MSA, DuPont, and the National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) are teaming up for the 10th year to provide state-of-the-art personal protective equipment to better protect the volunteer firefighters who need it most. Through MSA’s and DuPont’s 2021 Globe Gear Giveaway, 13 departments will each receive four new sets of turnout gear along with four helmets to increase firefighter safety. This decade-long program has provided over $1 million worth of life-saving gear to date. Volunteer fire departments “We are honored to have partnered with MSA and DuPont for 10 years to be able to provide volunteer fire departments with needed protection to enhance the safety for their firefighters,” said NVFC chair Steve Hirsch. “So many volunteer departments struggle just to make ends meet. It is inspiring to be part of this program that has helped to properly equip hundreds of firefighters throughout the nation so they can be ready to respond when the call comes in.” We’ve been committed to providing workers all around the world with the equipment they need to help keep them safe" “Protecting firefighters is what we do at MSA,” said Eleni Lucido, vice president and general manager of MSA’s business in the U.S. and Canada. “For more than a century, we’ve been committed to providing workers all around the world with the equipment they need to help keep them safe, so we’re proud to partner with DuPont and the NVFC to provide state-of-the-art turnout gear to departments in need.” Bringing latest innovations John Richard, global vice president and general manager of DuPont Safety said, “Together with MSA, DuPont is honored to support this program that gets the latest innovations in gear to firefighters across the U.S. DuPont, along with our fellow co-sponsors of this program, is committed to fire service and bringing the latest innovations in gear to help protect those who protect us.” The application period is now open. To be eligible to apply for the giveaway, departments must be over 50 percent volunteer, serve a population of 25,000 or less, be located in the U.S. or Canada, be a member of the NVFC, and demonstrate a significant need for new gear. MSA provides NVFC memberships to the first 500 applicants to help departments meet the membership requirement.
The National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC), in partnership with the American Psychological Association (APA) and the Firefighter Behavioral Health Alliance, launched the Psychologically Healthy Fire Departments (PHFD) toolkit to support firefighters and EMS providers and create healthy, successful departments. A new implementation toolkit is now available to help fire department leaders promote and foster health and wellbeing among their members. Maintaining a psychologically healthy fire department provides a positive work environment for responders, while also enhancing the department’s performance. PHFD: Implementation Toolkit The Psychologically Healthy Fire Departments: Implementation Toolkit delves into six categories that leaders should focus on to support well-being and high performance, including: member involvement, health and safety, member growth and development, work-life balance, member recognition and effective communication. The PHFD: Implementation toolkit examines each category along with specific actions that can be taken, special issues to consider, case studies from successful departments and additional resources. “A department that supports its members and is committed to fostering a positive work environment has a healthier, engaged, and more successful workforce,” said National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) Chair, Steve Hirsch, adding “This implementation toolkit will walk fire department leaders through the steps and considerations necessary to make sure they have a psychologically healthy fire department that benefits the individual, the organization, and the community.” Based on Psychologically Healthy Workplace model The PHFD: Implementation Toolkit is based on APA’s Psychologically Healthy Workplace model The PHFD: Implementation Toolkit is based on APA’s Psychologically Healthy Workplace model and was adapted to fit the unique characteristics of the fire service. Fire service leaders who understand the link between the well-being of their members and the performance and success of the department take comprehensive steps to create a positive environment that supports and promotes good health and optimal functioning. “Psychological research shows workplaces that promote good mental health and work-life balance are associated with increased productivity, reduced absenteeism, and higher job satisfaction,” said American Psychological Association (APA) CEO, Arthur C. Evans Jr., PhD, adding “We commend the National Volunteer Fire Council for creating this toolkit and distributing it to its members.” Directory of Behavioral Health Professionals The PHFD initiative is supported by a Fire Prevention & Safety Grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. In addition to the implementation toolkit, resources include a Directory of Behavioral Health Professionals that lists local mental health providers equipped and ready to help firefighters, EMS providers, dispatchers, rescue workers, and their families. The directory is updated monthly as new providers are added and can be viewed or downloaded on the PHFD webpage. A training course to supplement the PHFD: Implementation Toolkit is also being developed.
