As fire departments nationwide have grappled with recruitment and retention challenges, area firefighters in Sauk, Marquette and Columbia counties say it’s becoming harder to find people available for fire calls during the day.
“It’s kind of a roll of the dice,” Baraboo Fire Chief Kevin Stieve said. “We need to get creative in how we do things.”
Lake Delton Fire Chief Darren Jorgenson said a challenge his department faces for recruiting is a housing shortage. Because Wisconsin Dells and Lake Delton are heavily focused on commercial expansion, housing costs and the overall standard of living is higher than in surrounding communities, Jorgenson said. In many households, both parents have one or two jobs to help support a family. Adding volunteer fire service on top of that is a lot to ask of people, Portage Fire Chief Clayton Simonson said.