Local Fire Department’s Roadside Pitch to New Recruits - Northern Michigan's News Leader

Local Fire Department’s Roadside Pitch to New Recruits

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A Wexford County fire department isn't hiding the fact that numbers are low; in fact they're blatantly asking for recruits on their sign.

This is the 21st century version of "Uncle Sam Wants You," promising paid training classes and money for working.

"It's a never-ending battle [to recruit people]," says Tony Letizio, fire chief in South Branch Township since April. "We want as many able-bodied people as we can get."

Not long ago Letizio only had six people on his active roster. He's increased that to eight in the last few months, but he won't feel comfortable until he has at least a dozen.

"It's tough because you have to have at least two people to go on any call."

Typical problems plague this volunteer department: those who think they can't work full-time and volunteer, those who don't think firefighting isn't for them, among them. But this is also a sparsely populated area without the resources of neighboring townships.

Still Letizio is determined and he'll give you his sales pitch whenever he can. A hearing-impaired gentleman recently signed-up to volunteer, and now Letizio is trying to find an interpreter to help him take his firefighting certification classes.

The next session of classes begins Jan. 14th. Classes run for several months, two nights a week in Reed City.

"Your training's free," says Letizio. "You're going to pay top-dollar for a college class, this is basically a college class but we pay for it."

For more information, contact Tony Letizio at 231-884-3395.

9&10's Michael Kasiborski and photojournalist Anthony Zyber have more on the recruiting push.