As wildfires rage across Oregon, some fire departments are worried they don’t have enough volunteers to deal with emergencies.
Fire officials say every agency in Lane County has a critical staffing shortage for volunteer firefighters. Chad Minter, the Fire Chief of the Coburg Fire District, said that although it’s always been tough to find volunteer firefighters it’s been particularly hard since the COVID-19 pandemic. Minter says volunteers need to step up because small fire departments like the Coburg Fire District can’t afford to pay for full time staff.
“What the public in Lane County needs to realize, is taxes can't make that up. You can't afford to pay the taxes we need for full time staff,” Minter said. “If people don't step up and volunteer, you're just not gonna have the resources you had” Minter said the less staffing a fire district has, the worse a fire can get.