Local fire chiefs weigh in on reasons for national volunteer firefighter shortage

Local News

Many people don't have the time or means to put toward doing the job

COLUMBIANA COUNTY, Ohio (WKBN) – According to a 2020 report from the National Fire Protection Association, the number of volunteer firefighters is trending downward from 1987 to 2017, with a slight increase in 2018.But overall, volunteer departments are struggling to recruit.

“I think a lot of it is, is the population in this area has decreased since the steel mills and everything was shut down,” Chief David Ward of Liverpool Township fire department said.

People also struggle to find the time, and if both parents work and they have children, it’s harder to find the time to volunteer for this kind of work. Also, many people are working multiple jobs to make ends meet.

“The only part about volunteer that’s in this is when you volunteer to sign up,” Chief Dave McCoy of Calcutta fire department said. “After that you got state mandates and all the training that takes place to keep your certification up.”

One perk of volunteer departments is that they save money for taxpayers, which is beneficial to with less people.

“My hat’s off to all these guys that do this, and I’m not even saying at our station. I’m talking about Calcutta, Glenmoor, Wellsville. I mean, you see the guys when they come in here, they want to really do this job,” Ward said.

McCoy said they struggle with staffing during the day.

“Because of the shortage we have gone onto an automatic mutual aid with four area departments. We’ve got Liverpool Township, and our sister department Glenmoor. We’re toned automatically during the day as out personnel is very, very thin during the daylight hours,” McCoy said.

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