'If you have the heart, we can train you:' Volunteer firefighters urgently needed
The Woodsdale Volunteer Fire Department in rural Person County is being de-certified - essentially shutdown - in part because they didn't have enough firefighters.Posted — Updated
Their response area will be divided up among neighboring departments, while a new program has been put in place to help answer the urgent call for more volunteer firefighters across the state.
When someone calls 911 for emergency help, they're likely to have a mix of volunteer and career firefighters – they won't know the difference between a volunteer or paid professional when they step off the truck to help.
According to the North Carolina Association of Fire Chiefs, 70 percent of firefighters in North Carolina are volunteers. But the number of those volunteers is falling.
Using grant money from FEMA, a new effort is underway to recruit new volunteers.
Glenn Clapp, Captain of the Fairview Fire Department, said, "We even have retirees that retire out from a full-time career elsewhere, from say, the private sector, then come here as a volunteer because they've always wanted to ride a big red fire truck."
Lou Cipriano, 61 years old, started volunteering with Wake County's Fairview Fire Department after retiring from IBM four years ago.
"I'm kind of an adrenaline junky, and when that alarm goes off, the adrenaline goes 60 miles an hour. But when you have to lay hands on the scene, that's very satisfying," said Cipriano.
The training and gear are provided free, but each volunteer finds their own value in the job.
"If you have heart, we can train you," said Clapp.
Heart, said Clapp, is what makes the difference. That's how you know you can perform when fighting a fire -- how you know you'll going to go that extra mile if needed.
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