Carbon monoxide (CO), also known as the ‘silent killer’, is especially dangerous because it is not visible and cannot be smelt or tasted. The only way to protect against this potentially deadly threat is with a CO alarm. In honor of CO Awareness Month in November, First Alert and the National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) have partnered to create an online CO awareness and CO alarm training course for volunteer fire departments nationwide, supplemented by an alarm donation program for communities in need. Online CO awareness and CO alarm training course Aptly called the ‘Protect against the Silent Killer’ training program, the course virtually trains fire department personnel about the prevalence and symptoms of CO poisoning and proper CO alarm installation to help reduce the risk of CO suffocation incidents and deaths in communities across the country. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 50,000 people in the U.S. visit the emergency room each year due to accidental CO poisoning and 4,000 are hospitalized. Awareness of CO poisoning is coming at a crucial time as winter approaches Awareness of CO poisoning is coming at a crucial time as winter approaches. According to the CDC, two-fifths of CO exposure occurs during December, January and February. While almost all homes have at least one smoke alarm, only two out of five households said that they have a working CO alarm, according to the American Housing Survey. Installing CO alarms on each level of the home Current National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) guidelines recommend installing CO alarms on each level of the home, including the basement, and near every sleeping area. “Installing and properly maintaining CO alarms is the best way to keep your family protected against this potentially deadly threat,” said Tarsila Wey, Director of Marketing for First Alert, the most trusted brand in fire safety, adding, “We are proud to play a role in helping firefighters and communities expand their knowledge about CO poisoning and are glad that our educational tools directly impact their community risk reduction efforts.” Information on proper installation of CO alarms As temperatures begin to drop and people continue to spend more time at home, it is crucial that CO alarms are installed throughout the home and that everyone is aware of the signs of CO poisoning. The training provides insight about how CO is created, the dangers it presents, and the symptoms and risk factors of CO poisoning. The course offers detailed information on proper installation of CO alarms, appropriate in-home placement and maintenance. Presenters also emphasize the importance of alarm and battery replacement and discuss the various types of CO alarms. Complimentary First Alert CO alarms Students will receive the donated alarms in 2021 for distribution within their communities To complement the training, the first 20 students, who are associated with a fire or emergency medical service (EMS) department, to complete this course are eligible to apply for 25 complimentary First Alert CO alarms. Students will receive the donated alarms in 2021 for distribution within their communities to enhance the safety of their neighbors. “We value the dedication of all the firefighters and EMS providers who work tirelessly to keep their communities safe from the threats of CO,” said the National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) Chair, Steve Hirsch. Steve adds, “Having access to this comprehensive training, along with First Alert’s generous alarm donation, helps to keep fire departments up-to-date on best practices and better equips them to educate their communities.”
In their second year of partnership with the National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC), Anheuser-Busch has committed to donating more than 1.5 million cans of emergency drinking water in 2020 to volunteer fire departments across the country as they navigate unprecedented challenges. Summer Deliveries Over the summer, the first wave of deliveries totaling more than one million cans were delivered to 150 fire departments across 38 states to help ensure local volunteer fire departments had the resources they need to prepare for the demanding wildfire season. An additional 42,000 cans were delivered to 10 departments that were in declared emergencies from surging wildfires in the west. Support Local Wildfire Following the second wave of deliveries this month, Anheuser-Busch will have produced and delivered nearly 1,630,000 cans of water to 2,534 fire departments across 43 states in 2020 to support local wildfire response efforts in their communities. “We are proud to partner with the National Volunteer Fire Council and deeply appreciate the critical importance of the volunteer fire service – those who selflessly volunteer to protect their communities when they need it most,” said Adam Warrington, vice president of Better World at Anheuser-Busch. “Through our emergency drinking water program, we are able to utilize our production and distribution capabilities to provide necessary resources for members of the volunteer fire service. Alongside our wholesaler network, we will also continue to highlight the efforts and sacrifices of our nation’s brave firefighters.” Partnership Anheuser-Busch supports the nation's volunteer fire service by providing emergency drinking waterAnheuser-Busch teamed up with the NVFC in April 2019 to expand its disaster relief emergency drinking water program to provide critical hydration to our nation’s volunteer fire service. “We appreciate Anheuser-Busch’s commitment to support our volunteer boots on the ground responders in fighting our nation’s wildland fires, especially since many volunteer departments often work with limited budgets and resources,” said Steve Hirsch, chair of the NVFC. “It’s critical that firefighters are well-hydrated to ensure the proper level of response. Anheuser-Busch has been an outstanding partner, and we are excited to continue our relationship together through this invaluable program to support our volunteer firefighters’ health and safety.” Commitment To Support Anheuser-Busch has a longstanding commitment to supporting communities in times of need by providing emergency drinking water and supplies for relief efforts. Every year, the brewer periodically pauses beer production at their Cartersville, GA, and Fort Collins, CO, breweries to can clean, safe drinking water to be ready to help communities in times of disaster through their partnerships with the American Red Cross and the NVFC. Since 1988, Anheuser-Busch and its wholesaler partners have donated more than 83 million cans of emergency drinking water to communities impacted by natural disasters and other crises.
