(WTNH) — The massive blaze at the JCC emptied the fire houses around the area. Volunteers and professionals worked side-by-side to contain the fire minimizing the damage. But for the volunteer fire departments, it’s becoming harder and harder to recruit people.
In Woodbridge and Bethany, they have about 50 firefighters, but would like to see that number jump to 60. Chief Bob McSherry says in Bethany it’s a challenge.
“We live in a two income society, where if it’s a married couple and it’s pretty hard for the husband or the wife to get out and go to all the training, which can be 200 to 400 hours depending on which route you take,” said McSherry.
That’s right. Hundreds of hours just to become a volunteer firefighter then many more hours re-certifying. It’s hard to recruit and keep firefighters when you factor in the paperwork, the physicals from doctors, maintenance on the equipment, that’s before they even go out on a single call.
Chief Sean Rowland of Woodbridge says and they’re doing it all without pay.
“Most of it is all good stuff, there are some things that are counterproductive why, but in the long run precautions are there for our safety and the firefighter safety,” said Rowland.
In Woodbridge, they respond to more than 500 calls a year for their town, but also get called out to neighboring communities to help truck water. McSherry says while it’s a lot of work, the reward and job satisfaction is high.
“I’ve had the best fortune and also the total thrill of bringing somebody back through resuscitation and other means and there’s nothing else like it in the world, it is pretty exhilarating,” said McSherry.