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Shortage of volunteer firefighters in Madison County

The Monrovia Volunteer Fire Department is seeing fewer people sign up to volunteer their time at the station. Monrovia Volunteer Fire Department Chief Kris West...
Credit: TEGNA
0218 VOLUNTEER FIREFIGHTERS KK

The Monrovia Volunteer Fire Department is seeing fewer people sign up to volunteer their time at the station.

Monrovia Volunteer Fire Department Chief Kris West says a shortage of volunteers isn’t just impacting his fire department. He says the shortage is impacting every community in Madison County.

As Huntsville grows, so do the amount of calls volunteer fire departments get. The Monrovia Volunteer Fire Department got just shy of 2,000 calls last year. To put that into perspective, they only have 30 volunteers, and not all of them are EMTs.

“As Madison County grows, which we like it to, we want it to, the calls increase, the population increases, people move into town, and so with that comes more demand or requests for volunteers to run those calls,” said Captain Blake Mathis with the Monrovia Volunteer Fire Department.

Out of all the fire departments in Alabama, nearly 90% of them are volunteer. In Madison County, there are two career fire departments and about 16 volunteer fire departments.

RELATED: Monrovia volunteer firefighters get live fire training

Because there’s a lack of people volunteering, a big burden is put on the existing firefighters.

Mathis said, “Pretty much all of our volunteers have full time jobs and families and commitments elsewhere, and they do this for free. We have many volunteers that will actually leave their job in a severe call, like a house fire or something like that.”

Captain Blake Mathis talks about incentives for volunteer firefighters.

To try and find a solution, the Monrovia Volunteer Fire Department recently started a retention and recruitment committee. They say there are many factors that contribute to the shortage, but a big reason could be that people change jobs more often now.

Mathis said, “The average job span in general is two to five years, depends on which statistics you look at, so people are switching jobs, and with that comes responsibility, new jobs, they may not have time to volunteer.”

To apply to be a volunteer at the Monrovia Volunteer Fire Department, click here.

To apply at your local fire department, just contact them.

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