DripDrop ORS (DripDrop Hydration), a globally renowned rehydration therapy company, announced partnering with the National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) to provide the nation’s volunteer firefighters with dehydration relief. DripDrop Oral Rehydration Solution The company pledged to donate 100,000 sticks of DripDrop Oral Rehydration Solution (ORS) this summer to assist volunteer firefighters during extreme heat, wildfire season, and the COVID-19 pandemic. When this donation was met within two days of the campaign’s launch, DripDrop increased the amount by an additional 100,000 sticks. “The speed with which the initial donation amount was reached proves how needed rehydration therapy is in volunteer fire departments across the U.S.,” said National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) Chairman, Steve Hirsch. Rehydrating firefighters working in extreme conditions Firefighters work and train in extreme conditions, losing a significant amount of water" Steve adds, “Firefighters work and train in extreme conditions, losing a significant amount of water. The generous donation of 200,000 sticks of DripDrop ORS will help make sure these firefighters receive the relief they need so they don’t suffer the negative consequences of dehydration.” “No one is immune to dehydration and the effects it can have on our bodies, particularly those who work in extreme conditions like firefighters,” said Eduardo Dolhun, Managing Director and Founder of DripDrop ORS. Eduardo adds, “We are proud to partner with the NVFC and provide these brave heroes with DripDrop’s ORS to help them stay healthy and maintain proper hydration levels.” DripDrop – NVFC partnership The partnership between DripDrop and the NVFC coincided with the expansion of DripDrop’s popular ORS lineup to now include an 80-count, multi-flavor box of berry, lemon, watermelon, and orange flavors. This product is the latest in DripDrop’s arsenal aimed at combating dehydration, a condition affecting up to 75 percent of the U.S. population at any given time. DripDrop ORS improves on the World Health Organization standard for an ORS with medical-grade electrolytes, making it both the ideal rehydration therapy for the general population and a mission-critical tool for firefighters and other public safety and emergency workers.
DripDrop Hydration, a rehydration therapy company, and the National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC), the association representing the volunteer fire, EMS, and rescue services, announces a new partnership to provide dehydration relief to the nation’s volunteer firefighters. The need has never been greater amid a wave of summer heat, wildfire season, and a COVID-19 pandemic that has pushed the healthcare system to the limit of its capacity. DripDrop ORS will provide a one-to-one ‘buy one, give one’ product donation to volunteer fire departments across the U.S. for every 80-count, multi-flavor DripDrop ORS box purchased by consumers. Maintaining proper hydration levels The partnership coincides with the expansion of DripDrop’s Oral Rehydration Solution (ORS) lineup to now include an 80-count, multi-flavor box of berry, lemon, watermelon, and orange flavors. We are proud to partner with the NVFC and provide these brave heroes with DripDrop’s ORS" This product is the latest in DripDrop’s arsenal aimed at combating dehydration, a condition affecting up to 75 percent of the U.S. population at any given time. Volunteer firefighters can request two 80-count multi-flavor packages of DripDrop ORS to use in their department during wildfire response, long incidents, or other strenuous work. Up to 100,000 units of product will be donated. “No one is immune to dehydration and the effects it can have on our bodies, particularly those who work in extreme conditions like firefighters,” said Eduardo Dolhun, MD and founder of DripDrop Hydration. “We are proud to partner with the NVFC and provide these brave heroes with DripDrop’s ORS to help them stay healthy and maintain proper hydration levels, especially as we head into peak wildfire season.” Providing dehydration relief “Firefighters exert an extraordinary amount of energy when responding to long incidents such as wildfires, and dehydration is a very serious threat to their health and safety,” said NVFC Chair Steve Hirsch. “We are pleased to partner with DripDrop to provide dehydration relief to our volunteer firefighters so they are able to respond at their best.” DripDrop ORS was developed by Dolhun, a Mayo Clinic-trained physician, upon return from a medical relief mission in Guatemala. The patented formula he invented is the most efficacious, great tasting dehydration remedy available to consumers, and an effective alternative to IV therapy for mild to moderate dehydration. DripDrop ORS improves on the World Health Organization (WHO) standard for an ORS with medical-grade electrolytes, making it both the ideal rehydration therapy for the general population and a mission-critical tool for firefighters and other public safety and emergency workers.
On June 26-27, the National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) held a virtual preview of the 2021 Training Summit. This two-day online training event featured keynote speakers and panel discussions, followed by breakout sessions to enable participants to ask questions and further discuss the themes that had been presented by that day’s speakers. In-Person Event postponed to 2021 The NVFC had originally planned to hold an in-person Training Summit in Orlando in 2020 but had to postpone the event to 2021 to ensure the safety and health of participants during the pandemic. The virtual preview provided a chance for participants to take advantage of online training and key take-aways for their department now while getting a preview at what will be covered at the full event in 2021. Day One focused on health and safety, with a keynote speech by NVFC Chair Steve Hirsch and a panel of presentations on critical health and safety topics by instructors Brian Focht, Nathan Stoermer, Jack Sullivan, and Keith Tyson. Day Two emphasized leadership and development and featured a keynote by Tom Merrill and a panel by instructors Dave Denniston, Bill Gardner, Robert Leonard, and F.R. Montes de Oca. Each panelist provided highlights from the full presentations they will give at the 2021 Training Summit. Recorded sessions viewing available On-demand The recorded sessions are now available to view on-demand. Below is the sessions list. Keynote on health and safety by Steve Hirsch Keynote on leadership by Tom Merrill Panel on health and safety Panel on leadership and development Registration for the Training Summit taking place May 21-22, 2021, in Orlando, Florida, is now open. Travel stipends will be available to eligible attendees to help offset the costs of attending.
