Maryland fire companies show off skills to attract more volunteers

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WASHINGTON COUNTY, MD — Volunteer fire companies from around Washington County gathered Saturday in hopes of recruiting more help.

Held outside the Valley Mall, the Washington County Volunteer Fire and Rescue Association hosted the Volunteer Strong Challenge, a friendly competition among fire and rescue teams while showing off skills by first responders.

Firefighters from each unit competed in different challenges, such as quickly putting on turnout gear, dragging a sled or a dummy, ladder carrying and sledgehammering a door open.

 

For the sledgehammer contest, participants didn’t actually hit a door. They swung the metal hammer at a large tire instead. Nicole Stotelmyer, recruitment and retention coordinator for the Washington County Volunteer Fire and Rescue Association, said 15 swings is the equivalent to knocking down a door.

Stotelmyer said the county currently has around 1,200 volunteers but is always looking for more. She said there are 26 volunteer fire stations and three support centers in the county.

“It’s a huge importance. It saves the taxpayers millions of dollars every year by having volunteers,” she said.

There are many reasons to volunteer, according to Stotelmeyer.

“It’s also a great way to give back to the community, to get involved and to learn a skill,” she said. “There is stuff that you’ll learn that you’ll be able to use within your professional lives, even if you aren’t in fire and rescue, so it’s a great benefit and there are lots of great things you can get for volunteering, not a paycheck, but different things from vendors like discounts and different services to volunteers.”

 Cody Swope, a volunteer with the Funkstown Volunteer Fire Co., has been volunteering for three years and said there are a lot of different ways to help out the fire company.

“It’s a lot of fun, you get to give back to the community, and we don’t just need front line firefighters,” he said. “We also need help in the kitchen, with bingos and fundraising is always needed also.”

For more information visit, www.willyouanswerthecall.com.