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North Carolina Association of Fire Chiefs Launches Critical Firefighter Recruitment Campaign

BLADEN COUNTY, N.C. — The North Carolina Association of Fire Chiefs (NCAFC), in partnership with the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC), is launching an urgent volunteer firefighter recruitment campaign across 12 North Carolinas counties, including Bladen. Almost 70 percent of all North Carolina firefighters are volunteers, and that number is plummeting by approximately 11 percent annually, drastically impacting life safety and property emergencies.

“Local volunteers provide the bedrock of North Carolina’s firefighter workforce,” said Chief Tracy Mosley, program manager, NCAFC. “We understand that the safety of our communities relies on fully staffed and trained departments, and based on the success of past campaigns, we’re eager to launch this next iteration to transform our state’s volunteer fire service landscape.”

The campaign is part of the Volunteer Workforce Solutions program designed to help North Carolina’s fire departments achieve a viable and sustainable volunteer firefighter workforce. The program is funded by a Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant awarded to the NCAFC by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to enhance the recruitment and retention of volunteer firefighters.

North Carolina’s two-year recruitment and retention campaign targets 15 at-risk fire department groups across 12 counties in the east, west, and Piedmont region of the state. These departments and counties include:

  • Bladen County: Elizabethtown Fire Department
  • Buncombe County: French Broad Volunteer Fire & Rescue and West Buncombe Volunteer Fire Department
  • Cherokee County: Hiwassee Dam Volunteer Fire Department
  • Duplin County: Chinquapin Volunteer Fire & Rescue
  • Forsyth County: Lewisville Fire Department and Rural Hall Fire Department
  • Franklin County: Youngsville Volunteer Fire Department
  • Harnett County: Harnett County Chiefs Association
  • Northampton County: Gaston Volunteer Fire Department
  • Pitt County: Town of Winterville Fire Department
  • Wake County: Wake County Fire Services
  • Wilson County: Silver Lake Volunteer Fire Department
  • Yadkin County: East Bend Volunteer Fire Department and Fall Creek Volunteer Fire Department

In order to equip the local fire departments, the campaign will entail:

Locally Targeted Research: The fire departments will utilize geographic information systems (GIS) to provide in-depth views of their communities, measuring demographic, cultural, and economic data to predict the best way to recruit a volunteer firefighter workforce. The GIS data offers insights such as what potential recruits do for fun, where they work, and even the likely composition of their families. With this information, the NCAFC can host the appropriate community initiatives and speak to potential volunteers with meaningful, effective messages.

Workshops: In addition, the campaign will offer several leadership workshops aimed at improving recruitment and retention to all departments statewide. Agencies across the country will share data and information learned in order to yield a greater impact on volunteer recruitment nationwide.
In 2018, the IAFC and NCAFC launched a similar recruitment campaign targeting 15 different North Carolina counties. The 168-percent success rate inspired a second two-year campaign to increase volunteer recruits in additional counties across the state.

Being a volunteer is a rewarding experience and one of the best ways someone can make a direct, tangible difference in his or her own community. Volunteer firefighters gain invaluable skills and experience while having a positive, lasting impact on the lives of their neighbors. Local fire departments need volunteers of all skill levels and abilities – from operational firefighters to administrative personnel – who are willing and able to respond to emergencies when needed.

To learn more about becoming a volunteer firefighter and joining a local volunteer fire department, please visit www.VolunteerFireNC.org. 

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