With Fire Departments Struggling for Volunteers, States Respond to the Alarm

  • Source: The Pew Charitable Trusts
  • Published: 04/24/2023 12:00 AM

When firefighters show up to a blaze or medical emergency across much of the United States, they most likely are volunteers. It’s also likely the department is understaffed, struggling to replace old equipment and facing uncertainty about its next generation of firefighters. “So much of our country relies on the volunteer fire service,” said Kimberly Quiros, chief of communications with the National Volunteer Fire Council, a nonprofit advocacy organization. “Right now, we’re seeing less volunteers and more calls [for emergency response], but a lot of communities don't have the tax base and support to switch to a career staffing model.” More than 80% of the nation’s fire departments are made up entirely or mostly of volunteers, according to the National Fire Protection Association. Volunteers comprise 65% of U.S. firefighters overall.


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