The Botetourt County Department of Fire & EMS has hired its first full-time Recruitment & Retention Specialist. Taylor Lunsford, a Botetourt native, has been selected to lead the recruitment and retention efforts of the department.
In the early 2000s, the department had a similar grant funded position in a part-time capacity, which was vacated when grant funds ran out. In 2019, Chief Jason Ferguson and the Fire & EMS Commis- sion identified this position as a crucial position to the continued efforts to recruit and retain a volun- teer workforce for fire and EMS response. The position received approval for funding effective January 1, 2020, then due to COVID-19, was frozen until recently.
Lunsford, who has previously volunteered with the Fincastle Volunteer Fire Department, has a back- ground in marketing and graphic design, serving in a similar position for the past five years. She is a graduate of Lord Botetourt High School and resides in the Blue Ridge area with her husband Ryan. “Growing up, my family has always put an emphasis on serving in the community and helping others. I am excited for the opportunity and privilege to serve in this capacity,” Lunsford said.
“I am thrilled to have Taylor on the team. She has a true passion for giving this opportunity her all and already has some excellent insight on volunteerism, both from her volunteer time in Fincastle, as well as serving in a role responsible for coordinating volunteers of other non-profits. I look forward to great things from Taylor’s work,” Chief Ferguson said.
Most recently, the department has been involved in the kickoff process of the fourth phase of a federal grant known as SAFER, whereby a team from the International Association of Fire Chiefs visited with fire and EMS stakeholders in the fall of 2020. This month, the team’s report on recommendations for focused volunteer recruitment and retention was received and is in the process of being reviewed for implementation. “Taylor is coming at such a pivotal time for our department. Her added capacity to help focus on and support volunteer efforts will be welcomed,” Ferguson said.
“The addition of Taylor to this crucial position for volunteers could not be happening at a better time. As a participant on the initial interview panel, I feel certain Taylor is the right fit for the system and will do very well,” said Recruitment & Retention Workgroup Chair C.J. Boothe.
Lunsford officially began with the department on March 8.