Del. fire departments working to recruit and retain volunteers amid shortage
SUSSEX COUNTY, Del. – At the drop of a hat, Sussex County firefighters are willing to risk it all to save a life, but what happens when the number of people who volunteer to protect and serve their communities gets smaller and smaller?
“With the work and industry throughout the state nowadays people don’t have the time and the resources to volunteer like they used to,” said Delaware Volunteer Firefighters Association President, Jay Jones.
While volunteering is on the decline, fire officials tell 47 ABC the number of emergency calls they’re seeing in the county is showing no signs of slowing down.
“Last year, Lewes made over 4,000 EMS calls alone. The Challenge of handling that with just a volunteer service, you’re not able to overcome that,” said Lewes Fire Department representative, Glenn Marshall.
Which is why these departments are now all on hands-on-deck doing their best to recruit and retain volunteers. And they say the most important way to do that is by educating the public
“We go out to the schools, do recruiting, we go out to public education events, community events, we’re out in the parade,” said Marshall.
Officials say there are many benefits of becoming a volunteer. Like receiving free training, and opportunities to move up in the field.
“It’s training that could eventually even lead to a career,” said Jones.
“The excitement of going into a controlled burn building, cutting a car apart, learning about the five different stages of fire and being able to work through,” said Marshall.
And while it’s not an issue that can be solved overnight, fire departments across the county are doing everything they can to get their volunteer numbers back on track.
“This is not going to be an easy task. It’s going to take a lot of work and it’s going to take creativity and it’s going to take a team effort,” said Marshall.
If you’re interested in volunteering you can click any of the links below: