New Kent aggressively seeking volunteer firefighters

NEW KENT, VA (WWBT) - A Central Virginia fire department says it has a critical need for more than 3 dozen firefighters. New Kent County Fire Rescue says turnover and a growing demand for service have the department aggressively looking for people willing to volunteer. A federal program is helping the department recruit.

When you need them they're there and now firefighters here at the New Kent County fire rescue say they can sure use your help. They're looking for volunteers to continue meeting the need.

When 3500 calls for service come in each year, New Kent firefighters respond to every one.

"I get a chance to do stuff most normal people can't. I get to do it for free," says Jon Stone.

He's volunteered with the county for two years now in addition to his full-time job where he works some 50 hours a week. That's the spirit the department says it not only wants - but now needs even more.

"We're about the only land mass left between Henrico & Williamsburg and day by day we're growing. Our population right now is about to tip at 20,000," said Chief Rick Opett.

He says the department relies on nearby fire departments to help respond to big calls. Now, he's aggressively advertising for 40 additional volunteer firemen. The International Association of Fire Chiefs is helping.

"They're using this study, such as the retailers are using a study, of what the demographics of our current membership is. What are they buying and what are they using? So that we can go target those areas and recruit from those areas," Opett said.

Since the campaign started in July, the department has gotten nearly a dozen applications and the year-long effort continues.

Stone says the experiences he's gained, he wouldn't trade.

"We had a really bad car accident and the child that was in the car was hurt very seriously and we ended up having to fly them out. About two months later, the kid came walking in on crutches. It was pretty good. It can be emotional at times but it's worth it," he said.

Those are opportunities you can't put a price on.

"It's a lot more than just getting paid," he said.

You don't have to live in the county in order to get on board. They'll take anyone from anywhere who is willing to learn and serve.

New Kent Fire Rescue is accepting applications for volunteer firefighters on its website.

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