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Escambia County Volunteer Firefighter Stipends Going Up

photo via Flickr// liz west

More than 100 volunteer firefighters in Escambia County are set to receive some extra pay.

The Escambia County Commission is expected to approve a new stipend policy when it meets on Thursday. That would raise monthly payments of $200-$500 for Escambia County Fire-Rescue personnel who answer calls and meet basic requirements.

“Each position is done by rank, whether the person’s a trainee, to that of district fire chief,” said Escambia Fire-Rescue Chief Mike Weaver. “Each one of those positions will receive an additional $100 per month. In Escambia County we rely heavily on our volunteer firefighters.”

Weaver also hopes that the extra money will mean more people will consider joining the volunteer force, and that the effect is twofold.

“That it recruits more and retains the ones we already have,” Weaver said.

Under the new plan, a Firefighter Trainee will get $200/mo. if they have completed a 12- hour orientation course and obtains the Firefighter I rating within one year of joining EFR. Weaver says the only real prerequisite is an interest in the fire services in areas such as support or fire suppression.

“We do a physical, as well as a physical test,” said Weaver. “After that, we begin the training. The state requires that we get you trained up to Firefighter I. We do that in-house and actually online.”

A new volunteer position – Driver/Operator – is being added with a $200 monthly stipend. For many, joining as a volunteer firefighter has been a foot in the door, so to speak, towards a full-time career.

“Firefighter I is the first part of the certification process towards being a career firefighter in the State of Florida,” said Weaver. “It’s the same certification throughout the state, which is Firefighter II. Many people started out in our volunteer program – me for one – and [it] leads you to a great career.”

And just who is eligible to apply and train for a volunteer job at Escambia Fire-Rescue?

“As long as you haven’t been dead for two years,” Weaver said with a chuckle. “We start out at [age] 18; there are some stations who do some volunteer programs, but then progresses up as long as you’re willing and able.”

The new setup also provides for a retention incentive during the firefighter’s anniversary year, from $200 monthly for five years of service, up to $1,200 for 25 years. Other conditions apply as well.

More information on becoming a volunteer with Escambia Fire-Rescue is available HERE.

Dave came to WUWF in September, 2002, after 14 years as News Director at the Alabama Radio Network in Montgomery, Mobile and Birmingham and a total of 27 years in commercial radio. He's also served as Alabama Bureau Chief for United Press International, and a stringer for the Birmingham Post-Herald.