Volunteer fire department numbers dwindling

Volunteer fire department numbers dwindling

DAVIESS CO., Ky. (WFIE) - Dwindling volunteer fire departments have two Western Kentucky chiefs concerned.

With fewer volunteers, there are fewer people to respond to a fire or an emergency.

“You know what if no one showed up? You know what happens to the public if they’re expecting protection and no one comes?" said Airport-Sorgho Fire Department Chief Pat Thompson.

Pat Thompson has been a volunteer firefighter for more than three decades. He says things have shifted with less people on the force.

According to the National Volunteer Fire Council, 65 percent of all firefighters in the U.S. in 2016 were volunteers.

“So, you know, over the years those numbers have just dwindled down to where, you know, you had a roster of forty, and now you have a roster of thirty," said Thompson. “And then you only have so many of those to chose from at certain times of the day."

To make up for lost volunteers, Thruston-Philpott Volunteer Fire Department Chief Bob Newman says firefighters are working for two departments.

“I’m fortunate that I have a couple firefighters that are either on Davies County or Owensboro Fire that started with us and are still with us at this time," said Thruston-Philpot Fire Department Chief Bob Newman.

Both Newman and Thompson worry as the generation of veterans on the force get older, there aren’t enough younger volunteers to move up the ranks.

“If you have some time that you could possibly donate to your local fire department and become a firefighter and help protect the citizens of your community, you need to take a real close look at it,” said Thompson.

If you’re interested in becoming a volunteer firefighter in Daviess County, officials say you can go to your local fire department’s website or Facebook page, or you can go to the department and start the application process in person.

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