NORTHERN MICHIGAN (WPBN/WGTU) — Rural fire services in northern Michigan will be receiving some much-needed help.
The Northern Michigan Fire Chiefs Association (NMFCA) was awarded a $350,000 grant to assist the recruitment and retention efforts in rural fire services.
According to the National Fire Department Registry, there are 966 registered fire departments in the state of Michigan; nearly 66 percent of those are volunteer departments and 21 percent are mostly volunteers.
The grant will be used to provide technical assistance to rural departments as well as development of a comprehensive marketing initiative. It will also provide a full-time Recruitment and Retention Coordinator to implement the activities of the project and work one-on-one with departments facing the greatest personnel challenges.
Retired USDA Forest Service Fire Chief for the Huron-Manistee National Forest & Deputy Fire Chief for the Marion Community Fire Department, Chris Peterson, will be serving as the coordinator.
With the previous FEMA-SAFER grant, the association was able to collaborate on a 36-county needs assessment of Michigan’s rural first responders and agencies.
Topics included in the assessment were recruitment and retention of personnel, training and education, emergency response related to the impact of mental health and substance use disorders, critical stress among first responders, quality assurance and improvement, and emergency dispatch.