“It’s important for anyone who wants to apply to talk with their family first,” he said. “It’s difficult. There will be calls during dinnertime; there will be calls in the middle of the night when they have to work the next day. It takes dedication and an understanding family.”
However, it is worth it, Powers said, and it’s not about pay; it’s about duty and the satisfaction that comes from serving the community.
“The biggest incentive for me is helping my community,” firefighter Paul Swaim said. “It has to be something you are called to do, but there is nothing more satisfying than what you see in someone’s eyes when you are there to help them.”
Swaim, 31, is a family man with two children living in Wilmore and served in the United States Air Force. Currently, he works as an operations manager for Amazon.com in Lexington, but he’s also a recent addition to the Wilmore fire department.
“I talked to my wife about it first; we prayed about it, and I saw a smile of pride in her eyes and my boys light up, and I knew it was the right decision,” he said. “I love raising my children in Wilmore, and being a firefighter gives me a chance to give back to the community I care about and the community my family cares about.”
Swaim also said “there is nothing like the camaraderie” that is built working alongside his firefighting brethren. But it is not an easy road, he said, and takes real commitment to listen, learn and train but most importantly work well with those whose lives depend on you.
“The training is top-notch,” Swaim said. “There is a lot of experience here to learn from.”
The chief said they have taken recruits as young as 18 and do a good portion of the training in-house but also send recruits out for additional training at no cost to the recruit.
Many firefighter recruits tend to stay on with Wilmore through the years, but several have gone on to become full-time firefighters in Nicholasville, Lexington and other larger cities due to the training they received through volunteering with the Wilmore department. Even some of those who work in the larger cities continue to volunteer with Wilmore when they are off duty, Powers said.
“We want recruits to live in the city, that’s important too,” he said. “It’s important to be a part of the community we serve.”
Powers said he is looking for “people with a good nature” who earnestly want to help their community and fellow citizens by utilizing firefighter training.
In truth, Wilmore receives few fire calls in the city, he said, but the job also consists of assisting other agencies when needed, including county fire, police and emergency services.
“No matter how small the call, from a false alarm at Asbury to a wreck out there in the county,” Powers said, “we represent the city of Wilmore and take each call seriously and professionally, and need recruits willing to live up to that standard.”