In conjunction with the National Volunteer Fire Council, the Oregon Volunteer Firefighters Association is a proud participant of 1-800-FIRELINE, a National Recruitment Campaign. The National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC), representing the nation's volunteer fire, EMS and rescue personnel, has launched a nationwide recruitment campaign in an effort to boost the ranks in the volunteer fire service. Visit www.nvfc.org.
1-800-FIRE-LINE is a toll free number which links interested citizens with volunteer emergency opportunities in their community. This virtually no-cost service is already operational in twenty-three states and several other states are expected to be operational soon.
The NVFC's goal is to have all 50 states online by the year 2000.States that adopt the 1-800-FIRE-LINE number simply have calls placed within the area code boundaries for their states routed to a statewide answering point.
The names of prospective volunteers who call the 1-800-FIRE-LINE number are passed onto local contacts that will inform them about the emergency service opportunities in their communities.Publicity materials have also been developed. Schools and libraries can receive a video about volunteer opportunities and the 1-800-FIRE-LINE program.
Funding for the video production and distribution was donated by the Prudential Foundation.Edward Cohn, Chairman of the Retention and Recruitment Committee of the New Jersey Fire Safety Commission pioneered the program. The state of New Jersey has received more than 2,500 calls in the past two years and Pennsylvania has received 250 calls in the first three months of implementation.CAMPAIGN HISTORY
- In 1994, a group of volunteer fire service leaders from New Jersey met to discuss the problem of recruitment of new firefighters and EMS personnel. From shared experiences, they determined that one of the major problems with recruitment is that the fire service has not adequately educated the public about the need for volunteers.
- Within a year, the committee, headed by Ed Cohn, past Chief of the Ramsey (NJ) Fire Department, started a statewide recruitment campaign for New Jersey. The plan for the campaign was simple: advertise the need for volunteers and give the public a toll free number to call for more information.
- The committee first established the toll free 1-800-FIRE-LINE number and a statewide answering point for it. It then secured partnerships with Prudential Insurance, United Parcel Service, and Marcal Paper, which provided financial assistance to create advertising materials.
- The committee chose several avenues to reach the public with its message. It produced a professionally-made recruitment video targeting high school students which was mailed to all high school and libraries in New Jersey. Road signs, restaurant trayliners, brochures, and posters were distributed across the state.
- Although the campaign was originally designed to promote fire and EMS volunteerism, its scope has been expanded to include volunteer opportunities in search and rescue and the civil air patrol.In 1997, the National Volunteer Fire Council adopted the campaign and it is encouraging every state to join the program
Recruitment and retention of volunteer firefighters has been a high priority of the NVFC since it was organized in 1976. The need to make more people aware of the need for volunteers in the emergency services led the NVFC to make a "Commitment to Action" for the President's Summit for America's and participate actively in the Summit in Philadelphia in April 1997.
The NVFC has committed to work towards expanding the ranks of the volunteer fire service in America from 840,000 to one million by the year 2000. This will be accomplished through the many recruitment projects that the NVFC is currently involved with, in addition to establishing a nation-wide toll-free "hotline" called 1-800-FIRE-LINE.