Florence County works to get more firefighters in the saddle

FLORENCE, SC (WMBF) - Each year there are fewer and fewer volunteer fire fighters to help, both here at home and nationally, but Florence County is pushing to get more people interested in the fire service.

The Howe Springs Fire Department is stepping up, along with Florence School District One to show students they can make a career of being a firefighter.

The department is providing an instructor that will get those students ready to be a paid or volunteer firefighter within one year.

Juniors and seniors are suiting up in preparation of becoming a firefighter for Florence County.

"From dismantling a fire truck to putting on a PPE, hose streams to pulling hose off the truck, hose advancement," Jeffery Allen with the Howe Springs Fire Department said.

Jeffery Allen was hired by the Howe Spring Fire Department to teach the new fire program being offered by Florence School District One.

"To try and keep up with the times this is something that we need to put in the schools to help kids pick a career path," Chief Billy Dillon Howe Springs Fire Department said.

Howe Springs Fire Chief Billy Dillon said the program being offered at Florence School District One's Career Center will allow juniors and seniors a chance to get a paid firefighter position once they graduate.

"The number of firefighters, volunteer firefighters has dropped dramatically in Florence County and there is an interest among our kids to volunteer," Florence County Councilman Alphonso Bradley said.

Florence County Councilman Alphonso Bradley says it is possible that some students will get a job while still being in school.

And within the next few years, Florence County is slated to build four more fire stations.

Stations will give these kids an opportunity to test they have learned in the classroom.

"The idea to train the students came after the idea to build the fire stations, but the same need created both," Bradley said.

An old fire truck, hose and breathing apparatus are just some of the equipment used for the students to learn.

More than $100,000 in used fire equipment was donated to this program from several departments across Florence County.

Fire crews said the training offered will allow the students to take a job at any fire department in the nation, but the overall goal is to retain them and keep them right here at home.

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