit volunteer firefighters

Per the comments on a recent blog, why you can’t find/keep volunteer firefighters, I was doing research on newspaper articles in the last two years highlighting recruitment problems at volunteer firehouses, and found this recent big news: just four days ago, the National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) launched Make Me a Firefighter volunteer recruitment campaign. Fire departments can now sign up at http://portal.nvfc.org to join the campaign and showcase their volunteer opportunities.

Here is a video from the Make Me a Firefighter.

According to fireengineering.com and the NVFC web site “volunteer firefighters make up 69 percent of the nation’s, yet the number of volunteers has declined by about 12 percent since 1984. At the same time, call volume has nearly tripled. In addition, the average age of the volunteer fire service is increasing as departments are finding it difficult to reach millennials -€“ those within the 18-34 age range.”

To help departments counter these trends and increase the number of volunteers, the NVFC was awarded a SAFER grant from FEMA to conduct a nationwide recruitment campaign. The first component of the Make Me a Firefighter campaign consists of a department portal where fire departments that involve volunteers can register for the campaign and post their volunteer opportunities. Starting August 1, the NVFC will launch a public web site allowing potential volunteers to search for opportunities and connect with their local department.

This summer and fall, the NVFC will also release resources to help local fire departments recruit members. This includes recruitment ads and materials that departments can customize and localize using an online materials generator; tools to help departments reach target audiences such as millennials, women, and minorities; and training to assist departments in conducting a successful recruitment program.

NVFC research has shown that there is strong interest in volunteering among millennials and minority audiences, and helping departments reach these largely untapped markets is a main goal of the campaign.

“Recruitment is a challenge for many volunteer and combination departments across the country,” said NVFC Chairman Kevin D. Quinn. “Yet our research shows that 44 percent of millennials are interested in volunteering with their local department. Many simply don’t know the need for volunteers exists. The Make Me a Firefighter campaign will help build awareness among the public as well as provide departments with the tools and resources they need to recruit to this and other target audiences.”

Hope fire departments will not only use this new portal, but also VolunteerMatch and their local affiliate of the HandsOn Network, such as Hands On Greater Portland, to list their volunteering opportunities. These platforms are widely used by people looking for volunteering opportunities, particularly millennials.

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