Henry County Receives Much Needed Grant For Public Safety - WSET.com - ABC13

Henry County Receives Much Needed Grant For Public Safety

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Henry Co., VA - A big boost in staffing for public safety in Henry County. The fire and EMS department is getting a $1.3 million to hire 13 more first responders.

It feels like a full time job but working at the Collinsville Fire Department doesn't come with a paycheck.

"You get into it and you just get addicted to it," said Daryl Emberson, volunteer firefighter.

For 37 years, Emberson, has juggled a paid career and family time with volunteering as a firefighter.

"It's a lot of work," said Emberson.

But he says over the past decade the number of volunteers has drastically dropped. That means he and the remaining firefighters are having to work that much harder.

"We used to could get 4 trucks on the road in 2 and a half, 3 minutes. Today 8 minutes maybe and maybe two trucks if we are lucky," said Emberson.

When volunteers can't make the calls Henry County relies on paid public safety employees. Now, with the $1.3 million grant, they will double the number of paid workers.

"We'll be able to speed up our response time because of being strategically located throughout the county," said Rodney Howell, Director of Public Service.

Howell explains they will hire 12 firefighter-paramedics to work in shifts. Plus they'll bring in a volunteer training coordinator to focus on recruiting more volunteers.

"It tickles me to death, this is a very good move on Henry County," said Emberson.

The grant covers the first two years of salaries. After that Howell expects Henry County to pick up extra costs.

"In order to maintain an adequate level of service, it's going to be continued," said Howell.

And that is something Emberson says will be a great benefit to the citizens of Henry County and the volunteers.

They are in the hiring process now. They hope to have the new employees working by March 1st.

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