National Volunteer Fire Council
Minnesota Representatives to NVFC
Ulie Seal - MSFCA Representative
Website: National Volunteer Fire Council
National Volunteer Fire Council
Fall Meeting - September 5-8, 2012
The National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) held its semi-annual board meeting in Fairbanks, AK, from September 5-8. The NVFC board is comprised of representatives from 49 state fire associations and meets as a group each spring and fall. This year 38 states had representation at the meeting. Below are just a few quick highlights from the meeting, as well as a section about some of the outstanding programs the NVFC has to offer your department.
During the meeting, the board approved the concept of an NVFC-administered national recruitment campaign designed to increase the number of volunteer firefighters/EMS personnel across the country. Recruit USA will serve as a repository for recruitment materials to help departments attract new members as well as include national promotion and outreach efforts to encourage the public to volunteer with their local department. Now that the concept has been approved, the campaign will enter a planning phase. The board also adopted a resolution supporting S. 3441, the Wildfire Suppression Aircraft Transfer Act, which was introduced on July 25 by Senator John McCain (R-AZ) and would transfer excess aircraft from the Department of Defense to the U.S. Forest Service for wildfire suppression purposes. According to an article that appeared in the Christian Science Monitor in July, the Forest Service’s air tanker fleet has declined from approximately 44 in 2002 to nine at the beginning of the 2012 wildland fire season.
In addition, the National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC), through a Fire Prevention and Safety grant, has developed an equipment management template for fire and EMS personnel to track their equipment and apparatus maintenance schedules. The NVFC has also developed four webinars covering a variety of equipment management and maintenance topics. Look for these tools today in the Health and Safety Resources section of the NVFC web site. The webinars and template supplement the NVFC’s fire fighter Health and Safety Priorities. Set forth in a series of B.E.S.T. Practices for the fire and emergency services, the priorities are divided into four main focus areas: Behavior, Equipment, Standards and Codes, and Training. Proper use and maintenance of equipment is a critical component of firefighter and emergency responder safety. Built into a user-friendly spreadsheet format, the equipment management template can be downloaded and customized for your department. The template covers topics from SCBA inspection to EMS supply maintenance to check schedules for apparatus. This tool helps first responders ensure that all equipment, gear, and apparatus meet to safety standards through timely maintenance and replacement. The four webinars focus on different aspects of the fire department equipment life cycle. Whether you are a veteran department leader or a new recruit, the courses offer the latest information on today’s equipment. Training includes Proper Equipment Management, Equipment Use and Maintenance: Developing an Effective Respiratory Protection Program, Retiring Equipment, and Funding Equipment.
To give Minnesota Fire service personnel a better idea of what the NVFC is all about. Below is a sample of the many programs available. Visit www.nvfc.org for more details on many of the programs and initiatives that the NVFC has to offer.
Fire Corps - Fire Corps is a program under the federal Citizen Corps initiative that connects resource-constrained fire/EMS departments with community members to assist in non-emergency roles. This allows first responders to focus on training and operational duties while at the same time increasing the department's capacity and services. Fire Corps members can assist with administration, fundraising, public fire prevention and life safety education, home safety checks and smoke alarm installation programs, apparatus maintenance, and much more. Fire Corps tasks are limited only by the needs of the department.
Resources available through Fire Corps include:
- Free program registration
- Program locator so potential volunteers can find a program and departments can learn about other programs
- Fire Corps Academy, which provides training for departments and citizens who want to start or grow a local Fire Corps Program
- State Advocate Network to assist local fire/EMS departments who are establishing or implementing a Fire Corps Program
- Tools for implementing a Fire Corps program, including resource guides, toolkits, and sample documents
- Tools for marketing a local program
- Preparedness and fire prevention resources
- Profiles of successful Fire Corps programs and exceptional volunteers and how they are helping their local communities
- Fire Corps E-update, a monthly electronic newsletter
Heart-Healthy Firefighter Program - Heart attack is the leading cause of on-duty firefighter fatalities, accounting for around half of all firefighter deaths each year. The NVFC launched the Heart-Healthy Firefighter Program in 2003 to combat this alarming trend through education, awareness, and resources. The Heart-Healthy Firefighter Program promotes fitness, nutrition, and health awareness for all members of the fire and emergency services, both volunteer and career.
