Of the nearly 1.2 million firefighters in the United States, more than 800,000 are volunteers.
And without the services provided by volunteers, a number of small communities with small budgets might have to do without a fire department.
But attracting volunteers has become a challenge in recent years.
“People don’t have as much time to volunteer at organizations anymore,” said Brian Causey, the assistant chief at the Guil-Rand Fire Department in Archdale. “People are spending more time with their families, they’re working more. The more rural areas, they depended a lot on the farmers, people who are around in the daytime and can run to the fire station for a call.”
Guil-Rand is one of 15 departments in North Carolina taking part in a campaign sponsored by the N.C. Association of Fire Chiefs and the International Association of Fire Chiefs to try to attract more recruits.