1. #1
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    Default Recruitment and Retention of Volunteer Firefighters

    Hi list,

    SAFER has been released, what is your reaction and what concerns do you have?

    My initial reaction is where do you run into a program with NO Match necessary, this is almost a block grant. That is a great situation; I take it that the Feds are concern about Volunteer Department applying.

    What is your reaction?

    I also have some technical questions, does any know what happens to departments that have implemented items on other AFG before a grant was awarded. What I mean is that our department is looking at doing a Length of Service Award and will most likely do it for the start of Calendar Year 2006. It would be nice if we could do this (especially the first couple of years where you do the buy backs) and have the Feds pay for it. But the way that the grants work (there is no award date announced) is that we may be looking at 8 to 12 months before the award date - best case scenario. What happens if we implement these Awards in January and we get this grant in June - can we move the cost from our operating budget over to the grant?

    How would someone define minimum training requirements in the example of - Entry-level and/or periodic physicals and minimum training requirements - would you say this is FIT test or something else?

    How would you define this - "Reimbursement for attending required training" is it just what it takes to be a fire fighter aka Firefighter I and II or would it also cover the costs if you department activities included boat rescue to reimburse costs for members to take that training which could be used as a method of retention.

    What other activities would people suggest for recruitment and retention if people wish to brainstorm that might be fun.

    How competitive do you think this grant program will be for volunteers?

    My feeling is that the Feds do not think it will be competitive at the same time $15 to $20 K a year would do a lot to encourage recruiting and retention in our community.

    What is your reaction to all of this -

    Be Safe

    S. Kelleher
    QSFD

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    My initial reaction is where do you run into a program with NO Match necessary, this is almost a block grant. That is a great situation; I take it that the Feds are concern about Volunteer Department applying.
    The match in local funds is 20% - 1st year, 40% 2nd, 60% 3rd, 80% 4th, 100% 5th and final part of the performance period for Hiring project only. By not having matching requirements for areas trying to keep volunteers, it's mostly because many areas don't need full or part time paid coverage, they have enough of a base of people, just not enough "encouragement" to come out all of the time.

    Any programs started prior to the award are ineligible as with the normal AFG and FP programs. Considering there is only $65 million available and the application period is over at the end of June, I don't see anyone not knowing one way or the other before December at the latest.

    How would someone define minimum training requirements in the example of - Entry-level and/or periodic physicals and minimum training requirements - would you say this is FIT test or something else?
    Entry level is NFPA FFI in most cases. In Texas the SFFMA (certifies volunteer training) has the equivalent of close to 80% of the NFPA recommendations as the minimum standard for entry. No pump theory or anything, just basic FF skills. Fitness tests, physicals, the usual gammet of tests that are performed to ensure the FF is in good enough of a condition to handle the job.

    How would you define this - "Reimbursement for attending required training" is it just what it takes to be a fire fighter aka Firefighter I and II or would it also cover the costs if you department activities included boat rescue to reimburse costs for members to take that training which could be used as a method of retention.
    FFI, II, Hazmat, Extrication. I doubt they'll put much of a priority on the technical rescues. The reimbursement would be for salaries, room , board, per diem et al to attend training. Not everyone has training centers nearby, so it's tough to send people far away and get the certified training. Costs are high to the department and to the FF's family if work is going to be missed or hotel stays are required. This would cover all of that.

    How competitive do you think this grant program will be for volunteers?
    Depending on the areas and the projects, might or might not be. If the long term budget does not look like it will increase to handle the increase in matching funds over the next 4-5 years, then one can't afford to apply. I think for hiring a paid person, it makes more sense in areas that have a growing tax base and 5 years shows that the area will be able to fully support the paid person. For Recruiting and Retention, you'll have to know why people aren't volunteering in the first place, or why they aren't staying. If you have predatory membership requirements, that barrier will have to be removed before any plan would work. If you drive people off with a case of making stuff up as you go along, playing favorites, etc, etc, then you won't retain many people without changing that environment.