Resources available through the Program include:
- Resources for starting and implementing a health and wellness program in your fire/EMS department
- Trade show booth with free health screening and resources
- Health and Wellness Advocate Workshop to train department personnel to start a department health program and motivate their fellow responders to focus on health and fitness
- Behavioral Health Workshop addressing critical issues such as stress, time management, and alcohol abuse
- Fired Up for Fitness Challenge, an interactive tool to motivate first responders to get active
- Information on heart health, fitness, nutrition, and lifestyle choices
- Heart-Healthy Firefighter E-news, a monthly electronic newsletter
- National Firefighter Health Week, held each August to encourage the departments and personnel to focus on health and wellness topics especially critical to the fire and emergency services
- Health and wellness challenges to help motivate your department
- Interactive message board to connect with other first responders looking to become and stay heart healthy
- Webinars to educate first responders about important health and wellness topics
- Securing Sponsors for Department Health and Wellness Programs, a toolkit for finding funding to support a wellness program in your department
- Heart-Healthy Firefighter Resource Guide
- Heart Healthy Firefighter Cookbook
- Success stories from first responders from across the country who have succeeded in getting heart healthy
National Junior Firefighter Program - Getting youth involved in the fire and emergency services fosters the next generation of first responders and creates a network of community supporters of the emergency services. The NVFC National Junior Firefighter Program serves as an umbrella for junior firefighter programs nationwide to promote youth participation within the fire and emergency services community. The program is a powerful recruitment tool for departments and provides youth with valuable life skills such as teamwork, leadership, responsibility, and commitment. The National Junior Firefighter Program provides fire/EMS departments with the resources, tools, and information to help develop, grow, enhance, and promote a local junior firefighter program. Youth can use the program to locate a local junior firefighter program, keep track of their hours of service, and find other resources as a youth participant in the fire and emergency services.
Put It Out - The NVFC, with support from Pfizer, launched the Put It Out campaign to help first responders quit smoking and stay quit. Smoking has proven negative health effects and can cause or contribute to life-threatening illnesses such as heart attack, lung cancer, emphysema, and chronic bronchitis. There are also significant threats to the health of those exposed to second-hand smoke. Helping firefighters lead a smoke-free life is a critical component to keeping first responders safe and healthy. The Put It Out web site provides tools and resources for firefighters and emergency personnel who are ready to take the steps to stop smoking and lead a healthier, smoke-free lifestyle. The web site contains sections to assist individuals in quitting smoking, family members in supporting first responders who are quitting, departments in establishing a no-smoking policy and smoking cessation program, and state associations in encouraging their members to adopt a smoke-free lifestyle. Tools and resources include a ‘quit calendar,’ steps for how to quit, statistics and facts about smoking, sample documents such as press releases and no-smoking policies, outreach letters, motivational tools, and more.
Sound the Alarm - Sound the Alarm is a Fire Prevention and Safety Grant-funded program administered by the International Code Council (ICC) in collaboration with the NVFC. This outreach and education campaign is designed to reduce rural community fire hazards and other potential dangers in residential homes. The pilot program took place in rural areas of three states that were selected due to their high fire death rates. Teams of fire department members, Fire Corps volunteers, and building officials conducted home safety checks, installed smoke alarms, and completed follow-up evaluations. Resources are also available on the Sound the Alarm web site for fire departments and Fire Corps teams that want to execute a similar home safety check and smoke alarm installation campaign in their community. These include a customizable flyer and press release, banner ads, video PSA, smoke alarm installation video and flyer, state-by-state residential smoke alarm requirements, Home Safety Checklist, smoke alarm data sheet, After a Fire form, and safety tips and resources for households.
Wildland Fire Assessment Program - The two-year Wildland Fire Assessment Program (WFAP) is a joint effort by the U.S. Forest Service and the NVFC to provide firefighters with training on how to properly conduct assessments for homes located in wildland fire areas. This will be the first program targeted to volunteers that specifically prepares a firefighter for how to conduct an assessment and what to look for during an assessment, as well as provides departments with the printed materials they may need. Through this program, the NVFC will develop a training course, a toolkit, and other materials for conducting assessments and helping departments determine how close they are to becoming a fire-adapted community.