Fire department introduces new program to recruit volunteers

Published: Jun. 27, 2019 at 5:36 PM EDT
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The Flatwoods Volunteer Fire Department recently began a program that allows people to answer calls along with firefighters to see if they would like to join the department.

Fire Chief Don Conrad says this is a way to combat the national shortage of volunteer firefighters on a local level.

"The first excuse you usually hear is 'I don't have time.' The second one is, they don't know if they can do it because they're squeamish of blood, they're afraid of heights," Conrad said.

Now people can see if that is really the case. Flatwoods firefighters use an app to receive and respond to calls. Anyone on the fence about joining the department would be added to the app and receive alerts on their phone.

Then that person could go to the department, hop on the truck, and ride along.

"After one or two ride-alongs they should know if they want to continue with it or not. If they do, they start their training," Conrad said.

The program can also save the department money. Conrad says about 25 percent of applicants go through the training and back out. This can cost the department thousands of dollars in the long run.

Conrad says if you are worried about the unpleasant aspects of the job, there is something for everyone to do. "You don't have to be the all out and do everything," he said. "You can ease into it too."

Flatwoods firefighters meet every Thursday at 6:30 p.m. If you are interested in the program, you can also message them on Facebook or call the department at 304-765-4066