Horry County, SC (WMBF) - A new class of recruits for Horry County Fire Rescue spent the day training to start a new career as either a firefighter or paramedic on Monday.
Unfortunately for the department, nearly one-fifth of these students won't stay with Horry County more than a couple years.
"Sometimes it just turns out not to be the career that they thought it would be," said Deputy Chief Scott Thompson.
Fire departments all over the state have an alarmingly high turnover rate. Horry County Fire Rescue alone loses nearly 20 percent of ITS workforce every year.
That makes the department nearly six people short most days across all its shifts.
"Sometimes people find out they don't want to be a firefighter or paramedic," Thompson said.
Horry County Fire rescue is the largest department in the area, but still relies on about 370 volunteers. That's almost 50 percent of the department.
"It's definitely helpful, as a matter of fact, it's a necessity, we rely on our volunteers heavily here," he said.
Horry County is trying something new.
On top of starting two new recruit schools every year, Horry County fire rescue is now removing the EMT requirement from some of its jobs. Instead, Horry County will provide its own EMT training to new firefighters.
The department hopes the new tactic will open the door for more applicants who could eventually return the investment.