CONNECTICUT, USA —
Every single day, men and women across Connecticut gear up to help their neighbors. They are volunteers who are needed 24/7, 365.
"The need is always there. We never take a vacation, it's consistent, constant," said Blue Hills Fire Chief, Willie Jones.
In Connecticut, about 83% of firefighters are volunteers and many departments are currently facing a shortage.
"Around the state there are towns that are in dire need," said Simsbury First Asst. Chief Jason Gilbert.
In Bloomfield, the department is down to about 30 volunteers.
"I remember when we had 50 volunteers here, more than that. But slowly as times moved forward, for various reasons people don't
volunteer as much and you know some communities really feel that," Jones said.
Not just the communities, but the firefighters as well.
"Sometimes we get two people on the rig, three people. It's real hard. Think about it, fighting a fire with two people, it's kind of hard," said Jevonie Welcome, a volunteer firefighter with the Blue Hills Fire Dept.
In Simsbury, there are about 100 volunteers right now which means they are in pretty good shape, but there is always an opening.
"Right now, our focus is on the Tariffville area of town, we have about five or six members at that firehouse where this firehouse has 20," Gilbert said.
The Simsbury Fire Department is made up completely of volunteers, so they have been boosting recruitment efforts. They have been encouraging people to fill out applications and letting them know about some of the benefits.
"We do offer a tax abatement after two years to all of the members living in town. That helps with their property taxes as far as houses
go or cars if they don't own property," Gilbert said. "We offer gym memberships discounted to all of our membership," he said.
However, many said the biggest incentive is the bond the firefighters form with one another.
"The brotherhood, sisterhood, everything that we do for each other. It's not just about going to a call and doing what we have to do out there but everyone that comes through this door it's like we're all close and that makes everything better," Welcome said.
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