First Arriving Helps Answer the Sound of Sirens in South Carolina

Recruitment Program Drives Thousands of Prospective Volunteer Applicants, Videos, Recruiter Resources & More

Richmond, Va. — The South Carolina State Firefighters’ Association (SCSFA) is driving thousands of new leads for volunteer firefighters to departments statewide thanks to a significant, multi-channel recruitment effort led by First Arriving.

Bryan Riebe, Recruitment Coordinator at the SCSFA, said the organization was producing about 40 volunteer leads per month with prior marketing efforts. Now, several months into the campaign, they’ve received inquiries from nearly 2,000 prospective volunteers — and growing. Prior to crafting and executing the campaign, Riebe said the organization knew they needed to do something big to build a stronger pipeline of volunteers.

“Our state firefighters’ association had been watching the drop-off of new members joining the association and the ‘aging’ out of fire personnel on the roles of local departments. Knowing that volunteerism across all sectors in America was waning, ideas developed during statewide volunteer firefighter recruitment and retention workshops propelled us to seek additional SAFER grants for implementing those ideas.:

Funded by a FEMA Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant, SCSFA enlisted First Arriving, a Richmond, Va.-based marketing and technology firm that specializes in fire/EMS and public safety.

The recruitment program, called “The Sound of Sirens,” included the management of social media and search marketing, search engine optimization, marketing materials, content and a brand new hub for all the content created: a new website at The site includes all the key details about volunteer opportunities, but also lead-driving landing pages for each county and full profiles of many volunteer departments. The depth of content will ensure ongoing traffic from Google and other search engines long after the grant concludes.

First Arriving also developed dozens of recruitment related videos, including a five-minute documentary on the state’s successful and growing Career and Technology Center (CTC) Firefighting program.

The effort included the creation of educational content videos for current and future volunteer recruiters — best practices and tips for all facets of the volunteer recruitment and retention process. Recruiters are also being provided templated materials such as posters, postcards and signage which can be easily customized.

Overall, the campaign attracted not only prospective volunteer firefighters, but also generated applications for a number of other volunteer functions in support of public safety, including support and administrative roles. And it is driving prospects to the CTC program which was created by the SC Fire Academy, South Carolina State Firefighters’ Association, and the State Department of Education.

Riebe said he chose the right partner in First Arriving with whom to build the marketing campaign and the digital infrastructure to support all their new volunteer applications.

“There are many outstanding companies providing recruitment assistance, but for me, it is the [knowledge] of the First Arriving team in not only marketing and digital optimization, but also their efforts as front-line firefighters, officers, and recruiters.”

Riebe said the SCSFA will continue the campaign as part of their effort to provide resources and assistance to its 530 member departments

On top of partnering on the recruitment campaign, First Arriving also worked with the SCSFA team to replace their legacy member management platform. First Arriving spec’d the system, supported the vendor selection process, supported the development and assisted in the launch of the system in December 2018. The system includes detailed reporting for all the departments in the state, including member rosters, statistical reporting and financial request processes.

Career & Technology Center Documentary