Greenville looking to hire more paid-on-call firefighters

By Kelli Ameling • Last Updated 5:20 pm on Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Greenville Department of Public Safety (GDPS) on-call firefighters Jim Hopkins, left, and Tim Foster, are the two most senior on-call firefighters of the 15 total that are on the department. The GDPS is currently searching for additional on-call firefighters to join the department. — Daily News/Cory Smith

GREENVILLE — A job that takes a lot of heart and dedication is one that two senior-level paid-on-call firefighters have been committed to for six decades combined.

Greenville residents Tim Foster, who has been with the Greenville Department of Public Safety for 36 years, and Jim Hopkins, who joined the GDPS 24 years ago, said being firefighters is a job that builds a strong secondary family.

“Their commitment and dedication have been a real asset to the city and the department,” said Public Safety Director Michael Pousak of Foster and Hopkins.

Both men reflected on their career at the department and highlighted why they love doing what they do.

“It’s not just the excitement or the adrenalin of when the pager goes off,” said Foster, noting he followed in his father’s steps to become a firefighter. “It’s the common atmosphere with the guys who become a second family — we rely on each other.”

The Greenville Department of Public Safety, which has 15 paid on-call firefighters, is searching for additional on-call firefighters to join the department. — Daily News/Cory Smith

Hopkins, who has known Foster most of his life and credits Foster for the reason he joined the department as a paid-on-call firefighter, said he agrees about the department being a second family.

“It’s a brotherhood,” Hopkins said.

The most important thing about being a firefighter is helping others.

Hopkins said one fire that sticks out in his mind is when a house caught fire on Fifth Street and it ended up being a total loss with only one room left standing. The homeowner thanked the firefighters for saving the house because it was that one room that had everything that was important to the homeowner.

“We were able to save what meant the most to that person,” said Hopkins, noting the feeling of helping that person is what makes the job worth it.

Both Foster and Hopkins said firefighters must have heart and dedication.

“When people are running out, we choose to run in,” Hopkins said.

The skills Foster and Hopkins have developed over the years is what the department is looking for.

“Having veteran people like Tim and Jim on the department has provided us with firefighters who have a vast amount of knowledge and experience regarding the equipment and firefighting skills, which serve as a resource in handling various incidents and assist with training newer members of the department,” Pousak said.

Currently, the Greenville Department of Public Safety has 15 paid-on-call firefighters. Pousak said without them, the full-time officers would have to rely on assistance from outside agencies on a continuous basis.

“The people who dedicate their time and energy to be our paid-on-call firefighters are the backbone of our agency’s fire suppression and emergency response efforts,” Pousak said.

The department is currently looking to hire more paid-on-call firefighters to its force. Applicants must be 18 years old and the department would prefer them to have Fire Fighter I and II certification.

Chosen firefighters will have four months of in-house training and will be on a probationary period for one year. Once hired, firefighters will continue to receive monthly training.

“It’s all worth it to go through it,” Foster said.

Applications can be found on the city website — — and should include copies of pertinent certifications.

Greenville Department of Public Safety on-call firefighters Jim Hopkins right, and Tim Foster, drive Engine 1 out of the fire station at Greenville City Hall last week. Hopkins and Foster have been with the department a combined 60 years. — Daily News/Cory Smith

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