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Louisa Fire & EMS chosen to participate in federal study

COUNTY OF LOUISA

Willie L. Gentry, Jr., Chairman Louisa County Board of Supervisors

Robert C. Dubé, County Administrator

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

May 2, 2011

Contact: Keith Greene, Acting Fire Chief

Phone: (540) 967-3491

Email: kgreene@louisa.org

LOUISA COUNTY DEPARTMENT OF FIRE AND EMS CHOSEN TO PARTICIPATE IN A STATEWIDE STUDY ON VOLUNTEER RECRUITMENT AND SUSTAINABILITY

LOUISA, Va. -   The Virginia Fire Chiefs Association (VFCA) announced that Louisa County Department of Fire and EMS has been selected as one of 20 departments in Virginia to participate in a federally-funded program to develop a first-of-its-kind model to achieve and sustain adequate levels of fire and emergency services volunteer staffing.

The Volunteer Workforce Solutions (VWS) program is being led by the VFCA who identified the need for departments in Virginia to seek new solutions to address continuing downward trends in volunteer staffing levels. The VFCA secured the funding from the Department of Homeland Security through a Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) Grant. The VFCA in partnership with the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC), ESRI, George Mason University and 20 selected communities hope to significantly enhance the recruitment and retention of volunteers in the Commonwealth and eventually serve as a national model.

Research and data collected by the VFCA since 2004 has shown that staffing issues in the volunteer departments is consistently the #1 issue facing fire and emergency services departments in Virginia. A 2010 Virginia Fire Service Needs Assessment Survey conducted by the Virginia Department of Fire Programs, found that 67% of all survey respondents reported the need for more volunteers. The VWS program will work to identify and address recruitment and retention challenges facing volunteer departments while helping the departments and elected officials in effectively planning their future emergency response systems.

“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 Chief Jack Jones, VFCA President.  “Most volunteer fire departments are constantly struggling to bolster their volunteer workforce in order to provide the optimum level of protection for residents. The participating departments – and their communities – are really stepping up to provide leadership on this issue, not just for Virginia, but for volunteer fire departments throughout the nation.”

The twenty communities selected by the VFCA to participate in the yearlong effort were based on geographic information, population, fire department statistics and an interest to participate by the community. Ten departments will engage in a Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Segmentation study, which will use technology to take a deeper look at the community’s characteristics and create a future roadmap for recruitment and retention. The other ten departments will serve in a control group engaging in a traditional recruitment campaign through media, promotional materials, banners, post cards, posters, etc.

The Louisa County Department of Fire and EMS is one of ten (10) departments selected to participate in the study’s GIS group, which will take an in depth look at the community itself by measuring demographic, cultural, and economic data to predict the best way to recruit and maintain a volunteer workforce. 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 the will attract a viable and sustainable volunteer workforce. It is intended that these studies will provide a road map for the individual community to show the current state of each community and suggest recommendations that can further advance the recruitment and sustainability of volunteers.

Louisa County Board of Supervisors’ Chairman Willie Gentry (Cuckoo District) said, “It is exciting for Louisa County to be chosen to participate in this effort. Volunteer Fire and EMS providers remain a vital part of our community and this study should help us recruit and retain additional volunteers in our ongoing efforts to reduce the cost of providing core public safety services to our community.”

To assist the VFCA in this very important initiative, Esri’s Tapestry Segmentation system was selected as the vehicle to accurately describe communities by their demographic and socioeconomic characteristics. “Tapestry Segmentation has been used successfully by government agencies, businesses, and organizations to better understand population segments, how to reach them, and serve them,” says Jennifer Schottke, Fire/EMS and Public Safety Policy Specialist at Esri.

About the Virginia Fire Chief’s Association, Inc. (VFCA)

The VFCA is an advocate for leadership to emergency response organizations. The VFCA provides a comprehensive and integrated statewide public safety effort to enhance the quality of life for its customers. The VFCA is committed to providing its members the educational opportunities, leadership skills, and support tools to manage and lead today, and into the future. For more information about the VFCA, please visit www.vfca.us

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