National Volunteer Fire Council
National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) is the leading 501(c)(3) nonprofit membership association representing the interests of the volunteer fire, EMS, and rescue services. The NVFC serves as the voice of the volunteer in the national arena and provides tools, resources, programs, and advocacy for first responders across the nation.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, 71 percent of all firefighters in the U.S. are volunteers. This represents approximately 812,150 firefighters. First responders save communities in the U.S. approximately $128 billion annually.
The NVFC provides advocacy for first responders on a national level. This includes promoting legislation that benefits the fire and emergency medical services. Representatives from the NVFC also sit on many standards-setting committees as well as national fire service taskforces, workgroups, and committees. In addition, the NVFC produces tools, resources, and programs to address the needs of the volunteer fire and emergency services.
The mission of the NVFC is to provide a unified voice for volunteer fire/EMS organizations.
This mission is accomplished by:
- Representing the interests of the volunteer Fire/EMS organizations at the U.S. Congress and federal agencies
- Promoting the interests of the state and local organizations at the national level
- Promoting and providing education and training for the volunteer fire/EMS organizations
- Providing representation on national standards setting committees and projects
- Gathering information from and disseminating information to the volunteer Fire/EMS organizations
The NVFC comprises 49 state fire association members, each of which appoints a representative from their organization to serve as the director from their respective state to serve on the NVFC Board of Directors. Many states also select an alternate director. The board meets as a whole twice a year. Each state has one vote.
The NVFC is the only national organization whose sole mission is to support the volunteer fire, emergency medical, and rescue services. Membership consists of 49 state fire associations, as well as Personal, Department, Junior, and Corporate Members.
Personal Membership is for individual firefighters, EMS personnel, or anyone who is interested in supporting the volunteer fire and emergency services. Department Membership is geared to the needs of fire and emergency departments. Junior Membership is for junior firefighters and Explorers ages 17 and younger. Corporate Members include companies and organizations that are dedicated to supporting America’s volunteer emergency services. Each type of membership comes with a range of benefits. A full listing of membership options and benefits is available on the NVFC web site.
Health and Safety
The health and safety of the nation’s volunteer fire and emergency service personnel is a top priority for the NVFC. Each year, first responders are killed or injured due to factors that may have been prevented with the proper safety and health precautions. The NVFC promotes and implements initiatives to keep first responders healthy and safe.
The NVFC Health and Safety Committee developed the Volunteer Firefighter Health and Safety Priorities in 2009 to guide departments on key issues that will keep members safe and eliminate cases of preventable injury and death. These Priorities are set forth in a series of B.E.S.T. practices divided into four main focus areas: Behavior, Equipment, Standards and Codes, and Training.
In 2010, the NVFC was named one of three recipients of the Congressional Fire Services Institute’s Paul S. Sarbanes Fire Safety Leadership Award in recognition of its efforts to improve the health and safety of first responders through the development and promotion of the B.E.S.T. practices.
The NVFC maintains a section of its web site dedicated to the B.E.S.T. practices and to provide health and safety tools and resources to first responders.
Heart-Healthy Firefighter Program
Heart attack is the leading cause of on-duty firefighter fatalities each year. The NVFC launched the Heart-Healthy Firefighter Program in 2003 to counter this trend by providing tools, resources, and information to keep first responders healthy and better prepared for the rigors of emergency response. The Heart-Healthy Firefighter Program, which is supported by federal grants, is the nation’s only heart attack awareness and prevention campaign targeted at all firefighters and emergency services personnel, both volunteer and career.
According to the United States Fire Administration’s (USFA) report Firefighter Fatalities in the United States in 2009, 90 firefighters died in the line of duty in 2009. This is one of the lowest totals in the 33 years that USFA has conducted its annual fatality analysis, and represents a significant decrease from the 118 on-duty deaths in 2008. However, 50 of these firefighters died as a result of stress or overexertion, including 39 deaths caused by heart attack. Heart attack continues to be the number one cause of line-of-duty death for firefighters.
The Heart-Healthy Firefighter Program works to reduce the number of firefighter deaths from heart-related illnesses, including heart attack and stroke. This is accomplished by promoting a healthier lifestyle and by providing firefighters with the tools and information to become heart-healthy. The Program includes an interactive trade show exhibit with free health screenings, an extensive web site, health and wellness workshops, webinars, an online fitness challenge, a monthly electronic newsletter, the Heart-Healthy Firefighter Resource Guide, the Heart-Healthy Firefighter Cookbook, and other resources and outreach efforts.
