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Augusta County Fire & Rescue Volunteers Dwindling - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Augusta County Fire & Rescue Volunteers Dwindling

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Augusta County is growing and so is the need for fire and rescue - but a system based on volunteers has fewer people signing up to give their time.

Jane Cole is graduating from the Augusta County Fire Academy.

"It's hard I will say that. There's a whole lot of hours dedicated to it,” said Cole.

Cole spent more than 250 total hours in the classroom learning about firefighting, vehicle extrication, and hazardous materials.

"I have four kids and it was a lot of time away from home,” said Cole.

Augusta County Fire Training Captain Chris Shaver says Cole is part of a declining pool of volunteers - a problem they didn't have 15 years ago.

"There's absolutely no way that we can function without the volunteers,” said Shaver.

Six of Augusta County's 15 fire stations are only staffed with volunteers.

"We can't afford as a county to have paid staff in every station,” said Larry Wills, Augusta County Board of Supervisors chairman.

Wills says the drop in volunteers is due to money – and time.

"The economy has come along and has put stress where people have had to take two and three jobs,” said Wills.

"The number of hours they're required to put in is what's going up,” said Shaver.

In fact, Firefighter 1 certification is going up from 144 hours to 160 hours starting July 1. If you ask Cole, she says it's worth it.

"I'd do it again starting tomorrow,” said Cole. "It's a way to give back to your community.

It's a way to serve your community. It's a way to just help your neighbor."

If you'd like information on the Augusta County Fire Academy or about volunteering for fire and rescue, click here.

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