JASPER COUNTY, S.C. (WTGS FOX 28) -- $910,000. That's how much money Jasper County Fire has to hire volunteer firefighters.
It's thanks to a federal Assistance to Firefighters Grant the department received back in September. Now, they're rolling out their volunteer outreach program, which they believe will bring in quite a large number of volunteers in the coming year.
“I know we were looking at 80 over four years," said Scott Guillerault, who is Jasper Fire's new volunteer coordinator.
The grant also included money to hire his position.
"It gives us someone who can really put the attention and focus on what we need," said Frank Edwards, Jasper County Fire Chief.
Guillerault's new to the position, but not new to Jasper Fire. He's been a paramedic for the past six months and knows firsthand how badly they need volunteers.
“We’re typically running with about six to eight people on the fire ground," he said. "It’s not enough and that’s an excessive work load on the career staff.”
He says, ideally, they would have 16 to 20 people working each fire scene. That's why he's working on materials to get the word out. By next week, Guillerault hopes to have volunteer recruitment banners posted on every fire station in Jasper County and Ridgeland.
He's already seeing some results after just a few weeks in his new role.
"I’m getting volunteers that haven't been active are starting to show back up and we’re getting a lot better turnout from volunteer training nights," said Guillerault.
The goal is to have 20 new volunteers by the end of the year.
Guillerault currently has about seven volunteer applications that have been sent in.
The Jasper County Fire Department holds volunteer training every Tuesday at 6 p.m.
You can find a link to the volunteer application on their website.