Firefighter recruitment initiative underway

Staff reports

The Louisiana State Firemen’s Association in a collaborative endeavor with the Louisiana State Fire Marshal’s Office announced a new statewide volunteer firefighter recruitment and retention initiative.

The LSFA applied for and was awarded a $980,000 “SAFER” grant through FEMA for the recruitment and retention of volunteer firefighters in Louisiana.

“One of the most pressing problems we face in Louisiana communities is the consistent decline in the ranks of our emergency volunteers” said State Fire Marshal Butch Browning.” Volunteers are the first line of defense in our communities. The LSFA and the State Fire Marshal’s Office are uniquely positioned and have the infrastructure to undertake a statewide ‘Recruitment and Retention Initiative’ for volunteer fire and EMS workers.”

“The purpose of the grant program is to increase public awareness of the role and importance of emergency services and to educate public as to the importance of volunteerism for supporting and maintaining emergency services while bolstering the ranks of both paid professional and volunteer professional fire and emergency service workers,” said Paul Gilmore, author of the grant.

The grant program is designed to run for four years and for an applicant to qualify for the tuition reimbursement of up to $8,000 for a two-year degree and up to $16,000 for a four-year degree.

The applicant must complete the requirements of the grant program by meeting the minimum criteria set forth in the grant narrative.

Applicants must be an active responding, certified member of a volunteer fire department for a minimum of two years.

Certifications may be Fire Fighter I or higher, and/or Medical First Responder or EMT or higher. 

Recruit applicants must complete the academic requirements of a two or four year program in a state junior college, vocational technical school or a state college and receive a degree and diploma for that curriculum. 

Volunteer service and education requirements need not run concurrent, but must be completed within the grant program life cycle.

The LSFA and State Fire Marshal’s Office will launch a comprehensive public awareness and marketing campaign targeted at 18 to 35 year old Louisianans in an effort educate the public, and increase awareness of the need for volunteers, the value of volunteers, and the advantage and benefits of becoming a member of a Louisiana Volunteer Fire Department while furthering their education.

For more information about the opportunity,  visit www.fdla.org, or call toll free at 1-800-FIRE-LINE (800-347-3546) or contact local fire departments.