The National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) is pleased to partner with TargetSolutions to provide additional operational training and education opportunities to the volunteer fire, EMS, and rescue community at no cost. TargetSolutions is offering a cadre of 10 online firefighter continuing education courses to all members of the NVFC. TargetSolutions features more than 450 hours of fire department training based on NFPA codes and standards. The training catalog includes awareness and refresher level courses for Firefighter I, Firefighter II, and company officer; fireground evolutions; hazardous materials; safety and health; first responder operations; wildland firefighting; and much more. In addition, TargetSolutions offers an operations management system that enables department leadership to manage training as well as schedule, deliver, track, and report on critical compliance issues. Carbon Monoxide Poisoning The courses now available at no cost to NVFC members are as follows: Firefighting Foams Action Plan Implementation Hazmat Spill Prevention and Control Hazmat Transportation Combustible and Flammable Liquids Pre-Incident Planning Behavior Emergencies Basic and Advanced Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Assessing the Patient with Major Trauma Bariatric Patients stellar training catalog “Online operational training is an important resource in today’s fire service, especially now given the constraints placed upon departments during the pandemic,” said NVFC Chair Steve Hirsch. “By providing continuing education online, departments can supplement their in-person training program as well as provide a more flexible training schedule to their volunteers. We are pleased to partner with TargetSolutions to enable our members to take advantage of their stellar training catalog.” Instructions for taking advantage of the free training available through TargetSolutions are available on the Members-Only web site under Member Resources/Member Benefits.
On June 29, a bi-partisan group of 36 U.S. Representatives, led by Representatives Cindy Axne (D-IA), French Hill (R-AR), and John Larson (D-CT), sent a letter to Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Administrator Alex Azar and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Seema Verma asking that they, “…allow fire departments and EMS agencies to receive payments for providing treatment-in-place to their patients as well as providing these agencies with direct reimbursement for facilitating emergency telehealth consultations.” Emergency telehealth consultations The National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) was one of several major national fire and EMS organizations to support the letter. “I’d like to thank Representatives Axne, Hill, Larson, and all of the co-signers for their leadership on this important issue,” said NVFC Chair Steve Hirsch. “The fact that EMS agencies only get reimbursed by Medicare for transporting patients to a hospital has been a problem for years. The scope of services provided by fire and EMS departments is much broader than just patient transport, and because agencies only get paid for transporting patients to hospitals it creates a significant economic incentive to do that even if other treatment options are available.” “Now with COVID-19, as EMS organizations work with patients and hospitals to treat patients in non-hospital settings where appropriate, insurers need to step up to the plate and figure out ways to reimburse agencies for services rendered, including treatment-in-place and emergency telehealth consultations.”
In their second year of partnership with the National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC), Anheuser-Busch has committed to donating more than 1.5 million cans of emergency drinking water in 2020 to volunteer fire departments across the country as they navigate unprecedented challenges. This month, the first wave of deliveries – totaling more than one million cans – will be delivered to 151 fire departments across 38 states to help ensure local volunteer fire departments have the resources they need to prepare for wildfire season. Emergency drinking water program “We are proud to partner with the National Volunteer Fire Council and deeply appreciate the critical importance of the volunteer fire service – those who selflessly volunteer to protect their communities when they need it most,” said Adam Warrington, vice president of better world at Anheuser-Busch. “Through our emergency drinking water program, we are able to utilize our production and distribution capabilities to provide necessary resources for members of the volunteer fire service. Alongside our wholesaler network, we will also continue to highlight the efforts and sacrifices of our nation’s brave firefighters and raise awareness on the challenges they face.” Anheuser-Busch teamed up with the NVFC in April 2019 to expand their disaster relief emergency drinking water program to provide critical hydration to the nation’s volunteer fire service. Corporate social initiatives It’s critical that firefighters are well-hydrated to ensure the proper level of response" Engage for Good awarded the program a 2020 Silver Halo Award in the disaster prevention/relief category in recognition of the difference the program makes in the health and safety of firefighters. The Halo Awards are North America’s highest honor for corporate social initiatives and cause marketing. Warrington and NVFC CEO Heather Schafer were recently featured on Engage for Good’s Cause Talk Radio podcast to discuss the initiative. “We appreciate Anheuser-Busch’s commitment to support our volunteer boots-on-the-ground responders in fighting our nation’s wildland fires, especially since many volunteer departments often work with limited budgets and resources,” said Steve Hirsch, chair of the NVFC. “It’s critical that firefighters are well-hydrated to ensure the proper level of response. Anheuser-Busch has been an outstanding partner, and we are excited to continue our relationship together through this invaluable program to support our volunteer firefighters’ health and safety.” Commitment to supporting communities Anheuser-Busch has longstanding commitment to supporting communities in times of need by providing emergency drinking water and supplies for relief efforts. Every year, the brewer periodically pauses beer production at their Cartersville, GA, and Fort Collins, CO, facilities to can clean, safe drinking water to be ready to help communities in times of disaster through their partnerships with the American Red Cross and the NVFC. Since 1988, Anheuser-Busch and their wholesaler partners have donated more than 83 million cans of emergency drinking water to communities impacted by natural disasters and other crisis.
