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Conn. TV Ads Recruit Volunteer Firefighters & EMTs

The Derby (Conn.) Fire Department is about to take to the television to try attracting new members.

Aided with a $36,000 grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the volunteer fire department will soon begin airing commercials on cable television showing what the department does and how one can become involved, Chief Charles Sampson said.

"We don't have a lot of fresh blood coming in, but we have a lot of fresh blood in the city," Sampson said. "It's that influx of new residents that the department wants to tap into."

The grant is awarded under the SAFER program Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response. According to the FEMA Web site, the grant is awarded to provide funding directly to fire departments and volunteer fire organizations to help them increase the number of trained, front-line firefighters available in their communities.

Fire Department officials have met with officials from Comcast Cable to review its schedule to determine when best to run the advertisements, Sampson said.

"We sat down with Comcast to talk about creating a commercial that will air on several different channels," he said. The target audience is young men who are most likely to be interested in the department, he said, and the programming chosen will reflect that demographic.

In addition, the commercials will include information about the city's volunteer ambulance service, Storm Ambulance, Sampson said. "We want to entice inquiries into both the fire department and EMS," he said. The grant is renewable for three years, he said. Also part of the campaign will be the mailing of a CD and brochure to every Derby home with similar information, he said. The department's applications also will be modified with a section asking applicants to list where they heard about the position in order to track how effective the campaign is, Sampson said. That information will be submitted to the federal government as a part of the grant requirements, he said.

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