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Facts: Volunteers Decrease in # of volunteer firefighters

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Presentation on theme: "Facts: Volunteers Decrease in # of volunteer firefighters"— Presentation transcript:

1 Volunteer Fire Service in PA Facts, Myths, Complaints, and Innovative Solutions

2 Facts: Volunteers Decrease in # of volunteer firefighters
300,000 in 1970s 70,000 in 1990s PA State Fire Commissioner Edward A. Mann estimates about 50,000 volunteer today 2,400 fire departments across PA’s 67 counties

3 Facts: Local Government
Municipal governments responsible for fire protection & emergency medical services (EMS) Volunteer fire services save local governments about $6 billion in avoided costs Estimated hourly value of PA volunteer firefighter is $20.51

4 Facts: Funding PA Volunteer Firefighter Relief Association Program and Volunteer Ambulance Service Grant Program Programs provide $150 million a year to volunteer fire service

5 Myths and Misconceptions
Myth: Local services tax funds fire departments Myth: State training requirements hinder recruiting efforts Myth: Volunteer fire departments are in great financial health

6 Myths and Misconceptions
Reality: Volunteer fire departments do not receive any local service tax revenue Reality: Pennsylvania does not require any level of training for state firefighters Reality: Many volunteer fire departments face dire financial circumstances. Local governments must create career fire departments if they lose volunteer service.

7 Complaints and Concerns
Fundraising requirements Dissatisfaction with time spent on fundraising (chicken barbecues, bingo games, etc.) Firehouse politics Bureaucratic red tape (4 month process to replace a lost glove in Montgomery County, PA) Both cited as main reasons for leaving departments

8 Innovative Solutions

9 Retention Exit surveys to determine why people are leaving
Example: Montgomery County, Pennsylvania Fire department reduced bureaucratic red tape after exit surveys frequently cited it as reason for leaving

10 Recruitment: Without Legislation
Shorten application Quick and personal follow up with applicants Establish Citizen’s Fire Academy Market to “millennial” generation Diverse and tech-savvy demographic group Value: recognition, little bureaucracy, friendly work environments

11 Retention and Recruitment: Without Legislation
Selective paging reduces # of volunteers for unnecessary runs Climate & exit surveys to assess retention needs Highlands Emergency Services Alliance EMS and firefighting training to high school students during school Essentials of Fire Fighting and Emergency Response certification Many later serve as junior firefighters

12 Training: Without Legislation
Online training options O’Hara Township Points-based gift card incentive system Awarded points for tasks such as training and EMS shifts Customize training to dept & community needs Montgomery County, Virginia County-wide Volunteer Orientation teaches basics of firefighting & emergency response

13 Community Relations: Without Legislation
Build strong relationships Work with local elected officials & community groups Department tours, better communication, etc Reach out to community for non-firefighting jobs fundraising, financial reports, administrative, etc

14 Recruitment: With Legislation
Create incentives for different age groups Younger: Tuition breaks Middle-age: Student loan forgiveness Older: Length of service awards or retiree stipends

15 Recruitment: Expand FireVEST
Allegheny County Scholarship for volunteer firefighters 65-credit Associate’s Degree at Community College of Allegheny County Covers tuition, fees, & books Must meet minimum 2.00 GPA Must commit to 5 years of fire service FireVEST scholars represent 60 Allegheny County companies and 14 CCAC academic programs 60% current participants have GPAs above 3.0

16 Recruitment and Retention: With Legislation
Implement recommendations in Senate Resolution 60 report Tax and insurance incentives for volunteer firefighters local income tax breaks forgiveness of local fire tax state income tax breaks municipal group medical insurance rates state grant programs local matches for Length of Service Award Programs Albemarle County, Virginia Funds incentives and cost recovery so volunteers don’t spend money to volunteer.

17 Training: with Legislation
Tax foreign fire insurance to fund volunteer training Albemarle County, Virginia County funds volunteer leadership and management programs

18 Community Relations: with Legislation
Establish state-funded regional support network Help with technology, administration, accounting, time consuming projects Restructure Volunteer Loan Assistance Program

19 Planning for the Future
What can we do? As citizens… As volunteers… As elected officials… How can we help?

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