On April 29, National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) Chair Steve Hirsch asked President Donald Trump to exercise various legal authorities to assist emergency services organizations in dealing with challenges associated with COVID-19 and social distancing. Specifically, the NVFC is asking the President to: Exercise his authority under the Defense Protection Act (DPA) to encourage manufacturers to produce more personal protective equipment, like respirators, gloves, gowns, and face shields, to help address persistent shortages across the nation. Exercise his authority under the Stafford Act to waive the 25 percent local cost share requirement on assistance available through the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Disaster Relief Fund. Direct the Small Business Administration (SBA) to modify the rules of the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program to make it easier for fire and EMS organizations to apply for assistance. Hirsch sent separate letters to the FEMA Administrator, Peter Gaynor, and the SBA Administrator, Jovita Carranza, providing additional details and offering to work with them directly.
The National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC), in partnership with the Firefighter Behavioral Health Alliance (FBHA) and the American Psychological Association (APA), has released a new directory of behavioral health professionals that are equipped and ready to help firefighters, EMS providers, dispatchers, and rescue workers. Emergency responders are at risk of many behavioral health concerns, including anxiety, depression, burnout, post-traumatic and acute stress, addiction, relationship challenges, and others. Through the Share the Load™ program, the NVFC works to provide resources and tools to help responders struggling with behavioral health issues and to enable departments to support the mental well-being of their members. The new Directory of Behavioral Health Professionals is designed to provide local options for responders seeking assistance so they can get the help they need. Fire service providers with experience or training “Emergency responders are the ones rushing in when everyone else is rushing out, and that takes a toll on behavioral health,” said NVFC chair Steve Hirsch. “Add to that the stressors of balancing the fire service with family life and, for volunteers, another career. It is imperative that those who need help have access to mental health providers that understand the unique challenges and stressors they face. I encourage department leaders to make sure their members are aware that this important resource is available.” All of the providers listed in the directory either have firsthand experience with the fire and emergency services or have completed a training course through FBHA to educate them on the fire service and the specific challenges responders face. The directory will be updated on a monthly basis as new providers are added. Licensed healthcare professionals Information about each provider, their credentials, how to contact them, and what insurance they accept is included. In addition to licensed healthcare professionals, other resources for assistance are also included, such as chaplains and peer support specialists. The directory is part of the NVFC’s Psychologically Healthy Fire Departments initiative, which is being developed in partnership with FBHA and APA and is made possible through a Fire Prevention and Safety Grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. In addition to the directory, the initiative includes a toolkit and training to help fire department leaders promote and support mental well-being among their members. These components will launch later in the year 2020.
Anheuser-Busch and the National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) have been named a 2020 Silver Halo Award winner in the Disaster Prevention/Relief category for the Emergency Drinking Water for Wildland Firefighters program. Keeping firefighters hydrated during long incidents or disasters such as wildfires is a critical need for fire departments, yet many volunteer departments struggle with limited budget and resources. To help departments meet this need, Anheuser-Busch teamed up with the NVFC in 2019 to create the Emergency Drinking Water for Wildland Firefighters program, which delivered over 1.5 million cans of water to volunteer firefighters across the country and will do so again in 2020. Protecting communities from Wildfires “We are honored to receive this award and for being part of this program that both fills a critical need for volunteer fire departments and highlights the amazing work of our nation’s volunteer firefighters as they protect our communities from wildfires and other disasters,” said NVFC chair Steve Hirsch. “We are thankful for Anheuser-Busch’s commitment to support the health and safety of our boots on the ground volunteer responders through this invaluable program.” “Over the past year, we have been incredibly proud to work with our partners at the National Volunteer Fire Council and many of the heroes across the country who are protecting our communities through the volunteer fire service,” said Adam Warrington, Vice President of Better world at Anheuser-Busch. “Together with our wholesaler partners, we are looking forward to continuing to build on this partnership to raise awareness of the challenges our firefighters face and provide critical resources to those who serve our communities.” Corporate social initiatives Presented by Engage for Good, the Halo Awards are North America’s honor for corporate social initiatives and cause marketing. This marks the 18th year that Engage for Good has honored businesses and nonprofits with Halo Awards for doing well by doing good. “This year’s recipients provide tangible examples of effective and innovative purpose-driven efforts and demonstrate the many ways companies and causes can collaborate to create meaningful business and social returns,” said Engage for Good President David Hessekiel.
NVFC chair Steve Hirsch sat down with Side Alpha podcast host Marc Bashoor in February to discuss volunteerism in the fire service, how to stem declining numbers, strategies for recruitment and retention efforts, and the future of the fire service. The podcast is now available for download.
