New Kent Charles City Chronicle

News for New Kent County and Charles City County, Virginia | September 2, 2014

New Kent Fire-Rescue to participate in program

By Community Member | August 29, 2013 12:55 pm

Virginia Fire Chiefs Association (VFCA) announced that New Kent Fire-Rescue has been selected as one of 14 departments in Virginia to participate in a federally-funded program designed to increase the recruitment of volunteer firefighters.

The Volunteer Workforce Solutions (VWS) program is being led by the VFCA in partnership with the International Association of Fire Chiefs, Environmental Systems Research Institute (Esri), and George Mason University.

Research and data collected by the VFCA since 2004 has shown that staffing is consistently the number one issue facing Virginia’s volunteer fire departments. A survey conducted in 2012 by the Virginia Department of Fire Programs accessment department found that 70 percent of all respondents reported the need for more volunteer firefighters. Because two-thirds of all Virginia firefighters are volunteers, more focus was needed to bolster and maintain volunteer personnel to adequately protect Virginia’s residents and visitors.

“Over the last several years, it has been very tough for many fire departments throughout Virginia to recruit and retain volunteers for a variety of reasons,” said VFCA Executive Director Jimmy Carter in a press release.

The VWS program attempts to identify and mitigate the recruitment and retention problems facing volunteer fire departments while assisting the departments and elected officials in effectively planning their future emergency response systems.”

As part of the VWS program, New Kent Fire-Rescue will use a Geographic Information Systems (GIS) segmentation study to take an in-depth look at their community by measuring demographic, cultural, and economic data to predict the best way to recruit volunteer firefighters. The basis of the segmentation study is that just like people, communities also have unique “personalities” that can be analyzed to identify the characteristics and traits that will attract a viable and sustainable volunteer firefighter workforce.

In addition segmentation information, the VWS program highlights its “Everyday Heroes Campaign” that advertises the right message to the right audience through personal outreach and recruitment events. The campaign also includes one central website, www.EverydayHeroVa.org, to direct prospective volunteers to a respective fire department and to provide other resourceful information.

Upon completion of the VWS program, it will be evaluated by Esri, George Mason University, the IAFC and the VFCA with the goal of providing a roadmap for further advancing recruitment of volunteer firefighters in Virginia. A formal program analysis and report will be submitted to FEMA at the program’s closure.

New Kent Fire-Rescue has approximately 80 volunteer firefighters and would like to recruit 40 additional volunteer firefighters. New Kent Fire-Rescue protects a population of 19,700 covering 223 square miles and responds to approximately 3,500 calls for service annually.

“We are looking for motivated individuals to become part of an elaborate team of professionals to serve the community with integrity, commitment, and the willingness to serve wholeheartedly,” said Jasen Plocharczyk the New Kent County Volunteer Recruitment and Retention Coordinator.

For information, call Plocharczyk of New Kent Fire-Rescue at 966-9618 or contact by email at jmplocharczyk@newkent-va.us.