Featured Twitter Chat: TIM Volunteers

National Volunteer Week 2015 took place April 12-18. In support of this, we chatted with the National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) via Twitter about traffic incident management (TIM) volunteers: the U.S. relies on volunteer firefighters and emergency medical technicians (EMTs) to deliver TIM but, in recent years, TIM volunteers have been decreasing, while the need has been increasing. T.J. Nedrow, a member of the NVFC Executive Committee and a National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 1091 Committee Member, was our featured guest and offered insight on several topics: the role of volunteer firefighters and EMTs, statistics on their declining numbers, and ideas to keep the fire service strong.

Here are several of the highlights discussed during this Chat, which can be viewed here: https://storify.com/TheTIMNetwork/national-volunteer-fire-council-chat-4-15-15.

  • Volunteers are critical to the fire service, comprising 69% of all firefighters. These volunteers fight fires, respond to EMS calls, conduct search and rescue, perform TIM, and much more. Volunteers can be used in every aspect of the department and can be trained in different areas. Each individual doesn’t have to do it all. Find what role fits each person best.
  • There are 786,000 volunteer firefighters in the U.S., making up 69% of the fire service. Volunteers save communities $140 billion/year. However, the number of volunteer firefighters has declined by 12% in the past 20 years. At the same time, this group is aging.
  • To address this need, it is critical that we focus on recruitment and retention to keep the volunteer fire service strong. In fact, NVFC unveiled its new SAFER-funded recruitment campaign to help departments. (Read more: http://www.nvfc.org/general-news/nvfc-unveils-recruitment-campaign-elects-officers-at-2015-spring-board-meeting).
  • The SHRP2 National TIM Responder Training Program offers a 4-hour class that does not demand extensive time or travel. And online TIM training is available through the SHRP2 program and fits any schedule (http://1.usa.gov/1JKVOts). TIM should be incorporated into regular department training.
  • Consider inviting TIM partners for coffee. Let them know you care, and get the conversation going before the next incident occurs.
  • NFPA 1091 is the standard for Traffic Control Incident Management Professional Qualifications. It is the first time instructions for approaching traffic safety are spelled out. NFPA 1091 puts the focus on the importance of TIM safety and applies to many disciplines.
  • When it comes to effective incident response, know all of your mile markers, exits, median turnarounds, obstructions, etc. And even the smallest things count on the Interstate, such as keeping shoulders clear of debris.

We thank NVFC, T.J., and the other participants for their time to discuss this important topic.

If you are interested in the topic of recruiting and retaining volunteers, please check out these two articles: