In 2010, fire and rescue services in Frederick County, Maryland, desperately needed more volunteer firefighters. Director-Volunteer Chief Chip Jewell and his team applied for a 2010 AFG SAFER (Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response) Recruitment & Retention Grant and were awarded grant funds in July 2011. This assisted Jewell and his team in maintaining a positive public image of their local volunteer fire and rescue companies by helping recruit additional volunteers.
“Additional staffing on a fireground equates to improved safety and a decrease of firefighter injuries,” Jewell said. This grant helped to provide 26 local Frederick County fire and rescue companies with volunteers. Many of these newly recruited volunteers continued their training to become qualified firefighters or EMTs to serve their local community.
Previously, the individual fire and rescue companies were only moderately successful in recruiting and retaining their own volunteers. But because of this grant, Frederick County was able to hire a volunteer recruiter who has since worked closely with all of the volunteer fire and rescue companies to hire even more volunteers.
“In partnership with each individual company, over 900 members have been recruited in the last four years,” Jewell said of the grant, whose period of performance ended in July 2015. “The local fire company’s efforts have been supplemented with a target marketing campaign named ‘Gear Up’ in an effort to attract new members.” Additionally, a volunteer orientation program was implemented to provide the new recruits background and initial training to serve their local fire and rescue department.
Jewell says that if additional volunteers had not been recruited, vital response time and proficient use of related equipment would have suffered due to lack of sufficient staffing. Because of the grant, he said, the future of the county services will remain intact.
“This positive initiative will carry on well after the grant closes,” Jewell said. “The momentum gained by the positive relationships built with the companies, combined with the volunteer orientation program that has been developed, will continue to support the local and county wide recruitment programs for the volunteer fire and rescue service.”