Waterford to pay volunteer firefighters per call

WATERFORD, Conn. (WTNH)– “Help wanted” at a local fire department and to get new recruits the department is about to do something it’s never done before, pay its volunteers per call.

They still have the very first fire truck they ever had in Waterford and the trucks have changed, but one thing which hasn’t changed is this department relies heavily on volunteers.

During most days you’ll find firefighters at the Jordan fire house which is Waterford Fire Engine Company No. 1.

They have two full-time and seven part time firefighters on duty most of the day and count on their 25 volunteers after 11 PM.

“Night’s and weekends are definitely a trouble spot for us,” said Chief Tim Condon, Waterford Fire Engine Company No. 1.

Chief Tim Condon started out as a volunteer himself when he was 15. A tradition passed down in his family and others. But these days there aren’t as many volunteers knocking on the bay doors, so the head of the fire service is looking at paying volunteers per call to help get more potential certified firefighters to come through them.

“Especially in these economic times when it takes two incomes just to survive and then we ask you to come out and do something for free,” said Condon.

The chief says most volunteer to give back and getting paid per call may help them be able to afford to do that…

“I would say it’s a retention tool, not so much a recruitment tool,” said Condon.

…without costing taxpayers more money.

“The cost savings to the community would be the alternative is hiring more full time staff which would of course is going to make the tax dollars go up,” said Condon.

Before a volunteer can climb onto one of the trucks as a fully trained firefighter, it takes about 400 hours of training. That translates into at least a year. So the sooner volunteers can come through the doors the sooner they’ll be ready.

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