SALEM, Va. (WFXR) – A little help goes a long way.
Valley Metro, a public transportation provider for the Roanoke Valley, recently made a donation to help recruits at Roanoke Fire-EMS.
“It gives us a lot of opportunities,” says Chief David Hoback of Roanoke Fire-EMS. “We can bring the recruits no matter where we’re going, whether it’s to an off-site burn or an off-site training center. We can all commute together and have reliable transportation.”
The department started meeting with Valley Metro officials last year after they decided their previous transportation vehicle, a 30-year-old Roanoke County school bus, was in need of replacement.
After receiving a surplus of buses and by meeting the needed qualifications of a donation, which has to be less than $5,000 in value according to Roanoke Fire-EMS, the Valley Metro Board of Directors approved the generous donation.
Since July, the bus has been stationed at the department’s Training Center, a facility used to train personnel from Roanoke Fire-EMS (City of Roanoke), Roanoke County Fire and Rescue (County of Roanoke), and Salem Fire-EMS (City of Salem). A variety of training is conducted in this facility, from the Roanoke Regional Fire-EMS Academy to continuing education for both fire and Emergency Medical Services.
Chief Hoback says all three departments have seen a lot of turnover with their employees due to retirement, but in recent years, he has seen better recruitment numbers for more manageable recruit schools. With their newest bus model, he hopes those numbers continue to grow.
“We can wrap it, put our website on it, put the phone number of how to call and be part of the Roanoke Fire-EMS team, and it will be a great recruitment tool for us. So we intend to wrap this bus from head-to-toe so it does reflect the partnership we have and also will attract people to come and work for us,” says Chief Hoback.
With quality air conditioning and plenty of space, the department is also hoping to use the former Valley Metro bus as a rehab unit for local firefighters on scenes with large fires or extreme weather conditions.
By continuing training through a regional approach with all three fire departments, Chief Hoback says additional support provided by the bus can only help them respond better to situations in the community.
“We often respond – Salem responds in the City, we respond into Salem, County responds to the City, we respond to the County, County responds to the city of Salem – so that regional cooperation is a benefit to our community. And then also when we have this bus fully wrapped, the more quality candidates we can attract for jobs working for one of those three jurisdictions, the better off our community will be,” says Chief Hoback.
The training center’s first of two recruit schools are already set to graduate. The ceremony will take place on Friday, October 18 at 10 a.m. at Lakeside Baptist Church.
If you’re interested in joining Roanoke Fire-EMS, visit their website here.