SAFER

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The Faces of Volunteers

Today’s Woman Volunteer

Do You Have What It Takes?

Start your local recruitment campaign today. It’s easy. The form for a local campaign is here:  Ohio Volunteer Fire Department Local Recruitment Application. Our SAFER contact is Kate Redden with the Redden Group. Completed forms are to be sent to her attention at Kate@VolunteerFirefighter.org. Kate can also be reached at 855-VOL-FIRE if you have questions regarding a volunteer firefighter recruiting campaign in your area.

OFCA Volunteer Firefighter Retention and Recruitment Campaign

Do you have what it takes? Serve your community by becoming a volunteer firefighter. To discover what it takes to be a part of of this volunteer opportunity, click here.

OFCA has been awarded a 4-year Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant in the amount of $1,195,700. The SAFER grant aims to retain and recruit additional volunteer firefighters throughout Ohio communities. This grant was awarded to help you increase the number of total volunteers in your department and will be successful if all Ohio fire service leaders work together to take full advantage of the opportunities included in the grant.

Why Is This Campaign Needed? 

Throughout rural Ohio, citizens and current firefighters are at risk because of the lack of volunteer firefighters to adequately protect people and property from fire and fire-related hazards.  As call volume increases, more departments depend on volunteer firefighters. Throughout Ohio, 80 percent of the fire departments depend on volunteer firefighters to sustain operations.  In order to comply with National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) standards, the Ohio fire service must increase the number of volunteer firefighters by 30 percent.

OFCA attributes the volunteer recruitment problem to the lack of communication between the fire service and the public.  The public does not realize there is a need for volunteer firefighters and does not know where to obtain more information about becoming a volunteer firefighter. 

The retention problem can also be attributed to the lack of resources available to volunteer fire department leaders.  Many fire service leaders lack the experience and knowledge to effectively implement a local plan to retain and recruit volunteer firefighters.  To turnaround the declining trend of volunteer firefighters, OFCA was awarded a two-part recruitment and retention SAFER grant.

How Will the Grant Funds Be Spent? 

The grant funds will be used to implement a two-part program.  The first part is a volunteer recruitment marketing campaign focused on raising awareness about the need for volunteer firefighters.   The integrated marketing campaign will be modeled after the successful campaigns designed and implemented in Alaska, Idaho, and California.  OFCA will implement the same components that were successful in these campaigns, such as television commercials, printed material, online Facebook ads, and an interactive web site with an application distribution process.

OFCA will track responses and collect applications from prospective volunteers, then send the information about the prospective volunteers to local fire service leaders in the respective area.  Throughout the next 4 years, the marketing campaign should generate more than 3,500 responses from prospective volunteers.

The second part of the retention and recruitment plan is the Fire Service Leader Training Program.  Over the course of the next 4 years, 16 two-day workshops will be held throughout the state for 400 volunteer fire service leaders.  All travel and expenses to attend the workshops will be reimbursed with the grant funds.  Qualified instructors with recruitment and retention experience will lead the workshops.  The subject matter will include material from the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA), the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC), and the National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) and will include the following topics:

  • collecting and reviewing volunteer applications
  • improving interviewing techniques
  • describing expectations
  • evaluating prospects
  • motivating new volunteers
  • creating a cohesive environment
  • anticipating retention challenges
  • rewarding performance with incentives 
  • implementing a local recruiting campaign

Together, the marketing campaign and training program will complement each other as the program focuses on the volunteer process from beginning to end.  Implementing the entire program at once will provide a more time-efficient and cost-effective initiative.

What Is Your Role?

This project depends on the active participation of Ohio’s fire service leaders.  By attending the training and quickly responding to volunteer inquiries and applications, you can help increase the number of volunteer firefighters in your area and retain those valuable volunteers already protecting your communities.  Your role can be summed up in three easy steps:

  1. Respond to all potential volunteer applicants within 1 week of receiving the application from info@ohiofirechiefs.org.
  2. Complete the follow-up surveys to report the status of each volunteer applicant.

SAFER grant funding is being provided by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and OFCA has the responsibility to report all of the grant activities and the final results of these activities.

Who Will Manage the Campaign?

Kate Redden is the OFCA Project Manager.Kate’s eagerness to serve her clients and organizational skills have allowed her to be very successful in managing several grants at Adapt Management. Her experience in business management is of added value to the company and the projects they manage. In her time with the Adapt Management, Kate has worked with managing association, law enforcement, and SAFER grants.

Adapt Management provides associations like ours the tools to apply for and manage these SAFER grants. Adapt Management team is available to help all OFCA members obtain and manage additional SAFER grants.  You can learn more by emailing Kate Redden kate@adaptmanagement.org, calling 208-345-5109, or visiting the Redden Group’s web site at www.adaptmanagement.org.