The Delta Record | B-UHS students provide marketing skills to Buckhannon Fire Department

BUCKHANNON — Buckhannon-Upshur High School (B-UHS) students work on their marketing skills. The students were asked to join the 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 B-UHS marketing students and their teacher Justin Bowers through the firehouse and discussed many aspects of the job. In greeting the students, Chief Kimble explained that after talking with Bowers and Commissioner Kristie Tenney, it was decided to involve the marketing students in a volunteer firefighter recruitment and retention plan.

Chief Kimble gave the students a tour of the firehouse and discussed the history of the Buckhannon Fire Department. The first stop on the tour was a brass post in the hallway now used as a handrail. The pole was originally used in the original location of the two-storey Buckhannon Fire Department opposite the courthouse. So when a call came in, the firefighters left the second floor bunk using the pole to get to the first floor. Kimble said, “We like to keep the story here.”

Kimble provided the students with information on firefighting and equipment and the students followed suit with good questions. The students were very interested in the equipment and even got to work with a thermal imaging device. Kimble also offered students to try on evening wear. There were a few students who were very excited to try it out. Kimble said protective gear and an SCBA (self-contained breathing apparatus) add an additional 40 pounds to a person. Carrying that extra weight is why it’s important for firefighters to maintain a training regimen to stay in shape, which led Chief Kimble to show students this fitness area.

The students asked questions during their visit, including how much does a fire truck cost and if someone who wants to be a firefighter has asthma, how would that work? Kimble said a fire truck today would cost around $500,000. Kimble noted that there are currently no medical exemptions from being a volunteer firefighter, but with respiratory issues one may not pass the tests.

The students then discussed what they had learned during their visit and asked further questions in order to obtain information for their marketing project. Bowers noted that there were several goals with this project and one is that they hope to have images and information for the completed posters before the Strawberry Festival. Marketing materials should be launched and displayed during the fire 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 in the first month and another goal is to gain at least 20 new contacts for potential volunteers.

The students said they plan to create posters and business cards with a QR code to direct interested people to a landing page providing information. The code would then allow future fire departments to reach these people. The students have developed many ideas and thoughts for the process and seem genuinely enthusiastic and interested in working on this project.

Further information will be obtained once marketing plans and materials have been completed.

William L. Hart