In August of 2016, Jefferson County Emergency Services Agency (JCESA) received a 4-year, $960,710 grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to help support the recruitment and retention of volunteer firefighters in Jefferson County. Before receiving the grant, the high overhead cost of taking on a new firefighter was typically paid for by each individual fire station. According to JCESA Director Denise Pouget, “Because of the grant, JCESA can now cover these costs, allowing many more recruits to join one of the seven volunteer fire departments in the County.”
All new firefighters in the program receive an in-depth physical, extensive training, and top of the line turnout gear to better prepare them to protect our community. In addition to these benefits, any higher education students who join a Jefferson County Fire Department, and pass the physical and firefighter training, can apply annually for a $2,000 tuition reimbursement stipend. “We hope this will encourage students at both Blue Ridge Community and Technical College, as well as Shepherd University and other area institutions of higher learning, to consider volunteering as a fire fighter during their college careers”, says Director Pouget.
Since receiving the grant, JCESA has been working hard in partnership with several local businesses to build a marketable brand for the program. On Monday, July 17th, “Stand The Heat WV” will officially launch around the county and over the internet. “Beginning Monday, you will be able to find our ‘Stand The Heat WV’ campaign on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Youtube by using @StandTheHeatWV”, says Liam Redding, head of the social media marketing team, “it is very important to our team that we get the community involved in this program, and we believe social media is the perfect place to start.”
In addition to the launch of the social media campaign, “Stand The Heat WV” will also begin broadcasting a recruitment commercial on Comcast over the Eastern Panhandle starting Wednesday July 19, 2017. For those without Comcast, the commercial will also be launched on the social media accounts, and the program website (www.StandTheHeatWV.com).
“We had to create two versions of the commercial”, Recruitment Coordinator Allen Keyser explains, “a thirty-second commercial for Comcast, and a longer version for the internet. It was a challenge, but we are very happy with the results.”
If you, or someone you know may be interested in becoming a volunteer firefighter at one of Jefferson County’s seven volunteer stations, you can contact the program through social media (@StandTheHeatWV), the website (www.StandTheHeatWV.com), or by calling the program hotline at (304) 725-9111. Make sure to check out our new commercial, and help spread the word!