West Virginia State Fire Marshal Ken Tyree traveled to Upshur County Tuesday to congratulate a Buckhannon-Upshur High School marketing class on their efforts to help Upshur County fire departments recruit more volunteers. From left are Dr. Justin Bowers, John Roby, Kevin Huffman, commission president Kristie Tenney, Randy Sanders, Zach Davis, Tyree and fire chief JB Kimble. / Photo by Monica Zalaznik

State fire marshal commends high school class on marketing campaign to recruit volunteer firefighters

BUCKHANNON – The West Virginia State Fire Marshal commended a local high school class and Upshur County fire departments for their efforts to raise awareness about volunteerism.

A Buckhannon-Upshur High School business marketing class created a campaign to encourage people to volunteer at local fire departments – and state fire marshal Ken Tyree took notice. The ‘Be One For All’ campaign included student-designed posters, banners, shirts and rack cards that were featured and displayed during the Strawberry Festival.

Tyree said he read about the project and wanted to come down to Buckhannon to learn more, so he joined local officials at the Buckhannon Fire Department May 24.

“The fact of the matter is, everyone needs volunteers – whether it be the local Lions Club, the fire department, people need volunteers – and so anything that anybody can do to try to fix this problem, I’ll be there to see if I can do anything even if it’s nothing but coming and saying ‘thank you’ and trying to network to understand what might drive something that I might potentially be able to share and promote, help support throughout the rest of the state,” Tyree said.

He said one element of this project that encouraged him the most was the participation of the high school class.

“We all have cell phones, iPads, computers, and for at least a 90-minute period in Dr. (Justin) Bowers’ class, you have young people that may be engaged with electronic devices but on a limited basis, thinking about others, trying to market a product and market volunteerism,” Tyree said. “That’s really what stuck out to me that you got young people engaged in a good work and a good cause.”

Tyree expressed interest in participating in the class next school year.

“I will be meeting with Chief Kimble, Dr. Bowers and others that have been involved with it to see if it’s something that we can package and try to help other fire departments,” Tyree said.

Buckhannon fire chief JB Kimble said it can be hard to find volunteers who have the time to dedicate to the fire house.

“People only have so much time and I know with my daughter traveling for softball and my son with baseball, my wife and I divide and conquer every weekend,” Kimble said. “I’m fortunate to be career staff; I can’t imagine going to work 40 to 60 hours a week and then they have to come and do paperwork and run calls by themselves, it’s really changed in my 31 years.”

More information about the class and their final product can be found here.

Upshur County Commissioner Kristie Tenney also wanted to thank Shanda Hoover, owner of Mountain Momma Market, for taking several pictures of the fire department for the project free of charge.

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