ARCHDALE, N.C. -- As of 2015, 70 percent of firefighters across America are volunteers. There are entire departments made by volunteers.
- Officials are concerned as the number of volunteers continues to decline
- The program's goal is to help recruit and retain volunteers at fire departments
- More information about volunteering can be found here.
Officials are concerned, however, as the number of volunteers continues to decline.
"We're very dependent on our volunteer personnel to pick up where we lack in paid personnel, not being a total paid department," Brian Causey said. He's the assistant fire chief at Guil-Rand Fire Department.
Guil-Rand is one of 15 in North Carolina that were accepted to a grant program. The program's goal is to help recruit and retain volunteers at fire departments.
"Over this grant process we're learning a lot of different things throughout the state that people are experiencing, and we're applying them, and they're applying what we're learning," Causey said.
The declining volunteer numbers have several factors, one of which is time.
Many people don't want to spend their free time out of work volunteering at the department.
"Emergency medical technician training, that's 200 plus hours. Firefighter training, 200 plus hours," Causey said.
One of tactics they're trying is to be more creative with recruitment. Creating more paid positions isn't an option, as that requires more money from people's taxes.
"A retired truck driver for instance, and they have experience driving a truck that maybe they could come drive our tanker truck to the fire," Causey said.
They also look to younger volunteers, like junior firefighter Bryan Roberts. His father is a volunteer, and he hopes to become one in the future. He's currently recruiting people his own age.
"That way you can get the training, get your foot in the door. And you can get more experience with it as your years go by. Then it'll help you out in the future," Roberts said.
More information about volunteering can be found here.