While the Lutz Volunteer Fire Department will change the way it operates as of Jan. 1, that doesn’t mean Hillsborough County isn’t interested in having some extra hands to help out around its stations.
Fire Rescue Chief Ron Rogers is so serious about keeping volunteers in the mix, he’s scheduled a number of upcoming public meetings to discuss his agency’s new reserve responder program.
The first of five meetings takes place Monday, Dec. 3 at 6:30 p.m. at the Brandon Regional Service Center, 311 Pauls Drive. A Lutz meeting is also set for Dec. 6 at 6:30 p.m. at the Lutz Community Center, 98 1st Ave. N.W.
During the meetings, Rogers and other representatives from fire rescue will discuss such topics as:
- The changes they can expect with the county’s six volunteer fire stations
- How the county intents to keep the volunteer spirit alive
- The reserve responder program, which will operate with a volunteer force
- How residents can help the agency in its mission to keep Hillsborough safe
Hillsborough County Commissioners voted unanimously Nov. 15 to adopt a plan that essentially replaced all six of the county’s volunteer fire departments.
The plan creates the reserve program that will utilize current and incoming volunteers. It also adds 78 new career firefighting positions to the county’s roster. Those positions will be funded out of a $5.24 million budget request that was also approved today. The money will be “drawn down” from that multi-million-dollar pool as positions are filled.
Rogers presented the plan to the commission and outlined the benefits of having career firefighters and volunteers work together.
“It’s really a pretty significant change,” Rogers said. “The volunteers were pretty much autonomous. We’re trying to integrate the volunteers into that (fire rescue’s) team.”
The reserve program goes into effect on Jan. 1. Volunteers who meet the county’s minimum requirements can serve in a number of positions including:
- Reserve Firefighter I
- Reserve Firefighter II
- Reserve Firemedic I
- Reserve Paramedic
- Reserve Fire Officer
- Reserve Specialist
- Reserve Advisory Committee
To bolster involvement in the program, Fire Rescue is hosting two upcoming recruitment events on Dec. 1 and Dec. 15 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at 2709 E. Hanna Ave. in Tampa.
“We want anyone that wants to assist with what we do to be able to,” Rogers said during the Nov. 15 meeting.
The full Fire Rescue Volunteer Transition Plan is available online.
Other upcoming community meetings take place:
Wednesday, Dec. 5, 6:30 p.m.
South Shore Regional Service Center
410 30th St. SE in Ruskin
Monday, Dec. 17, 6:30 p.m.
Mango Recreation Center
11717 Clay Pit Road in Seffner
Tuesday, Dec. 18, 6:30 p.m.
Cork Elementary School, Multi-Purpose Room
3501 N. Cork Road in Plant City