State leaders deliver grant checks to two Eastern Carolina fire departments

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TRENTON, NC (WITN) - State leaders deliver grant checks to two Eastern Carolina fire departments Monday totaling almost $46,000.

The first responders put themselves in harms way almost every day to help protect our communities in Eastern North Carolina and statewide. Some of those departments are now struggling to retain members.

The North Carolina Insurance Commissioner and Fire Marshal Mike Causey was in Jones County Monday. He spent the afternoon visiting insurance agencies and local fire stations. One of the main items on his agenda was addressing some of the concerns among the local firefighters.

An aging volunteer force is a concern and yearly physicals are recommeneded. Trenton Volunteer Fire Department Assistant Chief Kyle Koonce said, "We don't require a physical every year but most of the guys get a physical every year, but those are the main things. Just making sure you're still in shape, limiting yourself to what you can and can't do."

Firefighters face the obvious dangers while in-action, but they're also at an increased risk for heart and repiratory diseases, hepitatis, and cancer. Small community volunteer fire departments, like the Trenton Volunteer Fire Department in Jones County are seeing retention numbers go down. Firefighter retention is one concern Causey wants to help rectify. He said, "We're trying to find out what we can do from our office of the State Fire Marshall, which oversees the fire departments of North Carolina, to make it easier to recruit new volunteers, and things we can do to retain those volunteers."

The state office is updating equipment to improve efficientcy and safety statewide . According to the state director of the National Volunteer Firefighters Council, there is no statewide mandatory training for volunteer firefighters.