Membership Frequently Asked Questions
How do I become a member of SFFMA?
You must first decide which membership will suit you best. There are several different types of memberships: Department, Individual, Individual Department-Paid, EMS, Industrial, Sustaining, Organization, and International.
What's the difference between an Individual membership and an Individual Department-Paid membership?
Individual membership is for anyone who wants to be a part of SFFMA. You don’t have to belong to a fire department, or be in the fire service at all. To be an individual member you must pay $30 per year in membership dues. This ensures that you are eligible for SFFMA membership benefits (benefits list available under Membership Benefits). However, you cannot participate in the certification program and are not eligible for the NVFC (National Volunteer Fire Council) membership and the additional insurance policy offered through NVFC.
An Individual Department-Paid membership is a little bit different in that you must be a member on a department roster. That means that the department pays an annual fee, depending on the size of their township, in addition to the $30 per individual. This ensures that you are eligible to participate in the Certification Program and get the optional benefits.
Remember that SFFMA membership for a fire department requires chief approval and verification. Not everyone on the fire department has to join either. Departments sometimes have many members and only some of them want to join SFFMA, that’s fine too. They may join at any time that they want. As long as the department pays the annual fee and the individual dues for each person, they can add members and be an active department in SFFMA.
What is an EMS membership? Can I have two types of membership?
We now offer an EMS membership through the Texas Emergency Medical Services Board (TEMSB—a division of the SFFMA) and offer the same type of benefits available to all of our SFFMA members. However, this membership is solely for members who are not affiliated with a fire department. If you are already on a fire department roster at SFFMA, then you should probably keep that type of membership, as the EMS members do not yet have a certification program and cannot participate. Your account can only be one type of membership.
What if a member drops out of my department but I've already paid his or her dues? Can I just add someone in their place?
No. Memberships at SFFMA are nontransferable and they last through one calendar year. If an individual member pays his/her dues for the year and then leaves the department, their personal account is already paid for until December 31, no matter if he/she is marked inactive. The paid membership year must expire for an inactive member to lose eligibility toward SFFMA benefits.
What if I join late in the year? Will you pro-rate my dues?
No. Membership cannot be prorated. The reason for this is that it is one of the conditions for the insurance policies to be effective. If anything were to be claimed, the insurance company wants to know that you were a paid member for at least one full year.
Can we send separate checks to pay for dues?
Yes. Payments can be sent in separate checks or one big check—even money orders. We also accept credit cards to pay for dues, but usually invoices are quite detailed and they take a while to process; so if you’re planning to pay by credit card, you can fill out our “Payment Method Form” and enclose it with your invoice, or you can call the office and we can run the card right then, or we can call you when your card information is needed.
We are a new department. How can we become members?
There are several different ways. First, we must have your department information on file; to do this, you may fill out a “Department Membership Application.” If you do not yet have members, you can still join as a department and then add your members later. We then create a department account for you where we can identify and set up your chief and a training coordinator. This way, those individuals can gain access to the online system and add people to the roster at their leisure, as well as update information as needed. Here they can print an invoice and it will total up the dues payment. Then all you do is send the invoice in with your payment. We have forms available on our website: sffma.org by clicking on "JOIN US."
How long will it take to process my membership application?
Turnaround time depends greatly on the time of year. November is when we start invoicing for the next dues year. You may still acquire a membership for the current year at any time, but it will expire December 31, and you must always specify the year that you want to pay for. Therefore, turnaround time in November starts becoming slower as memberships are close to expiring and members are sending in renewals. December, January, February, and March, are the busiest months for membership. This means that processing time can be up to 30 days. After that, it comes down significantly until midyear, when it is usually a one to three-day turnaround time.
What if I don't know or remember my SFFMA ID or password?
Your SFFMA ID is always the same. It’s the number found on your membership card. If you’ve never signed in before, your password consists of your initials (first and last name only, must be in lowercase) and the last four digits of your SSN. Once you sign in with the default password, you’ll be prompted to change it. If you lose your password or forget it, please call the office or email firstname.lastname@example.org and we can reset your password for you.
What is the National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) membership?
SFFMA has partnered with the National Volunteer Fire Council to offer department members additional benefits. In addition to the AD&D and LODD policies that we have for our members, NVFC membership insures members for an added $10,000 and $20,000 respectively. Therefore, the added membership gets you an AD&D policy of $13,000 and an LODD policy of $25,000 when combined with SFFMA benefits. NVFC membership includes its own subscriptions and membership cards as well as updates and discounts for its members. Normally, membership to NVFC is $30, but if you’re a member through SFFMA, you can get a membership for $15.
What is the Volunteer Firemen's Insurance Service (VFIS) extended policy?
SFFMA has adopted an AD&D program as an enhanced benefit for our members. This new program offers more benefits and broader coverage, and costs less than the NVFC insurance program. For only $10 per year, your beneficiary will receive a $20,000 benefit in the event of your on-duty accidental death (including travel to and from authorized activities). In the event of an off-duty accidental death, a $10,000 benefit will be paid. In addition, if you suffer a severe burn over 20 percent of your body, a lump sum benefit of $5,000 will be paid. Accidental death remains the number one cause of death for working-age people.
Does everyone on the department roster have to purchase the NVFC and/or VFIS extended policies?
No. NVFC and VFIS are optional benefits for department-affiliated members. These do not have to be purchased for the whole department. If only certain members of your department want them, you may check a box on your invoice that specifies who wants the added membership, at any time. Remember, you must have an SFFMA ID and be a currently paid member in order to be eligible for these optional benefits.
Where will I receive my membership materials?
If you are a department-paid member, all materials will be sent in bulk to your fire department to the address on file. We encourage individual members to have a home address on file, which is where all magazines, newsletters, general correspondence, etc., will go.
What benefits are included with SFFMA membership?
There are many
benefits that we include; most are discounts on services, discounts on health
care policies, and the $5,000 AD&D and $5,000 LODD insurance policies.
Please visit sffma.org/benefits to learn about what
SFFMA offers our members.
What are the AMBA benefits?
for Association Member Benefit Advisors. They provide a variety of services and
discounts to our SFFMA members. Through AMBA, you can get discounted health care
plans such as dental/vision, first diagnosis heart attack, and first diagnosis cancer plans, as well as others. They are not included with membership, but are
available exclusively to SFFMA members at a discounted price. Please visit sffma.org/benefits to get more information on their
services and plans that could help you in the future.
How do I update my department information online?
If you are the fire chief or certification coordinator on record, you have access to your department records when using SFFMA Online. Your updates to the roster, contact information and training records can be managed through sffmaonline.org. If you do not know or cannot recall your SFFMA ID and/or password, please send an email to email@example.com or call the office so that we may assist you.
How do I update my personal information online?
Go to sffma.org and click on the yellow button at the top left-hand corner of the screen. Use the member number on your SFFMA membership card and your password. If you have never signed in before please use the default password which consists of your initials (first and last name only, must be in lowercase) and the last four digits of your SSN. If you continue to have difficulties, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with your SFFMA ID so that we may reset it for you.
Further questions regarding membership can be directed to: