PEYTONSVILLE, Tenn. - With $1 million of advertisement money in tow, Williamson County began searching for 800 new firefighters to add to their current 217 volunteers.
According to Fire Coordinator Jay Bonson, the county needs more recruits to cover space at the 14 volunteer fire departments throughout rural areas of the county. One such area in Peytonsville houses three firefighters. They volunteer from that station, though all three are full time paid firefighters in county cities.
Williamson County Fire Rescue covers all of the county except for the cities of Spring Hill, Fairview, Franklin and Brentwood. It's a large area, Bonson said.
"1,000 volunteers would only represent a half of one percent of our population," said Bonson. "We feel that's an attainable goal. Retention of those volunteers and retaining that attractiveness to continue to volunteer to stay at that 1,000 people"
The county received a more than $1 million grant to advertise and recruit firefighters. Fire rescue has been focusing on events, such as the county fair, but they were expected to start sending fliers to county residents in the mail.
Still, Bonson said it's a difficult task, getting people to work for no money.
"People have so much going on with their time. We're competing with people's family time, with people who need two and three jobs just to keep their own personal budgets up," said Bonson. "We feel the reward you get back from that from helping your community, from helping your neighbor is far more important."
Training to become a volunteer firefighter takes about 90 hours. Bonson said some times, volunteers are working on starting careers in the fire department. He said there are also rescue positions available.
When asked who is allowed to join, he said this: "As long as you're 18 and breathing."