    Being as this is America, nearly everyone has their price. In most areas, people have to work so much to make ends meet, a little pension or something that they have to point to as a reason to join or stay, might be enough. A few bucks reimbursement for attending some other training might be a way to keep the group's skills sharp. Success with this program is going to go to those departments that know their people, their community, and the attitudes towards the department as a whole from both of those entities. As I said in my article, you have to know what you are talking about in these applications. No "I think it's like this", or "we've been thinking this might be a way" statements. You have to know how it is after having checked out the possibilities.

    Good Luck & Stay Safe - Brian
    Last edited by BC79er; 05-20-2005 at 09:36 AM.

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    No reaction yet, but it looks good for volunteer FD's. It's a fairly strict definition of volunteer and combination. I guess that moves our FD into a combination department. The pure volunteer FD's (no finacial renumeration whatsoever) seem to be able to get a leg up in the retention and recruiting end.

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    Question

    Entry level is NFPA FFI in most cases. In Texas the SFFMA (certifies volunteer training) has the equivalent of close to 80% of the NFPA recommendations as the minimum standard for entry. No pump theory or anything, just basic FF skills. Fitness tests, physicals, the usual gammet of tests that are performed to ensure the FF is in good enough of a condition to handle the job.
    Question here.

    Would the purchase of a computer, projector, and full set of IFSTA raining materials fall under this area of recruitment and retention? I know that in the AFG training is a category, but could it fit into this here also? Put this into conjunction with membership campaign, you would get new members and trained much faster than the local county can do it.

    Yours thoughts and opinions would appreciated.
    Always confident, ever vigilant.

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    Personally I think that's a stretch since depending on your area, if you don't have people certified to teach at the required levels, then you can't teach them anyway. Even if you did, if you don't have the facilities available, you can't properly train them either. Luckily, Texas has arranged it so it can be done, and that's the way we run our recruit classes, in-house until Live Burn which is held at the county training center.

    Fire Prevention would allow for everything but the training manuals.

    The SAFER is meant more towards marketing for recruitment, then funding pension plans and the normal disability and workman's comp. Some depts can't afford even that. The retention is aimed at the warm and fuzzies like award programs for achieving certain training levels, and other length of service programs.

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    Originally posted by bukstpsear


    Question here.

    Would the purchase of a computer, projector, and full set of IFSTA raining materials fall under this area of recruitment and retention? I know that in the AFG training is a category, but could it fit into this here also? Put this into conjunction with membership campaign, you would get new members and trained much faster than the local county can do it.

    Yours thoughts and opinions would appreciated.
    I was thinking somewhere along those lines too, but was afraid that training, even though it can be used to boost morale and retain members, was a stretch and possibly out of the scope of the grant.

    My idea was more geared towards junior firefighters though...
    IACOJ

    "And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap it if we do not lose heart."

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    we are an all volunteer dept - 40% of members under 30. thinking of applying for a stipend towards college tuition if course degree is in Fire Science/safety/emerg.mgmt.
    also looking towards retention - getting members staion work gear - sound like a good idea?

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    Tuition/training assistance is always a good idea.

    Not so sure how the work uniforms can be spun into a recruitment or retention program at this particular moment in time, but anything is possible if you sell it right.

    Any eligible application is better than no application in my book.

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    Has anyone considered a picnic shelter and playground equipment? Just thinking outloud here...

    Most of our members are 20's & 30's with children. Sure would be nice for the kids to have something to do around the station. I think it would keep the parents better interested and increase the retention rate as well....

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    While I'll certainly give kudos for thinking outside the box, I'm not really sure that's what they have in mind for a project. Obviously it's more useful than a plaque, but then again if y'all have hills and snow and the plaque is big enough...

    Around here every development has at least 1 playground, so a short walk and we're there versus a drive to the station to hit the playground. And most folks have one in their backyard anyway, they don't want to travel far with the kids. But if you expanded on it a bit, you might have something workable. I do have to enter my doubts about the chances since they'll rank everything that's mentioned in the PG doc higher than that. Limited funding for the program this year, and lots of folks asking for money to hire people, that's my reasoning for the doubt.

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