WDBJ7 Staff Writer
8:42 PM EST, November 26, 2012
When there's fire in our area, there's a very good chance that volunteer firefighters will answer the call.
But the number of volunteers for some departments is shrinking.
WDBJ7 spent some time with some volunteer and staff firefighters in Radford.
They say they're committed to their jobs, but they also know there's a fine line.
One volunteer says they never have what they need, and they could always use more volunteers.
The City of Radford Fire Chief Lee Simpkins agrees.
"Presently we have 21 volunteers and in all honesty we are in desperate need of volunteers that want to be firefighters," he said.
Simpkins says it plain and simple. And he's asking for what most fire department in Southwest Virginia and across the country need more volunteer firefighters.
The backbone of every single firehouse, in every single community.
National numbers show that firefighters answer twice as many calls today as they did more than 30 years ago.
And how about this number? The average volunteer serves about 5 years, and then quits. Citing family pressures, bills to pay, and burnout.
And before one can volunteer to volunteer, they must go through at least 144 hours of training.
John Butler is a volunteer firefighter for six years now. He says sometimes the public doesn't realize, this job is a load.
"I just don't think they're aware of the full extent of what we go through, the training. The after hours stuff, drills, business meetings, cause the fire department is a business, even in the volunteer," he said.
Fewer volunteers mean slower response times. Reaching their arrival goal of six minutes to a scene, happens less then 50 % of the time at some stations.
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