Christiansburg teen fire academy starts Thursday, sheds light on nationwide firefighter shortage


The 2nd annual Christiansburg Teen Fire Academy starts Thursday morning, and officials say it’s a good way for teens to get hands-on experience in the public service field.

“They’re still young,” said Billy Hanks, chief at Christiansburg Fire Department.

“They don’t know what career path they want to take. We’re hoping we can plant that little seed in them that will make them want to be a firefighter and a medic and to be able to come back and give back to the community.”

Hanks says his department is lucky to have a full staff of 40 volunteers, but that is not the case nationwide. He says the camp sheds light on the nationwide firefighter shortage.

“Fire and EMS agencies all over the state of Virginia and the nation are begging for medics and firefighters right now,” said Hanks.

According to the latest data from the National Fire Protection Association, the number of volunteer firefighters dropped 6 percent in 2017. Hanks hopes the camp will fill that gap.

Campers will get the opportunity to learn basic training skills like search and rescue, tying knots, and handling gear.

Teen Fire Academy starts Thursday and ends Friday at the Christiansburg Fire Department.

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