Dawson County Emergency Services, like many other departments across the nation, are reevaluating and refocusing its efforts to recruit new volunteer firefighters.
"Take a look across the board, nationwide, volunteerism in fire service is on the downslide," said Fire Chief Lanier Swafford. "Economics is tougher, more people are working extra jobs and you've got an enormous amount of competition for volunteerism."
Swafford hopes a new recruit course Dawson County Emergency Services is offering this spring will increase the department's volunteer firefighter staff.
"In Dawson County, we are blessed to have a large volunteer community, but they are volunteering somewhere else besides the fire department," he said.
Broken down similar to college classes, the three-module course will be taught over several months by state certified instructors currently employed with the department.
"Support firefighter will be taught in the first module, which is the basic entry-level and allows you to do everything except work in the hot zone and fight fire," Swafford said.
The two subsequent courses would qualify recruits to fight fire and achieve national professional qualifications.
The initial recruit opportunity is open to anyone 18 years or older who can pass the department's background check, including residents living outside Dawson County.
Volunteer firefighters are eligible for pay per call, participation in the Georgia Firefighters Pension Fund, and are covered by workers compensation. Other benefits such as accident and sickness insurance are also available.
Completed applications for the April 11 recruit class are due by March 29.
Applications are at www.dawsoncounty.org, or for more information, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.