Volunteer turnout hiked with pay incentive

Thu, 10/26/2006 - 3:22pm
By: John Munford

A program to pay volunteer firefighters for responding to more calls in Peachtree City has been declared a success and will continue.

Fire Chief Stony Lohr said since the program began, volunteer staffing has risen by an average of 2.28 volunteers per call.

A total of $13,253 has been paid to volunteer firefighters under the arrangement, well under the initial projected budget of $34,000 for the six-month trial project. If the city had instead hired two full-time firefighters to handle the duties, it would have cost about $100,000 including salary and benefits, Lohr told the City Council at a briefing Thursday night.

There are some times each week when the fire department knows not to expect much volunteer response, with one of those being the morning drive time as citizens commute to Atlanta, Lohr explained.

But there are some volunteers who are serving full shifts at fire stations, Lohr said. Many of those volunteers are looking to get experience and training so they can gain a full-time firefighting job, Lohr noted.

Not all volunteer firefighters who qualify to receive the additional payments have participated in the stipend program, Lohr said.

Volunteer firefighters qualify for a small payment for each incident they respond to when summoned, ranging from $5.42 to $13.54 depending on the volunteer’s level of experience. No volunteer can earn more than $750 in a six-month period.

The department wants to have between three and four volunteers responding to each call, but in 2005 the average was 1.36 volunteers per call, down from 1.89 in 2004.

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