HOPE — Firefighting is a job for the young and strong and Hope needs more of them to fill the suspenders of its roster of aging volunteers.

That is the message from Hope Fire Chief Clarence Keller. His department will host a Recruitment Open House at the fire station at 475 Camden Road Nov. 6 at 2 p.m. to try to bolster numbers on its 20-person roster with more young personnel who want to tackle the tough and dangerous work.

“It is definitely a younger person’s field,” said Keller, 57. On Sept. 1, he celebrated his 34th anniversary at the Hope department.

Current standing at 20 or so, the roster of volunteers is “fairly strong people-wise,” Keller said. “But there are a lot of us getting older, and I include myself in that. While we are strong in numbers, we definitely need to be thinking about recruiting younger recruits who are willing to go in and do the firefighting, the hard work,” he said.

“We need to inspire some younger, able-bodied folks; volunteerism is kind of a dying thing, but I think there are people out there who are willing to do it,” Keller said.

And while experience is always nice to find, it is not a requirement, according to Keller; the department will train and outfit all new volunteers — and he will be “beating the bush” to find them, the chief said.

Gender and age are not issues. Although mostly male, the department has had women firefighters and has one now, according to Keller. And recently, a 50-year-old man joined, he said.

Once on the job, volunteer firefighters’ main task will be fighting interior structure fires when the alarm sounds, in Hope and surrounding towns, Keller said.

The department on average responds to 50 calls per year. Last year the number mushroomed to 70. And so far this year, the trucks have rolled on 57 calls. That means Hope is on track this year to match the 2021 figures, Keller said.

Like many departments in the region, Hope has mutual aid agreements with neighboring communities, namely Appleton, Camden, Rockport, Lincolnville, and Union.

The Hope Volunteer Fire Department was established in 1952. In addition to fighting fires and responding to other emergency calls, its volunteers “dedicate personal time and effort to maintaining equipment, meeting state and federal requirements, fire prevention education, and attending business meetings vital to the organization,” according to the town website at Hopemaine.org.

Town officials estimate that Hope’s volunteer firefighters donate more than 4,200 hours a year to the town and its more than 1,500 residents, the website states.

For more information about becoming a Hope Volunteer Firefighter, call 542-2694, or email Chief Keller at hopechief@gmail.com.