Volunteer fire departments struggle with lack of volunteers

Published: Apr. 27, 2021 at 6:13 PM EDT
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KENOVA, W.Va. (WSAZ) - When responding to emergencies, Zach Lyons says having help is crucial to the job.

“It’s always like a safety worry or a safety concern when you don’t have that many people there, because you can only exert yourself so much,” Lyons said.

Lyons is a volunteer firefighter at the Ceredo Volunteer Fire Department -- and just like fire departments across our region and the nation, fewer people are willing to answer the call.

“We take the calls as we can and we’ve gotten much quicker about calling for mutual aid from other departments because we know we’re gonna be short staffed. We don’t know what kind of response they’re gonna have, because they’re also having the same problems we are,” Kenova Volunteer Fire Chief Jamie Stoner said.

The Kenova Fire Department generally has 30 volunteers. However, they’re down to 22 at this time.

Chief Stoner says this is because their crew members have full-time jobs, or have retired and moved on.

Many volunteer departments try to spark interest early with their junior volunteer fire programs.

“Sixteen, seventeen, those are the future of the fire department. If we can train them at sixteen or seventeen, they’re ready to go at eighteen,” Stoner said.

People who spend each day lending help to others -- they’re now needing some help in return.

Stoner says anyone who is interested in learning more about volunteering can come to their Tuesday evening meetings at the fire department.

If you’d like to participate in a junior firefighter program or become a volunteer at any volunteer fire department across our region, all you have to do is call the department or reach out on social media.

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