On May 15, 2020, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 6800, the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act, which would provide approximately US$ 3 trillion in assistance, to help the nation deal with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The bill includes a number of provisions to assist fire, EMS, and rescue departments, including: Provides US$ 500 million through the Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) program, for the purchase of personal protective equipment and related supplies, mental health evaluations, training, and temporary infectious disease decontamination or sanitizing facilities and Provides US$ 500 million for the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant program, which provides funding to fire departments to hire, recruit, and retain volunteer and career firefighters. Waives the local matching requirements for AFG and SAFER funding provided in the HEROES Act, for AFG funding provided in the CARES Act, and for FY 2020 AFG and SAFER funding. Eliminates the 25 percent local match required to access disaster assistance from FEMA for pandemic-related expenses. Makes permanent the Volunteer Responder Incentive Protection Act (VRIPA), which exempts nominal incentives that volunteer emergency responders receive as a reward for their service from being subject to federal income tax and reporting requirements. Repeals a requirement in current statute to reallocate and auction the ‘T-Band’ radio spectrum, which many public safety agencies around the country currently use for communications. HEROES Act The HEROES Act as introduced waived the following statutory requirements for AFG funding appropriated in FY 2020 and under the HEROES Act: That grant applications be subject to peer review evaluation. That maximum award sizes be capped based on population protected. That volunteer, combination, and career departments each receive a minimum of 25 percent of appropriated funds. NVFC’s letter to U.S. House of Representatives HEROES Act provides US$ 180 billion funds for ‘premium pay’ to ‘employees’ performing ‘frontline work’ National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) Chair, Steve Hirsch sent a letter to the U.S. House of Representatives, the day after the HEROES Act was introduced, objecting to the waivers due to concerns that they would result in a significant reduction of funding to volunteer fire departments. In response to the NVFC’s objections, the U.S House of Representatives agreed to remove the waivers for the FY 2020 AFG funding, but not the funding appropriated as part of the HEROES Act. The HEROES Act also appropriates US$ 180 billion to provide ‘premium pay’ to ‘employees’ performing ‘frontline work’, during the COVID-19 pandemic. While volunteer fire and EMS personnel perform frontline work, as defined under the bill, they are not eligible to receive premium pay under the bill because they are not employees. Call for volunteer emergency responders to be included The NVFC believes that if the federal government is going to pay people, who are not federal employees for working on the frontlines, during the pandemic, then volunteer emergency responders should also be included. The HEROES Act passed the House on a mostly-party line vote, with 207 Democrats and 1 Republican voting ‘yes’ and 14 Democrats, 184 Republicans, and 1 Independent voting ‘no’. US President Donald Trump has threatened to veto the HEROES Act, and US Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell has indicated that the US Senate does not plan to take it up. COVID-19 relief legislation “There are a lot of valuable provisions in the HEROES Act, and I thank the House of Representatives for their work in developing it,” said Hirsch, adding “I am particularly pleased that the bill would make the Volunteer Responder Incentive Protection Act permanent, resulting in approximately US$ 50 million in annual tax savings for volunteer emergency responders according to the Congressional Budget Office. Hirsch adds, “I thank the appropriators for working with the NVFC to improve the AFG waiver language in the HEROES Act on short notice. The NVFC will continue to work with the House and Senate on additional modifications to the HEROES Act and/or future COVID-19 relief legislation.”
The National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) joined with other major national fire service organizations in asking Congress to provide full funding, $750 million each, for the Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) and Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant programs in FY 2021. The letter also asks Congress to waive local matching funds requirements under AFG and SAFER and to increase flexibility for using SAFER funds to retain personnel in FY 2020, FY 2021, and for any supplemental AFG or SAFER appropriation. The NVFC separately asked the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary, Chad Wolf, to provide those same waivers for the FY 2020 AFG and SAFER funding. The DHS Secretary has the statutory authority to provide such waivers under existing law. emergency services organizations “The budget environment for thousands of emergency services organizations across the nation is deteriorating, due to COVID-19 and related declines in tax and private fundraising revenues,” said NVFC Chair Steve Hirsch. “Fire and EMS departments need help so that they can continue providing quality, life-saving services even as they grapple with these challenges.”
