by Geoff Fox
Hancock Volunteer Fire Company is three firefighters stronger as the Division of Emergency Services placed three full-time firefighters at the station.
The new firefighters started on May 15.
Chief Bobby Hoopengardner said they would be staffing the station 24 hours a day, everyday.
“This is to supplement our volunteers and our corporate drivers,” he said in an email.
A corporate dri
ver is a driver/firefighter employed by the Hancock Fire Company.
Before the start date, Hoopengardner said it would be possible to have a fire engine respond to an emergency with only a driver and be very limited as to what could be done until other units arrived with firefighters.
“Having this staffing will enable the fire company to respond for community emergencies with more staffing to take care of the emergency instead of having to wait for additional help to arrive before they can do anything,” the chief said.
ot work in the same station they volunteer in so all the full-time firefighters are from outside Hancock.
Captain Kevin Schrock, one of the new full-time firefighters is originally from Johnstown, Pa., was in Atlanta before coming to Hancock.
Hoopengardner said the volunteers and corporate drivers have been out training the new firefighters how to drive and operate the engines since they started.
“All the drivers have driven fire equipment in other stations it is just a matter of them learning our equipment and our response area,” Hoopengardner said.
As far as firefighting training, the chief said they went through a fire academy before they were sent to the stations.
Schrock said the firefighters are in the station 24/7 to respond to emergencies within the coverage areas Hancock services.
While not on a call, firefighters are maintaining equipment, such as hose testing, and getting to know the area.
In being in the Hancock area for the last couple days, Schrock was on his third shift las
t Friday, he said the first two days were getting used to the area.
Since they are full-time firefighters, they are quartered at the station.
“The department here did a lot of renovations to get ready for us, which is phenomenal,” Schrock said. “We’re very appreciative for everything they’ve done.”
In his three shifts, Schrock couldn’t remember exactly how many calls he had run, but thinks it was three or four.
“Some shifts have been busier than others, but just luck of the draw,” he said with a laugh.
When asked if he’d prefer the days when it isn’t busy, Schrock said he prefers to be busy, as do most of the guys.
“Hancock’s a very diverse area with what they do out here with the area that they cover and calls they run,” he said.
The staff already at Hancock Fire Company and the new guys have been getting along well and everyone is mingling together.
Schrock said they’ve already been meeting firefighters from around the area, although he hadn’t gotten to meet any fire departments other than Berkeley Springs.