Port Washington Fire Chief Mark Mitchell this week proposed a new system for paying part-time paramedics and emergency medical technicians that he hopes will help fill shifts during the daytime hours.
It’s yet another example of how the model of a volunteer small-town fire department is evolving.
“I’m calling it a nationwide epidemic,” Mitchell said of the lack of volunteers today. “Everybody’s in the same boat.”
A report by the National Fire Protection Association released this year said there’s been a 16% reduction in the number of volunteer firefighters and EMTs over the past two years, putting stress on volunteer departments.
The plan presented by Mitchell and Fire Capt. Joe DeBoer, which was endorsed Monday by the Police and Fire Commission, would pay part-time firefighter/EMTs and firefighter/paramedics to be in the fire station during specific shifts, unlike the current system where they are paid while on calls.