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Resources for the Volunteer Fire Service

Almost 70% of U.S. firefighters are volunteers. The U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) is working with our partners to help keep volunteers healthy and safe, and to keep the volunteer fire and emergency medical services (EMS) strong now and in the future.


Recruitment and retention

Recruitment and retention are the cornerstone of any volunteer fire or EMS department. Without proper staffing, fire and EMS departments cannot provide the services and protection their communities need. It is critical that volunteer departments have the necessary tools, information and support to assist in their efforts to recruit and retain volunteers.

The root causes of recruitment and retention challenges have remained similar over the past decade. What has changed is the pace of the contributing factors and the urgency needed to address them.

Focus areas

  • Recruitment and retention challenges
  • Collaborating with local government
  • Recruitment strategies
  • Retention strategies

See also: 6 critical issues facing the fire service (apprenticeship program)

Health and safety

See also: USFA resources on firefighter health, safety and wellness

The volunteer fire service has its own distinct issues related to health and safety. This report identifies resources, provides references, suggests tools, illustrates best practices, and establishes goals and objectives for each issue to help departments improve firefighter safety, well-being and survival.

As a nation, we rely on the volunteer fire service every day to save lives and protect property in times of danger and disaster. In order to do so, volunteers must first be healthy, safe and able to respond.

Focus areas

  • Aging of the volunteer fire service
  • Declining number of volunteers
  • Funding
  • Rural operations
  • Time constraints


Off-campus and online training opportunities

The NFA has many other courses that volunteers can take close to or at home to help meet professional development goals and reduce all-hazards risks to communities. Learn about NFA courses.