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 1970s70,000 in 1990sPA State Fire Commissioner Edward A. Mann estimates about 50,000 volunteer today2,400 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 costsEstimated hourly value of PA volunteer firefighter is $20.51
4 Facts: FundingPA Volunteer Firefighter Relief Association Program and Volunteer Ambulance Service Grant ProgramPrograms provide $150 million a year to volunteer fire service
5 Myths and Misconceptions Myth: Local services tax funds fire departmentsMyth: State training requirements hinder recruiting effortsMyth: Volunteer fire departments are in great financial health
6 Myths and Misconceptions Reality: Volunteer fire departments do not receive any local service tax revenueReality: Pennsylvania does not require any level of training for state firefightersReality: 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 requirementsDissatisfaction with time spent on fundraising (chicken barbecues, bingo games, etc.)Firehouse politicsBureaucratic red tape (4 month process to replace a lost glove in Montgomery County, PA)Both cited as main reasons for leaving departments
9 Retention Exit surveys to determine why people are leaving Example: Montgomery County, PennsylvaniaFire department reduced bureaucratic red tape after exit surveys frequently cited it as reason for leaving
10 Recruitment: Without Legislation Shorten applicationQuick and personal follow up with applicantsEstablish Citizen’s Fire AcademyMarket to “millennial” generationDiverse and tech-savvy demographic groupValue: recognition, little bureaucracy, friendly work environments
11 Retention and Recruitment: Without Legislation Selective paging reduces # of volunteers for unnecessary runsClimate & exit surveys to assess retention needsHighlands Emergency Services AllianceEMS and firefighting training to high school students during schoolEssentials of Fire Fighting and Emergency Response certificationMany later serve as junior firefighters
12 Training: Without Legislation Online training optionsO’Hara TownshipPoints-based gift card incentive systemAwarded points for tasks such as training and EMS shiftsCustomize training to dept & community needsMontgomery County, VirginiaCounty-wide Volunteer Orientation teaches basics of firefighting & emergency response
13 Community Relations: Without Legislation Build strong relationshipsWork with local elected officials & community groupsDepartment tours, better communication, etcReach out to community for non-firefighting jobsfundraising, financial reports, administrative, etc
14 Recruitment: With Legislation Create incentives for different age groupsYounger: Tuition breaksMiddle-age: Student loan forgivenessOlder: Length of service awards or retiree stipends
15 Recruitment: Expand FireVEST Allegheny County Scholarship for volunteer firefighters65-credit Associate’s Degree at Community College of Allegheny CountyCovers tuition, fees, & booksMust meet minimum 2.00 GPAMust commit to 5 years of fire serviceFireVEST scholars represent 60 Allegheny County companies and 14 CCAC academic programs60% current participants have GPAs above 3.0
16 Recruitment and Retention: With Legislation Implement recommendations in Senate Resolution 60 reportTax and insurance incentives for volunteer firefighterslocal income tax breaksforgiveness of local fire taxstate income tax breaksmunicipal group medical insurance ratesstate grant programslocal matches for Length of Service Award ProgramsAlbemarle County, VirginiaFunds incentives and cost recovery so volunteers don’t spend money to volunteer.
17 Training: with Legislation Tax foreign fire insurance to fund volunteer trainingAlbemarle County, VirginiaCounty funds volunteer leadership and management programs
18 Community Relations: with Legislation Establish state-funded regional support networkHelp with technology, administration, accounting, time consuming projectsRestructure Volunteer Loan Assistance Program
19 Planning for the Future What can we do?As citizens…As volunteers…As elected officials…How can we help?