BUCKHANNON — Students from Buckhannon-Upshur High School (B-UHS) are working on their marketing skills. The students were invited to join forces with Buckhannon Fire Department on Thursday, April 7 to develop a marketing plan to recruit and retain much needed volunteer firefighters.
Buckhannon Fire Department Chief JB Kimble led the B-UHS marketing students and their teacher Justin Bowers throughout the firehouse and discussed many aspects of the job. Upon greeting the students, Chief Kimble explained, after discussing with Bowers and Commissioner Kristie Tenney, it was decided to have the marketing student aid in a plan of both recruitment and retention of volunteer firefighters.
Chief Kimble gave the students a tour of the firehouse and discussed some history of the Buckhannon Fire Department. The first stop on the tour was a brass pole in the hallway now used as a handrail. The pole was initially used in the original two-story Buckhannon Fire Department location across from the courthouse. So, when a call came in, the firemen left the bunk from the second floor by utilizing the pole to get to the first floor. Kimble said, “We like to keep the history here.”
Kimble engaged the students with information about firefighting and the equipment and students followed suit with good questions. Students were highly interested in the equipment and even got to work with a thermal imaging device. Kimble also offered students to try on turn-out gear. There were a couple students that were very excited to try it on. Kimble advised that turn-out gear and the SCBA (self-contained breathing apparatus) adds an additional 40 pounds to a person. Carrying around this extra weight is why it is important for firefighters to maintain a workout regime to stay in shape, leading Chief Kimble to show the students that fitness area.
Students asked questions during their visit, including how much a firetruck cost and if a person who wants to be a fireman has asthma, how would that work? Kimble elaborated that a firetruck today would cost around $500,000. Kimble noted that currently there are no medical exemptions from being a volunteer firefighter but with respiratory issues, one may not pass testing.
Students then discussed what they learned during their visit and asked more questions to obtain information for their marketing project. Bowers noted there are several goals with this project and one is that they hope to have some images and information for posters completed prior to the Strawberry Festival. The marketing materials are planned to be debuted and displayed during the Fireman’s Parade. Bowers also said, “Some key goals for this project are to reach new volunteers by gaining at least five volunteers in the first six months to a year. The second goal is to gain 500 social media interactions within the first month and another goal is to gain at least 20 new contacts for potential volunteers.”
Students said they are planning to make posters and business cards with a QR code to take an interested individual to a landing page providing information. The code would then allow the prospective fire departments information to reach out to those individuals. Students elaborated on many ideas and thoughts for the process and seemed genuinely excited and interested to be working on this project.
Further information will be obtained once the marketing plans and documents have been completed.