Steve Hirsch, Chair of the National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC), has been named as an advisor to the Small Town America Civic Volunteer Award (STACVA) program. This new national award, scheduled to launch June 1, will honor extraordinary public service volunteers in small localities (under 5,000) nationwide and help shine a spotlight on a growing national problem: a decline in the availability of citizens to fill important public safety and service roles. Advisory team members will help design metrics for selecting the top 100 STACVA national honorees and develop strategies for promoting STACVA nominations by eligible localities across the country. The NVFC is one of the STACVA’s principal co-sponsors, along with the National Association of Counties, the National Association of Towns and Townships, and the volunteer nonprofit organization Points of Light. emergency medical services Civic volunteers are hometown heroes who serve in critical roles including firefighting, emergency medical services, municipal and county councils and boards, and on advisory committees supporting library, recreation, planning, environmental, and other important local government services. STACVA is being underwritten by CivicPlus, the largest local government technology company in the country Public service volunteerism is the lifeblood of small communities and rural counties; however, research shows that the percent of people volunteering in small communities dropped substantially for 12 consecutive years. The primary purposes of the STACVA are to focus national attention on this issue, highlight best practices to spur a new cadre of citizens to fill these vital roles, and support innovative local volunteer retention and recruitment strategies. civic volunteer retention STACVA is being underwritten by CivicPlus, the largest local government technology company in the country. Localities represented by the top three winning honorees will receive cash grants of $10,000, $7,500, and $5,000 respectively. Municipalities and counties represented by the top 100 STACVA nominees will receive custom CivicPlus web sites (and one year of web site hosting at no charge), featuring a unique module offering civic volunteer retention and recruitment resources. The program, which has an estimated total value of over $1 million dollars in donated services and grants, is scheduled to begin accepting nominations on June 1 via the STACVA web site. Hirsch is the training officer for Sheridan Country (KS) Fire District #1, Thomas County Fire District #4, and Grinnell Country Fire Department, all of which are 100 percent volunteer fire departments. first-hand the challenge He has a private law practice, serves as attorney for Decatur Country in northwest Kansas, and is also the attorney for 18 cities in nine counties in north central Kansas. The Barton Russell Group has been chosen to design and manage the STACVA program “I am honored to serve as an advisor to such an important and unique program that recognizes and supports our volunteers,” said Hirsch. “I see first-hand the challenge faced by so many communities in finding citizens willing to serve in first responder and other essential roles.” provide critical resources The NVFC is the renowned nonprofit membership association representing the interests of the volunteer fire, EMS, and rescue services. It serves as the strong voice of these volunteers in the national arena and provides critical resources, programs, education, and advocacy for first responders across the nation. The Barton Russell Group has been chosen to design and manage the STACVA program. BRG has built and/or consulted on several national award and grant programs including the Best Small Towns in America contest, the American Hometown Leaders Award, and the America’s Best Communities competition. Bart Russell, former Executive Director of the National Association of Towns and Townships, founded the Barton Russell Group. He is a nationally recognized expert on “everything small town” - its 32,000 communities and 120 million people.
In recognition of National Volunteer Week in April, First Alert, the most trusted brand in fire safety, is teaming up with the National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) to show their gratitude and appreciation for volunteer fire departments across the country. With first responders facing unprecedented conditions nationwide, the donation of 1,000 First Alert rechargeable fire extinguishers will go to departments registered with the NVFC’s Fire Corps program to help fire service volunteers make an immediate impact in the fire readiness of their communities. Distributing fire extinguishers While millions of people across the country are spending more time at home – and as home cooking increases – it is important to educate the community about the essential role that fire extinguishers play in a home safety plan. For this reason, First Alert and the NVFC have partnered to develop the fire extinguisher donation program, which will allow volunteer fire departments to distribute fire extinguishers to keep homes and families safe. “With more people home and cooking, the risk of fire incidents increases,” said Tarsila Wey, director of marketing for First Alert. “According to the National Fire Protection Association, the number one cause of home fires in the United States is unattended cooking, with ranges or cooktops accounting for 62 percent of home fire incidents. Many small kitchen fires could likely be resolved with a fire extinguisher if caught early.” Proper placement and maintenance of extinguishers Departments should practice recommended safety protocols and electronically share information Fire extinguishers can help save lives when used quickly and effectively. Yet, an astonishing 70 percent of fire extinguisher owners say they would not be comfortable using an extinguisher in the event of a fire according to recent research. The donation program is supplemented by an online training course, which will enable volunteer firefighters to educate their communities on how to properly and safely use this important line of defense. Departments should practice recommended safety protocols and electronically share information with residents under the current climate of social distancing. “When a fire starts, every second counts. Especially with the increase in people in their homes, knowing the proper placement and maintenance of extinguishers – in addition to smoke and carbon monoxide alarms – can help reduce the risk of severe fire incidents,” added Wey. Placing fire extinguishers in convenient locations It is important to place fire extinguishers in convenient locations in the kitchen and garage, and on every level of the home. A simple way to remember how to operate a fire extinguisher is with the acronym PASS: Pull the pin on the extinguisher. Aim the nozzle low toward the base of the fire. Squeeze the trigger. Sweep the nozzle from side-to-side. Carbon monoxide alarm installations The NVFC’s Fire Corps program utilizes community volunteers to assist resource-constrained fire departments with non-operational tasks such as community education and smoke and carbon monoxide alarm installations. The extinguisher donation program will enable these volunteers to equip residents with this important line of defense as well as provide instruction on how to properly use an extinguisher. “We are grateful to First Alert for this donation to help our volunteer departments keep communities safe and decrease the number of fire-related calls,” said NVFC Chair Steve Hirsch. “We also are thankful for our fire service volunteers and the commitment they make to keep their own neighbors safe from threats of fire and carbon monoxide.”
