Recruitment and Retention projects for SAFER 2010

Why not give back to those members who volunteer their time and energy to the department?


By Sarah Wilson

One of the aspects of the SAFER grant least applied for are projects under the recruiting and retention application. Why not give back to those members who volunteer their time and energy to the department, or provide them with some form of incentive to remain with the agency? Some of the incentives, programs or things you can apply for are:

• Insurance packages such as accidental death and dismemberment, disability, health, etc.
• Reimbursement to the member for attending required basic training
• Marketing costs to recruit new volunteer members
• Explorer, cadet, and/or mentoring programs
• Tuition assistance for higher education (including college tuition) and professional certifications
• Length of service awards and other retirement benefits
• Other items (as long as you can demonstrate it will help recruit or retain members)

With these ideas (and maybe some of your own in mind) below are some tips and things to think about as you put together your SAFER Recruitment and Retention application:

  1. Red flag aka not meeting staffing standards: The highest priority under the SAFER program is to assist departments that are experiencing a high rate of attrition and have staffing levels that are NOT compliant with NFPA standards 1710 or 1720 and OSHA Respiratory Protection standards (see Jerry Brant's article). If your department has high turnover and is having difficulty getting new members to join, you will be given the highest priority for funding.
  2. Pick me, pick me: Departments whose membership is comprised of mostly volunteer members, or that have a significant number of volunteer firefighters, receive higher consideration. You can request new turnout gear as part of this grant for new members after the new recruits successfully complete an NFPA 1582 physical and a Firefighter I course.
  3. You need a plan, man: Departments requesting funding for recruiting or retention programs based on "formal plans" have a greater likelihood of getting funded. You will need to summarize your departments' plan in your narrative and explain how the projects and activities applied for will fulfill the plans. Make sure to designate a project coordinator to implement the recruitment and/or retention program. Keep in mind that this funding is provided for up to four years with no match required.
  4. What will you do when you grow up: Your department will receive "higher consideration" if your recruitment and retention activities are designed to continue beyond the grant's performance period. What is your department's sustainability plan for the project?
  5. We have a low call volume/population: Call volume and population served are both factored into the initial evaluation; however you can show any increased trends by expressing growth as a percentage to demonstrate impact.
  6. Let's get physicals, physicals: Be sure to include costs to undergo an entry-level physical and receive immunizations for newly recruited firefighters. Your department will receive higher consideration than applicants who do not specify that these benefits will be provided (reference NFPA 1582 compliance).
  7. Get bonus points: If you indicate that newly recruited firefighters will meet the minimum fire and EMS certification requirements prescribed by the locality or state within 24 months of appointment to the department, your application will receive "additional consideration."
  8. Play nice with your neighbor: Requests for recruitment and/or retention activities having a regional impact will receive a higher competitive advantage than applications benefitting only one applicant. An applicant may apply for support of both a regional initiative and its department's internal needs on one application.

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