Frequently Asked Questions
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 the area served, 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. Departments sometimes have many members and only some of them want to join SFFMA — that’s fine, too. They may join at any time. 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 SFFMA) that provides 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 non-transferable 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 due to the conditions/requirements of our insurance policies. If a claim were to be made, 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 payments, but invoices are usually quite detailed and take some time to process. If you’re planning to pay by credit card, please complete the “Payment Method Form” and enclose it with your invoice, or you may call the office and we will process the card at that time. We can also 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, which requires the completion of a department membership application. If you do not yet have individual members, you may still join as a department and then add members later. Once we receive the application, we will create a department account where we will identify and record the name of the chief and training coordinator. These two individuals will then have access to the online system and may add people to the roster at their leisure, as well as update information as needed. Here they may also print an membership dues invoice. Once created, please send the invoice to us 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. Turnaround time in November becomes 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 40 days. After that, it is significantly shorter until midyear when it is usually a one to three-day turnaround time.
What if I don't know or remember my SFFMA username or password?
Your SFFMA username will be your email address, which we must have on file. If you need to add (or change) an email address on your profile, please call the office or email firstname.lastname@example.org so that we may make those changes. Once completed, you will receive a "reset password" email.
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 standard AD&D and LODD policies that come with membership, we also offer supplemental NVFC membership, which insures members for an added $10,000 and $20,000, respectively. This added insurance provides a total of $12,000 for AD&D, and $25,000 for LODD when combined with the standard 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, the fee is only $15.
What is the Volunteer Firemen's Insurance Service (VFIS) extended policy?
SFFMA also offers supplemental AD&D insurance through VFIS. This program offers more benefits and broader coverage, and costs less than the NVFC insurance. 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 the invoice that specifies who wants the added membership. Remember, you must have be a current 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 be sent.
What benefits are included with SFFMA membership?
There are many benefits of membership. Most of these benefits are discounts on services, discounts on health care policies, and the $2,000 AD&D and $5,000 LODD insurance policies. Please visit benefits to learn about what SFFMA offers our members.
What are the AMBA benefits?
AMBA stands for Association Member Benefit Advisors. They provide a variety of services and discounts to 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 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 file, you have access to your department records when using the website. If you need assistance logging in, please note that we will need to have a valid email address on file. Please send an email to email@example.com or call the office so that we may assist you. Once the email address is on file, you may reset your password by using the reset password link at the login screen.
Further questions regarding membership can be directed to:
Membership Coordinator - firstname.lastname@example.org