Thanks to Anheuser-Busch, volunteer fire departments who respond to wildland fires can now apply for canned emergency drinking water through the National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) for their immediate or upcoming wildfire response needs. Fighting Wildfires The Emergency Drinking Water for Wildland Firefighters program supports volunteer departments across the U.S. fighting wildfires throughout the year by helping provide critical hydration when it is needed most. “We appreciate Anheuser-Busch’s commitment to support our volunteer boots on the ground responders in fighting our nation’s wildland fires, especially since many volunteer departments often work with limited budgets and resources,” said National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) Chairman, Steve Hirsch. Supporting fire and emergency ground responders It’s critical that firefighters are well-hydrated to ensure the proper level of response" Steve adds, “It’s critical that firefighters are well-hydrated to ensure the proper level of response. Anheuser-Busch has been an outstanding partner, and we are excited to continue our relationship together through this invaluable program to support our volunteer firefighters’ health and safety.” This is the second year of the program, which is an expansion of Anheuser-Busch’s longstanding tradition of providing emergency drinking water and supplies for disaster relief efforts. In 2019, Anheuser-Busch teamed up with the NVFC to deliver over 1 million cans of clean drinking water to help hydrate our nation’s firefighters. This year, Anheuser-Busch has pledged to continue this support through a donation of 1.5 million cans of emergency drinking water to support fire departments across the country. Enhancing firefighters’ safety “Volunteer firefighters selflessly put their lives on the line to help protect our friends, families, and neighbors,” said Adam Warrington, Vice President, Better World at Anheuser-Busch. “We are proud to provide valuable hydration support through our emergency drinking water program to our nation's brave firefighters and to work alongside our partners at the NVFC, highlighting their efforts and sacrifices for the continued safety of our communities.” Departments will have two key opportunities to request water in 2020 to support immediate and upcoming wildfire-related incidents. Application Period 1: March 15 – May 15. NOW OPEN! Application Period 2: July 1 – August 31 Applying for emergency drinking water Departments in a declared emergency due to wildfire will also be able to request water outside of the application periods to help with their immediate wildfire response needs. To apply for emergency drinking water from Anheuser-Busch and the NVFC, departments must meet the following requirements: Responded to wildfires in 2019 and plans to respond to wildfires in 2020 Be all-volunteer or mostly-volunteer (over 50%) Serve a population of 25,000 or less Be located in the U.S. and be legally organized under state law Must be available to accept the water delivery, store requested amount, and utilize amount by ‘best by’ date on package (canned water has a shelf life of 365 days from the packaging date) Demonstrate a need for the water Departments are encouraged to submit one application per year. Subsequent applications received for that department will be subject to additional review. NVFC members will have priority to receive the water donation.
The National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC), the non-profit membership association representing the interests of the volunteer fire, EMS, and rescue services, has announced a partnership with DRONERESPONDERS – the world’s fastest growing program supporting public safety – to help coordinate, cooperate, and co-promote efforts to enhance the use of drones in the pursuit of public safety. Drone Operations The memorandum of understanding outlines the key initiatives under which the NVFC and DRONERESPONDERS will collaborate together to assist America’s volunteer fire, EMS, and rescue services in adopting and perfecting the use of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) to help save lives. “Our members are increasingly interested in learning more about how they can use drones to enhance their ability to serve the public,” said Steve Hirsch, chair of the NVFC. “At the same time, we are also hearing concerns from members about privately operated drones interfering with their operations. Our partnership with DRONERESPONDERS will focus on both of these issues, providing information to the volunteer emergency services about drone operations, and educating public safety and the public in general about the benefits and challenges associated with drone use at emergency scenes.” Drones represent an amazing new capability to help these departments conduct a wide-array of operations" Aerial First Responders The partnership works towards the common goal of enhancing public safety and furthering the capabilities of emergency responders. DRONERESPONDERS was created to unite aerial first responders, emergency managers, and search and rescue specialists to maximize drone operations for public safety. With volunteers comprising 65 percent of the nation’s fire service, it is important to educate this segment of the emergency responder community on this growing technology. It could also benefit departments struggling to meet staffing needs by helping them be more effective and efficient in their operations. “Volunteer firefighters are the backbone of our nation’s fire service, providing life-safety services across most smaller towns and rural communities in the U.S.,” said Charles Werner, director of DRONERESPONDERS and retired fire chief from Charlottesville, VA. “Drones represent an amazing new capability to help these departments conduct a wide-array of operations, ranging from search and rescue missions to structure fires to HAZMAT incidents.” Drones For Good Werner says DRONERESPONDERS and the NVFC will work together to provide resources to help volunteer fire departments adopt and implement Drones For Good™, a program designed to utilize unmanned aviation capabilities in disaster response.