Volunteer Recruitment & Retention

Firefighter Recruitment Are you someone with a desire to serve your community; someone with courage and dedication who is not afraid of hard work, and is willing to accept the challenge of a difficult job? If you are this kind of person, West Benton Fire and Rescue would like to encourage you to apply. Applications can be picked up at Station 310, located at 1200 Grant Ave.

Our Recruits go through a very demanding 1st year, both in time and effort. The following is a normal schedule for a Recruit Firefighter.

  • September — November: Structure Academy
  • January — February: Hazardous Materials
  • March: Emergency Vehicle Incident Prevention
  • April — May: Wildland Academy
  • EMS training to include a Basic Emergency Medical Technician class will be offered within the 1st year or shortly thereafter.

This may sound like a lot of training, however, the reward is unlike any other! Thank you for your interest in becoming a member of such a great profession, we look forward to meeting you.

Recruitment and Retention Goals

Due to the need of volunteer firefighters in the area served by West Benton Fire and Rescue, our recruitment efforts are relentless. Although there has historically been a core group of volunteers dedicated to life safety, incident stabilization and property conservation within the district, the fluid nature of the workforce requires constant recruitment and training of the new volunteer firefighters. At the same time we need to offer incentive programs for the current workforce to continue the motivations of membership. The objective of this plan is to lay the groundwork to entice members into the fire service in conjunction with the framework that will hold the interest of the active and senior volunteers over time.

  • Increase volunteer force up to 25% annually with an 80% retention rate of new recruits. This will allow for normal attrition due to retirement and change of interest by volunteers and continue providing appropriate staffing levels.
  • Hire a full time recruit and retention coordinator as time and funding allows.
  • Increase active volunteer staffing to meet NFPA response standards.
  • Provide a volunteer sleeper program with shifts and stipends.
  • Build a successful resident program.
  • Train all new recruits to NFPA FFI, FFII and NREMT-Basic within 2 years.
  • Provide incentives for existing volunteers to complete IFSAC FFI, FFII and NR Advanced-EMT.
  • Have enough firefighters available 24/7 to allow us to meet NFPA 1720 and consistent with 2-in2-out response.

West Benton Fire and Rescue is actively seeking recruits to fill the staffing needs of the district. Listed below are several components of the recruitment program currently used but not limited to:

  • Word of mouth

    Although the use of signs and media are effective tools, research has shown that the volunteers that sign up with the greatest percentage of retention comes from being asked by a friend or family member. It is imperative that the current active volunteers and career staff constantly seek and evaluate contacts for potential of joining the fire service. It is with their encouragement and enthusiasm that the ranks grow in a positive and effective manner.

  • Winter and Fall Recruit Drives

    Although we will accept applications at any time, a formal recruiting time will be initiated twice annually. Winter recruiting will begin January 1st and continue through the end of February. Fall recruiting will begin August 1st and continue through the end of September.

    Following these recruit times, new candidates will begin testing, interviewing and processing of the applications, including approval by the West Benton Fire and Rescue Fire Chief. Following approval of the Chief and the background check, the applicant will begin training to become a volunteer firefighter.

  • Community Events

    West Benton Fire and Rescue has opportunities throughout the year to promote itself at a variety of community events. These include, but are not limited to:

    • Farmers Market
    • July 4th Celebrations
    • Chamber of Commerce
    • Leukemia & Lymphoma Firefighter Stairclimb.
    • Fire Prevention activities in the school system.

    All of these activities, and more, are what allow the fire district to be promoted to the public from which we draw our volunteers and must be continually looked towards as a marketing forum.

  • Prosser Chamber of Commerce

    The Prosser Chamber of Commerce is a great resource for contacting new people to the fire district. Flyers in relocation packets and at the chamber office are a good point of contact for new residents to the district. We will initiate this once the recruitment brochures are complete.

As in any volunteer organization the retention of volunteers within the ranks is always a challenge. The key to retention is the ability of the volunteer to feel the sense of value and fulfillment they had envisioned the day they walked in the door to fill out an application. There is no easy solution to the subject of retention as each individual has their own idea of what the purpose of their activity within the organization is. The common thread is always feeling good about their give-back to their community.

West Benton Fire and Rescue has several incentives built into its organization to touch different people on different levels. They include, but are not limited to:

  • Recognition from Peers

    The main driving incentive for most volunteers is recognition from peers. Whether this is other firefighters, community or family, the greatest incentive to continue in a volunteer position is having others that you respect recognize the sacrifice you are making on their behalf, as well as others. It is the job of West Benton Fire and Rescue to maintain a positive work environment that allows for pride in the activities that are engaged in as a volunteer firefighter, and the difference that you are making in the lives of others.

  • Points for Activities

    Volunteers are awarded points for different activities. Drills, emergency calls, outside training and classes, online training, etc. are included in the point's matrix for reimbursement once per quarter. The more active a volunteer is within the fire district, the more they will be awarded.

  • Outside Training Opportunities

    As a volunteer's skill and knowledge evolves, and they exhibit commitment to the profession, they will be considered for training outside the local area. This can include courses in other districts in the local area, courses in other portions of the state, annual conferences, or even attending the National Fire Academy in Emmitsburg, Maryland.

  • VFIS Insurance Coverage

    Due to the fact that that firefighting is an inherently dangerous task, PFD3 has chosen to provide VFIS coverage for all volunteers. This coverage allows for disability payments, loss of life benefit, occupational retraining, and other benefit coverage.

  • Community Recognition / Perks

    The community and businesses in the surrounding area support volunteer firefighters in a number of ways, which add to the incentive to maintain your status of a "volunteer in good standing". Local venues allow volunteers in free or at a greatly discounted rate with their ID cards, retailers offer percentage discounts on merchandise with ID, and occasionally there is other recognition and perks that recognize the positive benefit received from the service given.

To qualify for the incentive programs, all members must meet the following requirements;

  • Have a valid WA State Driver's License
  • Attend 75% of drills
  • Attend 10% of calls

The activity of a volunteer firefighter is evaluated on a quarterly basis. The Training Captain obtains a report in regards to training activity, while the Operations Captain obtains a report on emergency response activity. Volunteers not meeting the participation standards set forth in the Policy and Procedure for one quarter will be subject to a coaching session by the Officer in charge. The second violation will result in a counseling session and the third violation will require a written improvement plan from the volunteer, in lew of termination.

  • Career Firefighter/Recruitment & Retention Coordinator: $260,000
    • This position would primarily be responsible for the recruitment and retention efforts of new and current volunteer firefighters.
    • In addition, they would help fulfill the NFPA staffing standard of 2-in and 2-out.
  • Finishing the living quarters: $10,000
    • This would allow for a volunteer sleeper program, as well as other programs dictated by future growth.
    • We agree to fund the remaining amount.
  • Volunteer Sleeper Shifts: $204,400
    • 4 Volunteers would staff station 310, 7 nights per week from 6pm-6am.
    • This would assist in meeting NFPA 1720's response and staffing standard.
  • Monthly Cash Award for Service Markers: $35,000
    • Assist with retention of members.
    • Encourages members to meet requirements, which in turn ups the staffing per call (also helps to meet NFPA 1720).
  • PPE for New Recruits: $33,000
    • Helps to put 11 new members on the ground.
    • Helps to achieve NFPA 1720.
  • Recruitment: $7,000
    • Professional Video.
    • Brochures

Total asking price: $549,400