There is a big need for firefighters across the state.
Whenever there's an emergency, firefighters are the first ones to answer the call for help.
However, the majority of them are volunteers.
"It takes awhile to get it," said Joseph Savage of the job.
Savage, 19, is a Rocky Hill trainee and can put his gear on in 45 seconds.
He said seconds matter in an emergency.
“It’s a big commitment but it’s manageable," he said.
Finding people to make that commitment has been a struggle for departments across the state.
“I think as technology progresses, people’s lives have become more intense," said Chief Michael Garrahy, Rocky Hill Fire Department.
There are more than 300 fire departments in Connecticut and 83 percent of the staff are professionally trained volunteers.
“We were experiencing a big shortage several years ago," Garrahy said.
Garrahy said Rocky Hill's numbers were down to the mid-50s. The goal is to have 90 members.
His department partnered with the Every Day Hero CT program.
It helped them bring in 22 new recruits, including Savage.
“It’s a tough school," Savage said.
The recruits go through an intense 6-month academy and even more on-the-job training.
“It comes down to 'I really like my community, I wanted to help it out,'" Savage said.
The sense of service runs deep in Rocky Hill.
“I started when I was 18 years, I’ve been doing this for about 38 years," Garrahy said.
Garrahy said he's hoping the next round of recruits who join the ranks will have the same long-term dedication.
“This is absolutely the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done," he said. "The people we work with here are the best people I’ve ever met.”
“It’s challenging, it’s hard but it’s fun and it’s rewarding at the end of the day," Savage said.
Since 2014, the Every Day Hero program, which is a partnership with the Connecticut Fire Chiefs Association and the International Association of Fire Chiefs, has helped recruit 400 people to join the ranks in departments across Connecticut.
Anyone looking to get involved and find more information here.
Copyright 2017 WFSB (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.