Kansas seeks volunteer firefighters after receiving $1.3 million recruitment grant

A big grant is hoping to bring in volunteer firefighters across Kansas.
Published: Sep. 4, 2023 at 10:29 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - A big grant is hoping to bring in volunteer firefighters across Kansas.

“If not you then who? Somebody has got to be able to do this job,” Steve Hirsch, KSFFA, Treasurer, says.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has awarded the Kansas State Fire Fighters Association over $1.3 million in grant money to help recruit and retain volunteer firefighters.

And now the KSFFA is asking Kansans to step up and volunteer.

“I think people will find this is probably the clincher here, I don’t know that there is anything they can do that would be more satisfying and more rewarding than being a volunteer firefighter or an EMT in their community helping out people when they need it the most,” says Hirsch.

Hirsch says the $1.3 million grant will help maintain the state’s forces.

“We know nationwide that we’ve seen a 20 to 30% decline in the number of volunteer firefighters and of course, those volunteer firefighters protect about two-thirds of the landmass in the nation. They protect a huge swath of Kansas. We certainly know that there are a lot of departments that are having a hard time recruiting. A lot of it is our own fault. We don’t let people know that we need volunteers and a lot of people don’t even know that they are protected by volunteers,” says Hirsch.

The grant is a 4-year project that will be used for recruitment campaigns, physicals, turnout gear, training in basic firefighting skills and leadership training.

Hirsch says anyone can volunteer.

“There are a lot of things that we can do that don’t necessarily involve someone going into a burning building. We still need people to write grants for us we need people to take care of our computer infrastructure all sorts of missions. People that can maybe drive a truck to a fire scene but yet maybe don’t want to fight the fire. There’s nothing more rewarding, nothing more satisfying than being a volunteer firefighter,” says Hirsch.