Nationwide Need for Volunteer Firefighters Grows: Are You Up to the Challenge?

Did you know that 87 percent of America’s 30,000 fire departments are either fully or partially staffed by volunteers? The peace of mind these firefighters provide their communities is irreplaceable; however, the number of volunteers is declining rapidly. This shortage is threatening the effectiveness of fire departments nationwide, ultimately putting many communities at risk.

Volunteer firefighters act as the first line of defense in an emergency, provide medical services and protect more than 50 percent of Americans, particularly in rural communities. These men and women dedicate significant training hours to ensure they are prepared, often at their own expense.

“Firefighters respond to more than 31 million emergency calls each year – three times the number of emergency responses in 1980,” said Volunteer Fire Chief Timothy S. Wall, chair of the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) Volunteer and Combination Officers Section. “To protect people and property in our communities is an enormous responsibility, but our fire departments are facing many challenges, especially with recruitment and retention of volunteers.”

The decline is the result of fewer people stepping up to volunteer and the average age of volunteers is increasing every year.

Want to help? Considering supporting your local fire department in the following ways:

Become a Volunteer Firefighter

As the need for volunteer firefighters grows, the leading manufacturer of residential fire safety products, Kidde, has teamed up with several fire safety organizations to launch the Step Up and Stand Out campaign. This nationwide campaign aims to raise awareness local fire departments need volunteers in order to keep communities safe and recruit new volunteers.

Recognize a Volunteer in Your Community

Nominate a volunteer firefighter to help your local department earn national recognition and valuable prizes. The Step Up and Stand Out campaign includes a contest hosted on, which invites the public to submit a brief video nominating a current volunteer firefighter or support volunteer to receive recognition for their community service. Submissions will be accepted until May 21, and online public voting will begin in June. Five finalists will be announced in August and a final public vote will then determine the grand prize winner, who will be revealed at Firehouse Expo in October. The five finalists will receive Kidde smoke alarm donations, industry memberships, NFPA Fire Prevention Week Kits and more. The grand prize winner will also receive a $1,000 department training grant.

Be Proactive About Fire Safety in Your Home

Help protect your family and your community’s firefighters by ensuring your home has working smoke alarms. NFPA reports that a working smoke alarm cuts the chances of dying in a fire in half. Ten-year sealed battery smoke alarms, like Kidde Worry-Free alarms, use one battery for the life of the alarm to provide 24/7 fire safety protection and eliminate the hassles of low battery chirps.

On average, families have less than three minutes from the time the first smoke alarm sounds to escape a fire, so it’s important to get everyone out efficiently. One of the best ways to be prepared is to create a home escape plan with your family. Practice regularly – both day and night – and know two ways out of each room. Always remember three rules: get out, stay out and then call for help.

Seven Tips to Survive Amplify Austin from Russell A. Smith of the Austin Child Guidance Center


Your in-box is full and the e-mails keep coming.  The excitement is building but it’s all a bit overwhelming.  We understand.  And we are here to help with seven tips and tricks to get you through Amplify Austin.  As such, thank you to Russell A. Smith, Executive Director of the Austin Child Guidance Center for these excellent tips on surviving Amplify Austin.

1) Go off the electronic grid for the next couple of days (this means Facebook too – one non-profit has figured out a way to get messages to you through Candy Crush).

2) One little known fact is that once you make a donation through Amplify, you no longer receive any more e-mails about the event.  If it doesn’t work the first time, you might have to make another donation and try again.  Repeat as often as necessary till successful.

3) Embrace Amplify Austin by pledging some amount of money to your favorite charity for each e-mail you receive about Amplify Austin (I’d start low with this, limiting your upside risk). 

4) Use moderation as you are watching the leaderboard.  It’s a proven fact that your computer or handheld device will work better if you limit the “refresh screen” to 23 times or less per hour.

5) Breathe deep.  Repeat.  The e-mails will stop at 6 pm on March 6th.  Well, you’ll probably get more e-mails entitled “We did it!”  or “Thank you for Amplifying XYZ!” or “Schedule your 2016 Amplify Donation Today!” but the e-mails should eventually taper off.  Probably.

6) Remind yourself that all of the hoopla is actually in support of a fantastic cause – raising money for hundreds of great non-profits that are working every day to make our community better.

7) Donate to Austin Child Guidance Center (you had to know that was coming) by clicking HERE.


Wanna Prove You are Faster than a Speeding Bullet?

You’re not a bird.  You’re not a plane.  You can not leap tall buildings in a single bound.  But, for some reason you always feel like you could.  Well, now you can.  You can wrangle your inner superhero while being a wonderful influence on your friends and community.  You can join the CASA Superhero Run!

On Sunday, September 30 CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) for Children of Travis and Williamson Counties are joining powerful forces to bring you the CASA Superhero Run!  So, you are invited to embrace your inner superhero and join the fun.  Don’t come alone! Bring your superhero friends, family, and even your superhero dogs and turtles.  Strap your cape on.  Mask your rascals.  And, get on down to Mueller Lake Park and Hanger to get your run on!

CASA wants you to use all your superpowers to make sure abused and neglected children have a voice, have a an advocate, and have a safe and fulfilling life.  I think anyone’s Spidey Sense would be worthy of use in this 5k.

For one Sunday be an InFluence on all those around you. Give a Sunday for a good cause.  It will make you feel good. It will make you sweat.  It will help a kid or two who needs a hand. Oh, and did we mention prizes! See, there’s no reason to pass it up.

For more information about the CASA Superhero Run visit:

To register go to:

And just in case you don’t already own a superhero costume, head to one of these Austin shops to get outfitted: