Rural Fire Departments See Volunteer Drought

Thursday, November 2nd 2017, 7:01 pm
By: Karl Torp

Rural fire departments are preparing for a busy fall and winter with less staff. Many smaller fire departments rely on volunteers, but the number of volunteer firefighters are dwindling.

The Oak Cliff Fire Department has 6 paid positions and 16 volunteers. At one point, its number of volunteer firefighters was 45.

“The work load is stretched over really heavy,’ says Oak Cliff Fire Chief Blake Hutsenpillar.

His department responds to more than 800 calls are years.

We checked with other volunteer fire departments in the area and many are facing similar challenges. The Little Axe Fire Department is made up of 14 volunteers, but the department is hoping to attract at least 10 more.

Chief Hutsenpillar says less volunteer help is a trend seen in fire departments across the country.

“The way the world is now,” says Chief Hutsenpillar, "people just don’t have the time."

Meanwhile, departments are trying to recruit more volunteer help as the year’s second wildfire season starts.