The North Carolina Association of Fire Chiefs is facing a critical recruitment challenge.
Since budget cuts across the state have left fewer job opportunities, firefighters have launched an effort to find and keep more volunteers.
At the Fairview Fire Department in Apex, firefighters often perform a variety of clean-up and organizational duties while they wait for an emergency call. Volunteer firefighters pitch in to help as well. "It gives them the ability to help their community, be involved and make a difference," said Captain Glenn Clapp, adding that most fire stations now need more volunteers due largely to the impact of the coronavirus on city and county budgets.
Raleigh’s budget for 2021 reduced paid firefighter positions by 20. Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA) research shows volunteers make up 72% of firefighters in the state. Their numbers are declining by 11-12% annually.