Fire/Rescue Volunteer Incentive Program (VIP)



Volunteer Leadership Development and Training Program



Messrs. Tucker, Elliott, Davis, Eggleston





March 4, 2009


ACTION:                INFORMATION:   



  ACTION:   X           INFORMATION:   








During the FY09 budget process, the Board appropriated $157,000 to fund the first phase of a Volunteer Incentive Program (VIP). The VIP funding was requested to help ensure the success and sustainability of our current volunteer-based fire and emergency medical services (EMS) delivery system through a multi-layered incentive program.



Goal 1: Enhance the quality of life for all citizens: Enhance the safety of the County.



Fiscal restraints prevent the VIP from proceeding as originally intended. Therefore, the Albemarle County Fire Rescue Advisory Board (ACFRAB) and staff recommend reallocating existing funds in support of a volunteer leadership development and training program, a key module identified in the original initiative.


The ACFRAB and staff propose a change in the parameters of the program with a prioritization of expenditures focused on training and leadership development, allocating $120,000 of the $157,000 appropriated in FY 09 to be expended over a three year period beginning FY09. This strategy allows a component of the VIP to be implemented and helps to support our goal of ensuring the success and sustainability of our emergency service system.


Through a majority vote, ACFRAB tasked the VIP committee to define parameters of the training and leadership development module and established a goal to have 75% of current and new officers participate in the program (about 66 of 88 volunteer officers).


Currently, officers are required by federal mandate to obtain certification in the national incident management system (NIMS - IS100 through IS800). In some cases, the lack of availability of local offerings have made it difficult for officers to obtain the training. Listed below are the results of our NIMS compliance matrix:








Senior Management

14/20 = 70%

13/20 = 65%

11/20 = 55%

8/20 = 40%

3/20 = 15%

Middle Management

11/14 = 79%

8/14 = 57%

7/14 = 50%

6/14 = 43%


First Line Supervisors

35/54 = 65%

28/54 = 52%





60/88 = 68%

49/88 = 56%

18/34 = 53%

14/34 = 41%

3/20 = 15%


Implementation of an incident management training program would allow for 100% compliance on federally mandated training by ensuring adequate local offerings to obtain the training.


In addition to the incident management training, focus groups of volunteer providers have identified additional human resource management and tactical decision-making training opportunities, neither of which are currently offered locally.  Current statistics do not exist under these categories; however, the goal is to have 75% of current and new officers participate in the program.


Implementing the training and leadership module is a proactive measure to address a nationwide retention issue. According to the USFA, leadership is identified as a primary reason for system attrition nationwide.  Over the past year, the Human Resources Department has conducted exit interviews of volunteers, but there are not yet enough responses for statistical significance. However, there is no evidence to indicate that our system is exempt from the national trend.


The VIP committee explored other strategies of implementing a modified incentive program, including utilizing the funds from other components such as tuition reimbursement and / or flexible spending accounts. Utilizing the existing funding for leadership development and training offers the most tangible return on investment, and has the least impact if faced with discontinuation.  While it is understood that the VIP cannot be funded in its entirety, this proposal presents a fiscally responsible approach to continued support of our volunteer forces and maintenance of our above-average retention statistics.


Performance measures will include:

        number of class offerings;

        percentage of officers participating in the program (stated goal of a participation rate of 75% of current and new officers); and

        exit interview data indentifying trends in reasons personnel leave our system.



The revised VIP would have minimal workload impacts on existing staff through FY12. Should the VIP continue beyond FY12 or expand, staff would need to further analyze the program to determine the staffing and financial impact.



ACFRAB and staff recommend approval of the proposed Volunteer Leadership and Development Program and the allocation of $120,000 to fund the Program over a three year period beginning in FY09.



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