LEESBURG, GA (WALB) - The Lee County Fire Department continues to recruit volunteers to join their service.
Lee County hosts their second volunteer firefighting information session at 6:00 tonight, as they try to improve their fire services across the county.
Volunteer firefighters are vital across South Georgia in protecting property and lives, but the number of volunteers is declining. Lee County is giving people the opportunity to serve their community.
Lee County has been recruiting volunteer firefighters for several months, to improve their protection to the large, fast growing community. The plan is for volunteers to help increase the staff on their trucks during emergencies.
Lee County Fire Chief James Howell said, "So by the volunteer program we can supplement that. Get additional firefighters on the ground at a larger savings to the citizens of Lee County."
Right now 90% of Lee County's fire department budget is paying the salary and benefits of the firefighters. But Insurance Underwriters want more firefighters to improve the county rating to set insurance rates, but hiring more firefighters would probably require a tax increase. So officials are recruiting volunteers to fill that gap.
Fire Department Training Officer Jim Weaver said, "When there is a call for assistance then we have a trained group of men and women that has been trained to the level where they can give some emergency medical care and some fire assistance when needed."
The volunteers would not be front line firefighters doing the most dangerous jobs, but helping support them.
"When we've got someone filling the support roles then that frees up one of our career firefighters that can go in, or one of the volunteers that is willing to go in," Howell said.
Tonight from 6 to 10 at the Lee County Fire Headquarters on Leslie Highway anyone interested in volunteering can find out the requirements and commitment that would be involved in volunteering.
"We're trying to get a bite in the communities and see who wants to be a part, and give back to their community at the volunteer level," Weaver said.
It's a big challenge and commitment, but could mean the difference in saving lives and keeping down taxes. It is a big commitment. The initial training is 120 hours.
Already 18 people have qualified.