The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Latest News

December 29, 2012

Mount Hope looking for a few volunteers

MOUNT HOPE — “Dangerous work, irregular hours, no money, satisfaction guaranteed,” reads a recruitment poster for the Mount Hope Volunteer Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department.

Leaders there are getting proactive about recruiting new members, hoping to enroll volunteers in free firefighter and emergency medical technician training classes starting in January.

A combination of downward trends in membership, an expansion of services and the need to handle large volumes of calls during National Scout Jamborees has spurred the push for new recruits.

“It’s an exciting and rewarding career, even on a volunteer status, to have the opportunity to know you’re making a difference in someone’s life,” said Capt. Jeff Johnson. “With this training, we’re giving people the opportunity to make a good outcome out of something bad that’s happened.”

Johnson says recruitment and retention at volunteer fire departments has been dropping in the past 10 to 15 years nationwide.

“It used to be you didn’t have to do a lot of recruiting. People had time and wanted to volunteer. Now you have busier lifestyles.

“So to continue to fill our staff with volunteers, we are hitting the recruiting pretty hard to keep our station manned every day of the week, 24-hours a day for medical responses.”

Part of that effort means reaching out to younger members of the community. Mount Hope has an active Firefighters Apprenticeship Program for youth ages 16 to 18. The firefighters-to-be obtain EMT and fire training so that when they turn 18 they are ready to step on the truck and go.

Samuel Jones, 19, began training with the department when he was 17. He says the experience has had a “positive effect” on his life and has enabled him to pursue his career goals.

“When I was a kid, when 9/11 happened, I remember watching the firefighters going into the towers and I thought that was courageous and brave. I decided I wanted to be a firefighter,” he said.

So he went down to the fire station and asked about the program. With EMT and fire training now under his belt, he says he wants to be a paramedic one day.

The apprenticeship program, now in its sixth year, averages between four and eight members per year.

The department offers another incentive to young people in the form of a “bunk-in program.” College students can live in the station’s bunk house, instead of a typical college dorm, and be trained as a firefighter in exchange for volunteering to respond to calls.

In early December, Mount Hope VFD launched a First Responder program. At least one emergency responder is on duty at the station at all times to handle non-fire emergency calls. With this expansion of services, calls have increased by about a third, adding to the desire for a larger trained membership.

And finally, the 2013 National Scout Jamboree, expected to draw about 40,000 people to the Summit Bechtel Reserve right outside of town, has increased the need for members.

“With the Jamboree coming up, our call volumes are going to be outrageous. At Fort A.P. Hill, where they used to have the Jamboree, they averaged 300 fire and medical calls a day,” said Johnson.

The department currently responds to an average of 30 to 40 calls per month.

“We’re in the process of going from a small town fire department to one of the largest cities in the state, for 10 days every four years. We’ll be adapting to the amount of people and the type of calls we’ll be running,” says Johnson.

The Boy Scouts of America recently bought the department a “mini-pumper” truck, a small fire truck that can be used to navigate smaller streets and the Summit property, where it will be housed.

Johnson says he’d like to see the 30-plus member force grow to about 50, and he’s encouraging more local men and women to “serve with pride” and “make a difference.”

The upcoming First Responder and Emergency Medical Technician training begins Jan. 8 with an orientation meeting. The classes start on Jan. 10. In-house instructors will also offer firefighter training. Participants can choose one or the other, or both.

All the training is provided and paid for by the VFD, with no cost to members. Classes are offered on Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 6:30 to 10:30 p.m.

Volunteers are paid a small stipend of $10 per call and uniforms are provided.

Contact Capt. Jeff Johnson at 304-673-4872 for more information. For those interested in the Firefighters Apprenticeship Program, call Chief Shane Wheeler at 304-877-2488.

—E-mail: cmoore@register-herald.com

1
Text Only
Latest News
  • rock VIdeo: Experts dislodge precariously perched remnant of a rockslide

    A highly-trained crew in climbing gear hoisted chainsaws and other specialized equipment high above the road in Hinton Tuesday morning to remove a boulder that hung precariously above a busy intersection.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Preliminary hearing set for Bluefield ‘warlock’

    A Bluefield man who police say used a promise of magical spells to lure children into committing sexual acts with him remains incarcerated at the Southern Regional Jail in Beaver on multiple sexual assault and sexual abuse charges.

    April 23, 2014

  • New River Gorge fire still burning

    Firefighters are still trying to control the fire at Fern Creek along the Endless Wall area of the New River Gorge, according to a press release from the National Park Service on Tuesday.

    April 23, 2014

  • fff Experts help growing entrepreneurs

    John Yates wants to grow potatoes to supply Monroe County schools.
    He’s got a business plan, he can get the equipment and 3 tons of seed potatoes. The land for lease in Sweet Springs is farther from his Ballard home than he’d like, but with a little help, the active duty Army staff sergeant and his sister Rebecca are ready to begin.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Rahall calls meeting on W.Va.’s drug problem

    U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall says he has arranged a roundtable discussion with federal and West Virginia officials on the state’s prescription drug abuse and trafficking problems.

    April 23, 2014

  • Arch Coal reports wider 1Q loss

    Arch Coal Inc. said Tuesday that its first-quarter loss widened as weaker prices and demand cut into its margins, prompting the mine operator to shave its outlook for shipments of coal used in making steel.

    April 22, 2014

  • Former Concord University police officer sentenced on sex charge involving juvenile

    A former Concord University police officer was sentenced Tuesday to a term of 10 to 20 years in prison on a single count of sexual abuse by a parent or custodian.

    April 22, 2014

  • Bly6bH3CYAA6Xdl.jpg-large.jpeg UPDATE: Ill. crew helps fight New River Gorge fire

    An Illinois-based firefighting crew has joined the effort to contain a wildfire in the New River Gorge National River.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Thunderstorms, showers heading our way

    Today’s forecast lurches us a little further toward real spring weather, with scattered showers and thunderstorms possible after 2 p.m.

    April 22, 2014

  • State spring gobbler season to open next week

    The West Virginia Division of Natural Resources says spring gobbler season will open Monday and run through May 24.

    April 22, 2014