NEW HANOVER COUNTY -- Changes are taking place within New Hanover County's fire departments. Full-time, paid firefighters will no longer be able to volunteer in their free time. Starting April 10 full-time firefighters will be compensated for their currently "volunteer" services. New Hanover County Fire Chief Donnie Hall said, "Due to recent interruptions by consults with the fair standard labor act for wage an hour, we have been informed that we might want to revise that policy." In the next six months the county will be working with volunteer departments to find replacements for the staff they will be losing. "We have made temporary concessions to help out with staffing so their is no decline, to give us time to recruit new volunteer and training people to have them to have the ability go to working in these area," Hall said. Hall says the typical volunteer firefighter needs 200-240 hours of training. Once the volunteer stations are fully staffed the paid firefighters will stop volunteering. "We have about 20 staff members now that currently volunteer around the county, those staff have variant levels, will have to actually resign from service as a firefighter with those corporation." Chief Hall says don't worry; your safety will not be compromised. "The community should not notice any difference service delivery that the fire service has been providing in the last several years," Hall said. This story was first brought to our attention by a volunteer firefighter who is worried that losing the paid firefighters will have a negative impact on his department.
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