DOVER – Gov. Jack Markell thanked members of the Delaware Volunteer Firefighters Association for their dedication to public service Friday and pledged to work with the local companies to boost recruitment.
“The idea that the vast majority of fire protection in this state is provided by volunteers is remarkable,” Markell told the annual DVFA’s annual convention at the Dover Sheraton.
Markell asked local companies to come up with ideas for increasing recruitment to ensure the local volunteer service remains an important part of Delaware’s public safety efforts. The Governor will be meeting with DVFA President Kevin L. Wilson later this year to discuss possible actions the state can take to assist fire companies in finding new members.
“In this day and age, it is tough for any organization to get people involved,” Markell said. “We are all busy with our own lives, with some pulled in too many different directions and others cocooned and increasingly cut off from their communities. . . . How do we reach out to younger people, find those who are interested in serving their communities and connect them with the fire service? How do we encourage businesses and other employers to support employees who answer hundreds of alarms a year? How do we spread the word that, beyond firefighters ambulance attendants and fire police, your companies also need doctors, lawyers, accountants, secretaries and mechanics? Markell also showed his appreciation for Delaware’s first responders July 31, when he visited the Delaware City Fire Station, when he signed House Bill 204, in memory of paramedic Michelle Smith. The new law ensures that any person who recklessly kills one of Delaware’s first responders is eligible to be punished to the fullest extent of the law with a charge of first-degree murder. The legislation extends a protection that already existed for law enforcement officers and firefighters to paramedics and EMTs as well.