To qualify as a recognized Firewise Communities/USA site, NFPA’s Firewise Communities program asks you to document your investment in these Firewise efforts by tracking any expenses, grants received, and especially time spent by volunteers in making your community safer from wildfire.
Communities must show that they have invested at least $2 per resident each year to qualify for recognition and to maintain their status.
So, how do you put a dollar value on the volunteer efforts of your neighbors or your Firewise Board? A web site called Independent Sector can help. This group researches and tracks the value of volunteer time by analyzing U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics information.
If you are a volunteer, you may be surprised to learn how valuable you are! The estimated dollar value of volunteer time for 2015 is $23.07 per hour. Independent Sector’s research group announces these figures each spring. See the website for more about how these figures are calculated.
Volunteer efforts add up quickly! For example, 20 volunteers putting in just 2 ½ hours of their time each year represents $1,127 dollars of investment in Firewise work – more than enough to meet the minimum investment for a community of 500 residents.
You can use volunteer hour value to track investment for different activities.
For example, during your Firewise Day, keep a count of how many people are volunteering and for how many hours during that event. The time volunteers spend to organize, set up, and clean up later also counts.
If you have residents who have agreed to do work on their own property at a certain period, you can ask them to estimate their hours and count that for each person doing the work. See the links to the volunteer tracking forms below.