Kingston Fire District attracts volunteers with tuition reimbursements

Kingston Fire District attracts volunteers with tuition reimbursements. (WJAR)

The Kingston Fire District is utilizing over $200,000 in federal grant money to help attract more University of Rhode Island students to its all-volunteer department. The money is being used to buy new gear for more firefighters, and also to provide tuition reimbursement for students who join the department as firefighters.

"Were we not here, they would need to have a full-time career department,” said Kingston chief, Nate Barrington of the importance of keeping a large contingent of volunteer staff.

Barrington told NBC 10 that once a volunteer has been accepted into the training program and completed his/her training to become a firefighter, he/she can earn up to $5,000 each year in tuition reimbursement.

URI grad student and rugby player, Rachel Gomes is taking advantage of the program.

"I wanted to volunteer in my community and this is a good way to do it,” said Gomes. "We were going over how much time we put in to training, and it's about two thousand hours a year - like a full time job amount, so the fact that they get something back in return is important."

That reimbursement money doesn't even reflect the savings for student volunteers to live in the fire house if they choose to do so. That could be worth up to $10,000 in rent or on-campus housing according to Barrington.

For information about the Kingston Fire District and how to volunteer, visit its website.

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