Volunteer fire departments to hold recruitment day
Almost all of the 17 volunteer fire departments of Charles County will be opening their doors to the public on Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. for the second annual recruitment day as there is a pressing need for more volunteer firefighters and EMS personal throughout Charles County, according to Bill Smith, a spokesman for the Charles County Volunteer Fire and EMS Association.
“It’s very rewarding. I’ve been involved for 41 years now,” Smith said. “It’s a sense of giving back to the community.”
“Bring your children; bring anyone you want to,” he continued. “They can take a tour of the station; they can look at all the equipment that the volunteers operate with. We’d love to have them there.”
“Each year the call volume, the demand for service increases, and our volunteerism seems to be dwindling,” he told the Maryland Independent. And if commitment is an issue for a potential volunteer, “There’s not an actual requirement for the number of hours that you put into a volunteer department,” though the expectation is that one signs up for at least a few hours of duty a week.
The certification process is provided for free by the University of Maryland Fire Rescue Institute located in La Plata, and once certified, the volunteer will also be be able to use it in other states as well, should they move out of Maryland in the future.
Smith also highlighted the opportunity for high school juniors and seniors to enroll in the Charles County Fire and EMS Cadet Program, in which students leave early from school after attending morning classes and travel to the Fire Rescue Institute to learn the skills of a firefighter and EMS personnel. Upon completing the course, students will receive 17 college credits.
And even if one did not want to volunteer as a firefighter or EMS personnel, there is also a need for those who would prefer administrative duties as well.
“The volunteers in Charles County, both fire and EMS, do their jobs with dedication and they do it for free. So, I would ask the citizens in our county, when they see a firefighter or an EMT … just walk up to them and say ‘thank you.’ It means a lot.”