Volunteer firefighters needed in Roane County

ROANE COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- The sound of sirens is one that Reedy Volunteer Fire Chief Joshua Hand is all too familiar with.

A fire that happened over the weekend in Spencer, West Virginia, required eight fire departments. Two responded from out of the county.

"If we do get a fire call, it’s not a strange thing to say we still don’t have enough manpower with all the county,” Hand said.

But on top of the stress of responding to a call is another obstacle, having enough firefighters to respond.

"You’re still looking at an extra 15 minutes before another fire department gets there to help you out, and a lot can happen in those 15 minutes,” he said.

Fire departments across Roane County and the surrounding area are struggling to get enough firefighters to respond to calls.

Just this past weekend, a fire on Market Road in Spencer took eight departments to contain, some coming from other counties.

"Everybody helped from Arnoldsburg, all the way to Ripley," Hand said.

Roane County has six fire departments, all of them volunteer. The lack of firefighters has led to changes in the county.

"Because of the short manpower, we've recently started on every fire call doing a countywide page out,” he said.

Chief Hand says that the amount of training required makes it difficult to get new members because they work full time.

"You, for instance, want to come up and be a firefighter, you would have to go through at least 140 hours of training,” he said.

On top of that is the money required to have a trained and ready station.

"A firefighter 1 class, it’s around 600 dollars, OK? To man that person top to bottom, there’s another seven or eight thousand dollars in gear,” Hand said.

Even as some volunteer departments struggle, the rewards of the job are well worth it.

"Doing salvage and overhaul and you pick up a picture and you go hand it to the family member and they’re like oh wow thank you so much, that’s why we do it,” he said.

Even if you don't live in Roane County, you can still help your local volunteer fire department by applying to be a firefighter, making a donation or donating your time.

Hand says the first step to getting involved is stopping into your local fire department.