Four-Year Grant Will Significantly Bolster Recruitment Marketing, Resources and Technology

We are pleased to announce that we have been notified by the offices of Senator Chris Van Hollen and Congressman Steny Hoyer that Prince George’s County will benefit from a $699,000 federal grant from the FEMA Staffing for Adequate Fire & Emergency Response (SAFER) program.

All funds will go toward enhancing efforts at the county level and for each of the county’s 37 volunteer fire/rescue corporations.

“With the support of this SAFER grant, we will now have the tools and funding to put into motion our plans for specific strategic marketing, much-needed technology upgrades, and successful recruitment and retention events and training.” Prince George’s County Fire Commission Chair Jay Tucker said. “We look forward to this resulting in the largest positive impact that the Prince George’s County volunteer fire service has seen in decades.”

A grant management team to oversee all facets of the program will be established to include representation from the Prince George’s County Fire Commission, Prince George’s County Volunteer Fire & Rescue Association (PGCVFR&A) and Fire/EMS Department Volunteer Services Command. Additionally, a recruitment advisory group will be created comprised of recruitment team members from each independent corporation. Much of the first few months of the grant is expected to focus on prioritizing projects, mapping out infrastructure growth and developing working groups to support all facets of the grant and recruitment programs overall.

“The men and women who make up the volunteer fire departments put their lives on the line each day to serve their communities,” said Congressman Hoyer. “Ensuring our firefighters have the support and funding they need to do their jobs remains a top priority for me. This grant will provide recruitment support and marketing programs for volunteer fire departments throughout Prince George’s County.”

“This grant will be used to recruit new firefighter/EMT’s, retain the experienced volunteers we have now and to improve the application process of new recruits,” said Prince George’s County Fire Chief Benjamin M. Barksdale. “We appreciate the efforts of our elected officials in securing this grant that will enhance our combined fire/EMS resource service delivery to our residents.”

The key components of the four-year grant include:

  • Recruitment marketing materials including prospective member guides, application kits and photo/video multimedia for countywide programs as well as customized solutions for each of the county’s volunteer fire/rescue companies.
  • Advertising and marketing programs across a variety of mediums including social media, search engines, television, radio, print and events — including recruitment programs aimed at local high schools and colleges plus engagement at community events throughout the county.
  • New resources to support volunteer recruitment efforts including new applicant processing enhancements, tracking technology, added staffing of applicant processing support on evenings, weekends and at individual stations, marketing support and more.
  • Advanced training and ongoing education for county and individual fire station recruitment team members.

Prince George’s County also budgeted additional new funds in FY18 for volunteer recruitment and retention programs, further enhancing the opportunities to recruit and retain dedicated volunteer first responders for new tools, resources and programs.

“With a nationwide decline in volunteers within the fire service, the Prince George’s County Fire Commission and the Prince George’s County Volunteer Fire and Rescue Association, are both tasked with the formulating and executing of effective volunteer recruitment and retention plans throughout the County to help keep our volunteer numbers strong,” Tucker said. “With our volunteer staffing making up over 62% of the Prince George’s County Fire and EMS Department, a successful recruitment and retention program is a key component in providing the necessary services we provide to the citizens of the County.”

The Hyattsville VFD wrote and was awarded the grant as a regional “host” department in partnership with the Fire Commission and PGCVFR&A after experiencing its own success with the SAFER program over the last six years.

“The Hyattsville VFD is excited to host this incredible grant opportunity which will provide for much needed technology, infrastructure and marketing support to the volunteer fire and rescue service across Prince George’s County,” President Thomas Falcone said.

Earlier this year, the website was launched as a central recruitment information center for citizens looking to join one of the 37 volunteer fire/rescue companies in the county. The site will become the hub for recruitment efforts throughout the grant program and beyond.

Untold hours are given by volunteer firefighters, rescue technicians, emergency service personnel, and auxiliaries to fellow citizens of Prince George’s County. It is estimated that this volunteer work saves the County over $50 million annually in salary costs.

About the SAFER Program

The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Fiscal Year 2016 Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) program is designed to strengthen the nation’s ability to respond to fire and fire-related hazards, and improve the nation’s overall level of preparedness.

The Recruitment and Retention of Volunteer Firefighters Activity awards grants to help create a more favorable working environment for volunteer firefighters by increasing the number of trained, certified and competent firefighters capable of responding to emergencies.