A year ago Lauderdale County's Fire Service launched a major recruitment campaign. With less than 200 volunteers at the time, LCFS officials say there was a dire need for it. A year later, and things are changing!
'We've brought in an additional 100 volunteers.'
Keith Reed is the Recruitment and Retention Coordinator for Lauderdale County's Fire Service. He credits a more than $331,000 grant that the department received from FEMA with aiding in the recruitment effort.
'With that grant we're able to give back to the volunteers with a $5 reimbursement per call, just for expenses they have had while responding,' says Reed.
Aside from providing money for reimbursements, the grant is also being used to pay for a full-time recruiter for the agency, plus materials that are needed.
'Out of the last 100 people that we've recruited, 75% are probably in the 18 to 25 or 26 age range,' says Reed.
In coming months Reed says he plans to place posters, that encourage young people to volunteer, inside every high school in Lauderdale County. With so many young people volunteering, he's optimistic that the posters will attract even more.
'If we could get another 100 to 150 people of any age who qualify, we would be happy with that,' says Reed. 'That would not stop our recruitment efforts; we're always looking for people, but 400 to 450 would be adequate to do everything that we would have to do.'
Currently there are about 300 volunteer firefighters who serve 40,000 residents in Lauderdale County. Each year they respond to almost 2,500 emergency calls. In all, there are 16 volunteer fire departments in Lauderdale County with 21 different fire stations.