National Firefighter Health Week
In order to create awareness of important health issues in the emergency services and encourage first responders to take action, the NVFC, through its Heart-Healthy Firefighter Program, launched National Firefighter Health Week in August 2007. National Firefighter Health Week is an annual week-long initiative held the third week in August to educate the fire and emergency services community and the public about heart health as well as a variety of other health and wellness issues that affect first responders.
In 2010, the NVFC Board of Directors created an EMS/Rescue Section to better serve the needs of the volunteer emergency medical and rescue services. While the emergency medical and rescue services have always been an integral part of the NVFC’s mission and initiatives, the EMS/R Section is intended to provide an even stronger voice to EMS and rescue personnel both within the organization and on a national level. The mission of the EMS/R Section is to provide volunteers in an EMS or rescue delivery system with information, education, services, and representation to enhance their professionalism.
The EMS/R Section is made up of NVFC members but has its own leadership elected annually by Section members. The Section can make recommendations to the full NVFC Board of Directors, and the Section Chair sits on the NVFC Executive Committee.
National Junior Firefighter Program
Statistics show that the volunteer fire service is an aging population. In addition, volunteer departments are facing challenges retaining and recruiting members at a time when call volume has more than doubled in the past two decades. Departments across the country are struggling to attract younger members to join their ranks and ensure the future of the fire service. Junior firefighter programs are a great way for departments to gain the interest of potential first responders while they are young and help build the next generation of fire and emergency service leaders.
There are thousands of local junior firefighter programs nationwide. The NVFC’s National Junior Firefighter Program provides an umbrella program where departments and youth alike can find the resources, tools, and information they need to help develop, grow, enhance, promote, and participate in these local programs.
The goal of the National Junior Firefighter Program is to get more youth involved in the fire and emergency services, thus fostering a lifelong connection with the emergency services where they can continue to serve as first responders or community supporters of the fire service throughout their adulthood. Junior firefighter programs also instill life-enhancing skills and values such as leadership, teamwork, responsibility, and community service in the youth who participate.
Fire Corps is a federally funded, grassroots effort to connect community members with their local fire/EMS department. Launched in December 2004, Fire Corps is one of five programs under the Department of Homeland Security’s Citizen Corps initiative. It is administered on a national level by the NVFC, in partnership with other national fire service organizations that make up the Fire Corps National Advisory Committee. Fire Corps is also supported by the U.S. Fire Administration and is funded through the Department of Homeland Security and Citizen Corps.
Fire Corps increases the capacity of volunteer, career, and combination fire and EMS departments by engaging the talents and skills of community volunteers in non-emergency roles such as fire safety and prevention education, administrative tasks, fundraising, public relations, vehicle and equipment maintenance, or whatever the department needs. This frees up department members to focus on training and emergency response, as well as increases the services the department can offer. In return, community members gain a better understanding of the fire and emergency services and become better prepared to handle their own emergencies as well as those of their neighbors.
1-800-FIRE-LINE is a national recruitment campaign that enables community members to call toll-free from anywhere in the country to learn about both local emergency and non-emergency (Fire Corps) volunteer opportunities in the fire and emergency services. The campaign is managed on the national level by the NVFC through Fire Corps. Calls made to 1-800-FIRE-LINE are routed by area code to either the state association in the state from which the person calls or to the Fire Corps national office.
- National Fire Protection Association. The U.S. Fire Service 2009. Accessed February 14, 2011.
- National Fire Protection Association. "The Total Cost of Fire Service in the United States." March 2010.
- Congressional Fire Services Institute. "Fire Service Safety Leadership Award to be Presented to Three Organizations". Accessed February 14, 2011.
- U.S. Fire Administration. Firefighter Casualty Reports. Accessed February 14, 2011.
- U.S. Fire Administration. "Firefighter Fatalities in the United States in 2009." Accessed February 14, 2010.
- U.S. Fire Administration. Firefighter Casualty Reports. Accessed February 14, 2011.
- U.S. Fire Administration "Firefighter Fatalities in the United States in 2009." Accessed February 14, 2010.
- National Volunteer Fire Council. "Latest U.S. Fire Department Profile Shows Aging Trend in Firefighters Serving Small Communities." Accessed February 14, 2011.
- National Fire Protection Association. Fire Department Calls. Accessed February 14, 2011.
- National Volunteer Fire Council
- Heart-Healthy Firefighter Program
- Fire Corps
- National Junior Firefighter Program
- NVFC on Facebook
- Fire Corps on Facebook
- National Junior Firefighter Program on Facebook
- NVFC on Twitter
- NVFC’s Health and Safety Blog
- U.S. Department of Homeland Security
- U.S. Fire Administration
- Citizen Corps