By December 22, 2014 Read More →

Volunteer firefighters a vanishing breed in W.Va.

Exponent Telegram photo by Melissa Toothman Some lockers between these jackets are empty and ready for volunteer firefighters should any new volunteers come on board with the Buckhannon Fire Department.

Exponent Telegram photo by Melissa Toothman
Some lockers between these jackets are empty and ready for volunteer firefighters should any new volunteers come on board with the Buckhannon Fire Department.

CLARKSBURG, W.Va. — Many local fire departments continue to struggle to find and keep volunteer firefighters, officials say.

For some, the numbers have been dwindling for many years, but for others the noticeable decline has been more recent.

“In the last couple of years, the numbers have really dropped,” Buckhannon Fire Chief Mitch Tacy said. “There’s always been a problem with volunteers forever, but in the last couple years, with training requirements, social issues and vocational issues that impact us, it takes an awful commitment, especially for busier fire departments.”

Volunteer firefighter Eric McClain, who serves with the Anmoore Volunteer Fire Department, said he too has noticed a decline in the number of volunteer firefighters.

“I know there’s definitely not as many as there used to be,” he said, adding the department’s capacity is nearly 20. “I’d say we probably only have roughly about 10 of us or so that run with us now.”

Assistant Fire Chief Keith Talbert with the Weston Fire Department said he estimates the department is short about 10 or 12 volunteer firefighters from the numbers they have operated with in past years.

“They are the backbone of the fire service in this state,” Talbert said. “I know this county couldn’t afford to be full paid. There’s just not enough tax revenue…

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