Volunteer fire departments need personnel and some have started creating paid positions

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. – Some local volunteer fire departments are considering new and different ways to financially run and staff their fire stations.

Volunteer fire departments are important for people who live outside of the city because the proximity to and success of the station can bring insurance rates down for homeowners.

Volunteer fire departments were originally created by farmers for farmers when many people were working on their farms and at home, but now, with most people working set hours outside of their homes, finding volunteer staffing is more difficult.

As the name says, most volunteer firefighters are working for free, donating their time and efforts.

Some local volunteer fire departments have already had to shift slightly away from that model and pay a few people to ensure there are enough people working per shift.

Most funding to run a fire department comes from dues paid by district homeowners and fundraisers held by the departments, but even with that income, their working budget is still fairly small so most departments have not had the funds yet to hire firefighters, according to Fire Chief Bob Skipper with Woodburn Volunteer Fire Department.

“A lot of things are going to have to go into consideration and as Warren County continues to grow, do we look at different funding sources, different methods to bring in the additional revenue that we would need to bring on paid staff,” said Skipper.

Having people staffing the department is also better for the department’s response time, since most volunteers are not at the station when a call comes in, said Brad Frogge with the Barren River Volunteer Fire Department.

“It cuts the response time from our residence to the station. That’s a big help and a big advantage there. As far as medical calls, they can immediately roll. They can immediately respond to the call …  . It cuts out that middle time and everybody knows, in an emergency, time is everything,” said Frogge.

Departments around the county are taking applications for firefighter volunteers and are looking for people who can donate their time and energy to helping their community.

If that is an effort you are interested in, contact your nearby station.

Coming up this fall, several local stations will be hosting fundraisers, so keep an eye out if you would like to support your station.