Thursday, March 19, 2009

Massachusetts Call/Volunteer Firefighters Association begins Statewide Volunteer Firefighter and EMT Recruitment Campaign

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Teaticket, MA, March 19, 2009 The Massachusetts Call/Volunteer Firefighters Association’s (MCVFA) Statewide Volunteer Firefighter/EMT Recruitment Campaign begins on March 23, 2009 with the first public airing of public service announcements on both television and radio. This campaign is being partially funded through the federal government's Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant program. The MCVFA was awarded $291,600 in June 2008 to run a statewide volunteer firefighter and EMT recruitment program.
Recruitment of new volunteers is a major and long-standing national problem for volunteer fire departments and small combination fire departments. The MCVFA campaign hopes to raise the awareness for the need of new volunteers and to match potential recruits with their local fire and emergency medical service departments. The Recruitment Program will track how well the volunteer and department have progressed over a one year period. This information will then be reported back the federal government.
Currently, there are about 110 fire departments in Massachusetts that rely entirely upon call or volunteer firefighters and another 160 that use a combination of call/volunteer firefighters and career firefighters. About 40% of all firefighters in Massachusetts are volunteer firefighters; nationally, the percentage is 75%.
The center of the program is a media campaign using both television and radio. Produced by Team Media of Quincy, the announcements utilize fire departments in Lanesboro, Shelburne, Lakeville, and West Barnstable to show the rewards of serving as a volunteer firefighter and EMT. Potential volunteers will be directed to call 1-800-FIRELINE where they will be asked to leave their name, location, and other information. Representatives of the National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC), working in support of the MCVFA, will then contact both the volunteer and the local fire and/or ems departments with the goal to bring the two together.
In Western Massachusetts, the recruitment campaign will focus on using broadcast and cable television and radio advertisements. In Eastern Massachusetts, the recruitment campaign will rely heavily upon cable television in selected communities. The difference in approaches between the eastern and western parts of Massachusetts is due to differences in the distribution of call/volunteer fire departments. In Western Massachusetts, the vast majority of the fire departments are volunteer or combination departments. There are only about a dozen career fire departments in the four western counties. In the Boston Metro area (inside Route 128), there are only about a dozen volunteer or combination fire departments, and in the area from Route 128 to Worcester, there is wide mix of departments.

In February, a series of workshops were held across the state to inform local fire chiefs about the Recruitment Program and to provide recruitment materials and assistance on recruitment strategies. These materials ranged from brochures that can be used locally to standardized application forms and job descriptions.

This program is all about supporting volunteer and combination fire departments and was conceived 18 months ago before the current economic problems were even imagined. The SAFER Grant requires the MCVFA to complete the project by June 13, 2009. The same economic pressures that are forcing layoffs of career firefighters are creating difficulties for volunteer fire departments. Every fire department is struggling to provide adequate staffing and this program’s only purpose is to help volunteer and combination fire departments meet their community needs.

The MCVFA does not advocate the replacement of career firefighters with volunteer firefighters.

The MCVFA is a statewide organization that represents and supports the volunteer fire service in Massachusetts. The MCVFA is a private non-profit corporation. Its membership is made up of on-call and volunteer firefighters. The MCVFA has over 4000 members.

For further information, please contact:

Joe Maruca 508-362-3241

Mike Bird 508-295-2716

Tom Burnett 617-719-1289

Larry Holmberg 413-529-1700

Jim Burnham 413-625-2636

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