Tuesday, June 26th, 2012 9:06 am
By Kelli Wynn
For the Dayton Daily News
The number of volunteer firefighters in Ohio dropped by 6.5 percent from 2009 to 2011, a trend experts attribute to stricter training requirements and a lagging economy that makes it a challenge to recruit.
Many area fire departments rely heavily on volunteers to help with emergencies and to save their governments money. The state had 14,911 volunteers last year, down from 15,949 in 2009, according to the Ohio Department of Public Safety’s Division of EMS.
“Time is a factor. Requirements to become a firefighter have been increasing and call volume has been increasing,” said Kimberly Quiros, director of communications for the National Volunteer Fire Council in Maryland.
“With the economy, often times people may have to commute longer distances (to get to and from their paying jobs) or hold on to several different jobs.”
“It’s hard to balance a full-time job, working somewhere and then personal commitments and all the requirements it takes to keep your certification,” said Butler Township Fire Chief Dan Alig. “Would you rather volunteer for free or go get a job elsewhere that pays?”
Butler Township Fire Department in Montgomery County does not have a volunteer program, but does have six full-time firefighters and 30 part-timers.
“We’re trying to get a (volunteer) program up and running this year,” Alig said, adding that his department wants to provide an opportunity for those who are recently certified to get experience in fire and EMS service.
The number of volunteer firefighters has dropped by 14 percent nationwide since 1984, but volunteers still make up about 70 percent of firefighters in the United States, according to the nonprofit fire council.
Read the full article on DaytonDailyNews.com.