A new proposal at the state Capitol aims to incentivize people to become volunteer firefighters and emergency medical services workers in Wisconsin as many departments around the country struggle to find volunteers.
"Right now, we have a huge problem with trying to get volunteers to participate in their local fire departments. Of our 863 fire departments in the state of Wisconsin, 701 rely on volunteers," said Sen. Patrick Testin, a Republican from Stevens Point.
Chanse Kaczmarski, deputy chief of the Belleville Fire Department, said the most difficult part for volunteers is the time commitment involved with the job, as they often are juggling a full-time job with a family at the same time.
"We operate 365 days a year so it takes out of holidays and other family events," Kaczmarski said.
He said his department luckily has not faced challenges with recruitment, but retention has been a bit of an issue.