Fireground Safety

Report: Pennsylvania Volunteer Firefighter Shortage Dire; Crisis Could Expand Nationwide

A FOX News report looked at the continued decline in volunteer firefighters in the state of Pennsylvania.

The report cites state officials warning that the rest of the country could find itself in a similar position soon, since almost 70 percent of U.S. fire departments rely on volunteers. The National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) ties the lack of volunteers to several factors, including the transience of modern lifestyles, the need for many residents to have multiple jobs to make ends meet, and the inflexibility of some employment schedules, among other things. The NVFC additional says that because more than half of the volunteer firefighters in the country are over 40 years old, there will be dire consequences if departments can’t find ways to attract young volunteers.

“We can’t fight a structure fire with four guys on a truck. If that’s the only truck on the road, I have to call other departments, two or three departments most of the time,” said Stroudsburg Township Fire Chief William Unruh.

Read more HERE.

A report released last year noted that the number of volunteer firefighters in Pennsylvania was at a crisis point. The 95-page legislative study said there were about 300,000 volunteer firefighters in the state in the ‘70s, a number that’s fallen to about 38,000 currently. Download the full 2018 report HERE.

Such shortages of firefighters are not confined to Pennsylvania. A recent report from WRAL looked at the diminshed state of volunteer fire departments in North Carolina. Over the past few years reports have noted a dearth of volunteers in diverse locations around North America, from Radcliff, Kentucky, to the Canadian hamlet of Fort Liard in the Northwest Territories, the latter of which suspended firefighting services in the community because there weren’t enough trained volunteers to do the job safely. Funding for volunteer firefighting efforts is also an issue. Early in 2018, North Carolina volunteer fire departments sent a letter seeking additional funding from the Person County government, with some saying the situation was so dire they may need to close their doors.

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