NC uses new campaign to recruit volunteer firefighters

WAKE COUNTY, N.C. (WTVD) -- Volunteer fire departments say they need your help.

"Volunteerism is down, yes, we could always use more volunteers," said Chief David Cates, Eastern Wake Fire Department.

The North Carolina Association of Fire Chiefs recently received a federal grant that paid for a PSA and other marketing tools to get more volunteer applicants.

Seventy-two percent of North Carolina's firefighters are volunteers. Since 2016, North Carolina volunteer fire departments have lost an average of 600 volunteers a year.

If there aren't enough firefighters for a call, Chief Cates said another department has to be called.

"Whether it's a truck from Knightdale or Garner or Wendell, that' an extended response time that we just would rather not have for our customers- the people that depend on us for those services," Chief Cates said.

Chief Cates said the amount of training required could be partly to blame for the low number of volunteers. They're required to have more than 100 hours of training, which is a lot of people who volunteer on top of a full-time job and family life.

"Nights and weekends are when that training has to take place and that's a difficult thing to balance," Chief Cates said.

But, so far, the new recruiting campaign is working. Since accepting the grant, there have been over 250 applicants statewide for interest in becoming volunteer firefighters.

If you are interested in becoming a volunteer firefighter, the best way to apply is to visit your local department or visit Volunteerfirenc.org.
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