Volunteer firefighter shortage hits Mitchell County

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Published: Dec. 28, 2021 at 9:06 PM EST|Updated: Dec. 29, 2021 at 6:42 PM EST
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CAMILLA, Ga. (WALB) - Most companies are struggling to recruit new employees for jobs. The worker shortage is also affecting fire stations.

Volunteer firefighters are needed. Locally firefighters are obviously essential workers, but rural fire stations often rely on volunteers. And the fire chiefs in Mitchell County told me they are in dire need.

“Fire fighting is strenuous and it’s the heat, the weight of the equipment, the hoses. So the more people on the scene, the safer and faster we can mitigate the fires,” said Jamie Sullivan, Fire Chief of the Camilla Fire Department.

Despite the dangers, volunteer firefighters often accept unpaid work as training for a career.

Jamie Sullivan- Fire Chief of Camilla Fire Department
Jamie Sullivan- Fire Chief of Camilla Fire Department(WALB)

“There is a shortage nationwide with firefighters. If you’re interested in a good job opportunity a career job? The fire service may be a calling for you,” said Sullivan.

“It’s a life-changing experience knowing that you helped somebody down the road, giving back to your community. People always want to know what they can do to help the community. Volunteering,” said Michael Jones, Fire Chief for Mitchell County.

Fire Chief Jones, says they are offering free training for those that want to join.

Michael Jones- Fire Chief for Mitchell County
Michael Jones- Fire Chief for Mitchell County(WALB)

“I have classes twice a year. You can get registered to volunteer, you can go further than that. It’s a 96-hour course and it usually takes three or four months and we meet two nights a week,” said Jones.

The Doerun Fire Department operates only with volunteers. They provided critical help fighting holiday fires this weekend.

“Without that help, we would not have been able to accomplish what we had,” said Jones.

But fire stations face challenges with recruiting and many may not understand how rewarding it is.

“You get a lot of training when you come to a volunteer department and the stigma of ‘hey, you know they are just volunteers.’ That looks bad on us because a lot of us have done it professionally and we choose just to donate for our communities. When we do it for our communities, we do it for the sheer love of the community,” said Tyler Maples, fire chief for Doerun Fire Department.

If you are interested in volunteer firefighting you can reach out to the Mitchell Fire Department at (229) 330-0542 or on Facebook at Mitchell County Fire Rescue or the Doerun Fire Department via Facebook.

The Camilla Fire Department is looking to hire a part-time fireman and can be reached at (229) 336-2206.

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