Local fire department hosts drive to get more volunteers

SURFSIDE BEACH, SC (WBTW) – Earlier this summer Surfside Beach Fire Chief, Kevin Otte, said the department faced a volunteer shortage.

“There’s a national shortage of volunteers,” said Otte. “It’s not just a local thing. It’s all over the country.”

So the department did a volunteer drive over the summer to hire more men and women using signs around town and social media. Otte compared the shortage to a revolving door and said it’s the nature of the job.

“We technically will lose people through the course of time,” said Otte. “And we try to replace those people as time goes along. As we lose people we try to bring people in.”

Current volunteer, Evan D’Alessandro, is a career firefighter with Horry County Fire Rescue, but has been helping Surfside for nearly four years.

“It’s something I’ve always loved to do and something I plan on doing the rest of my life,” said D’Alessandro. “Volunteering has a lot of good things that come with it but the biggest thing is just being able to give back to the community.

The push brought in nearly 20 new volunteer applications and Otte said eight of them are trained and have already responded to calls. He’s still looking to train others who applied and were accepted.

“As time allows we’ll be able to get that training for them so we can bring them in and get them in a support role which will help us,” he added.

During the drive, the department increased the pay per call to match the county’s which is $15 a call. Chief Otte said he’s still looking to hire a few more volunteers. To get in touch with the department click: here.