With tight budgets and dwindling amounts of volunteer help, interior fire departments struggle with maintaining staffing. In 2011 the Steese Volunteer Fire Department came up with an idea to help -- they began providing scholarships and a place to live for students who are going to UAF. "We are able to staff two stations, two ambulances, two engines, with these scholarship folks to serve the community for minimal amount of money," said Captain Ruth Church. "If we had this amount of staffing that we were trying to pay for full time, it would be quite a bit more expensive. So by giving them the opportunity to go to school, and live and work at the fire station, it really benefits the community members."
Church said in 2005 when she started working at the department, they only had a handful of volunteers and one paid person. Now they have 15 scholarship positions that are at the department full time.