Need for volunteer firefighters greater than ever

GRAFTON—One of the most rewarding jobs one can do is that of one that helps others. One profession sees men and women putting their lives on the line to protect citizens every time a call comes in.

“Being a fireman is a very satisfying and gratifying job,” shared Vice President of the Grafton Volunteer Fire Department Lieutenant Jarrett Cunningham. “Volunteers are a wonderful asset to have, because they help their fellow citizens in times of need and ask for nothing in return.”

He said being a volunteer gives a sense of accomplishment, achievement and pride, something that goes right along with the department’s motto of “Pride Protecting People.”

“It takes a very special person to do this job,” Cunningham voiced. “There are a lot of training hours and dedication required to perform the duties of the profession properly.”

In an effort to increase their ranks, the West Virginia State Firemen’s Association has launched two campaigns aimed at recruiting more volunteers into the Volunteer Fire Service of West Virginia.

“The volunteer fire service is in desperate need of new members, and we’re having trouble keeping veteran members,” explained John Holstein, Publicity Committee Chair of the West Virginia State Fireman’s Association. “Over the course of the last few years, we have developed campaigns aimed at increasing our numbers.”

The “Get into the Extreme” program calls on students and individuals who love excitement and wish to be on the front lines.

“This can be a very intense and interesting profession, but fighting a fire is not for everyone,” Cunningham expressed. “It has been reported that almost two-thirds of all fire department responses are rescue and EMS related.”

According to the West Virginia State Firemen’s Association, more and more responsibilities are being placed on the fire service each day, making highly motivated individuals an important part of the job.

“We need individuals willing to listen, learn, participate and who are ready to reach for the extremes,” their release stated. “If you’re an adrenaline junkie, the fire service is right up your alley!”

And while being on the heat of the front lines might not be for everyone, there is certainly a place in a fire department for everyone.

“Whether you’re on the front lines containing flames, assisting on a car wreck scene, acting on our swift water rescue team or being a social member helping with department events, there’s an important job for everyone,” Cunningham commented.

He reported that volunteers can become dive team members, a part of the K-9 team or members of the Hazmat side of the fire service.

The second campaign calls on students to complete community service hours, which can be used for additional credit to be applied toward honors for graduation and college.

“The volunteer fire service needs these young adults as much as any other volunteer organization in the state,” reported Holstein.

Students interested in this program will be responsible for duties such as cleaning up around the fire station, taking part in fire prevention and even some administrative duties.

“Firefighters provide the community with a sense of safety,” expressed Cunningham. “When they need us, they know we will always be there. The Grafton Volunteer Fire Department truly values our community, and we strive to provide the best service we can to our citizens.”

Becoming a volunteer with the department is easy.

“If someone is interested, all they have to do is come see us and fill out an application,” he shared.

Applicants must have a either a high school diploma or a GED equivalent. He reported that after the application is submitted, members vote on applicants, and once they are approved, training begins.

“Volunteers have to complete approximately 120 hours of training in order to become eligible to run with the department and respond to calls,” Cunningham explained. “The department provides individuals with funding for the training, as well as transportation to and from the classes.”

For more information on joining the Grafton Fire Department, please contact them by phone at 304-265-1866 or stop by the station.

For those interested in either of the programs being offered by the association, please visit their website at, and click on the “How do I become a volunteer firefighter?” tab at the top of the page. For the “Get into the Extreme program,” please visit


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