POINT PLEASANT — Information is power and for anyone who has ever considered becoming a volunteer firefighter in Point Pleasant, that information will be provided at an open house on Saturday.
The open house / membership drive is from 10 a.m. - 2 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 18 at the Point Pleasant Volunteer Fire Department’s station at 2309 Jackson Ave.
PPVFD Chief Jeremy Bryant said the event is the first of its kind and he hopes it might generate some interest in becoming a volunteer firefighter. Bryant said recruitment retention at fire departments is a problem many volunteer agencies across the United States are facing right now.
“Volunteer organizations are struggling,” he said, guessing the economy has a lot to do with that, particularly an economy where members of households often work multiple jobs to make ends meet, leaving little time to volunteer.
Bryant said there are currently 20 active firefighters on his roster and his department has three engines, a ladder truck, rescue truck, brush truck, two boats and a hazmat trailer. The PPVFD provides coverage of homes and property not just inside the city limits of Point Pleasant but U.S. 35 to the county line, W.Va. 2 south to Crab Creek Rd., W.Va. 62 towards Leon, W.Va. 62 north to Potter’s Creek Rd.; Jericho Rd. and provides mutual aid to its fellow fire departments in Mason County and in Gallipolis, Ohio.
Managing this personnel and equipment is somewhat like managing a business, Bryant said. However, as with any business or volunteer organization, it needs personnel to keep it growing and viable, hence, Saturday’s membership drive.
For those interesting in finding out more information on becoming a volunteer firefighter, they must be 18 years old. For those who want to join after attending the open house, the process includes filling out an application, followed by a criminal background check being done, a vote by the membership to accept the application and then signing up for training classes (many online) which the fire department pays for.
Bryant said he’s lucky to have the 20, committed firefighters on his roster now but hopes to continue to grow the ranks of a club that seems to be in some people’s blood.
“It’s not like joining any civic organization,” Bryant said. “It’s a lifestyle change.”