Firefighters wanted in Westover : Department down to 5 members, needs volunteers

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Many small communities across Shelby County rely on volunteer fire departments to protect them in times of emergency. But that protection may be lacking in Westover due to short supply of volunteers.

According to Fire Chief Charles Barnes, the Westover department is in desperate need of more help. &8220;We are down to about five members who make most of your medical and fire runs,&8221; said Barnes. &8220;This is not a safe number.&8221;

Barnes said the problem is not that residents don&8217;t want a fire department but that they think someone else will step up and do it.

He said the process for becoming a firefighter shouldn&8217;t scare someone away from volunteering and that the department needs people to help in various roles. &8220;You don&8217;t have to be willing to run into a burning building to help,&8221; Barnes said.

He also said if people are concerned about being put in the line of danger they shouldn&8217;t be. &8220;Most of our calls are medical related to illness, auto accidents or injuries that occur in the home or outside while working.&8221; He said when a structural fire does occur departments from around the area are often called to help out.

All volunteers must be at least 18-years-old. Basic training for medical and fire safety is provided locally. Barnes said additional training can

be obtained through county and state organizations, although it isn&8217;t required.

To learn more about volunteering anyone can attend the department&8217;s weekly meetings on Monday nights from 7 p.m. until 9 p.m. at fire station No. 1, located at 3341 Westover Road.