From WMBF News partner MyHorryNews.com:
It's about to get a little easier for Horry County Fire-Rescue to beef up its volunteer ranks.
The fire department learned late Friday that it was the recipient of a nearly $975,000 federal grant for the recruitment and retention of volunteers, said Brian VanAernem, a battalion chief and spokesman for HCFR.
"Unfortunately the days of the volunteer are drawing to a close for some people because you have two income families," VanAernem said. "But volunteers are hugely important. They help free up the career guys who are understaffed. What this will do is offset the cost."
The exact amount of the grant is $974,794 and is payable in roughly quarterly installments over the next four years. It covers the cost of volunteer firefighter gear, station wear and physicals.
VanAernem said many volunteers go on to pursue career positions with the fire department, so recruiting volunteers now helps address staffing needs down the road.
"Our goal is to have 1,000 volunteers," VanAernem said. "We do hire a lot of volunteers. That's a good perk of being a volunteer down here – they get the training through us instead of us sending back for training [with the state]."