Over the course of the past decade fire companies across the State of Delaware have faced a steady decline in volunteers, creating increased challenges for firefighters who risk it all when duty calls.
Jay Jones, President of the Delaware Volunteer Firefighters Association, tells WGMD’s Rob Petree that recruitment and retention has become increasingly more difficult in recenly as fire companies across the state have experienced a noticeable decline in volunteers.
“The landscape of the State of Delaware has changed over the past 20 years or so,” Jones said. “Industry’s not really the same as it used to be 20 years ago. You have people where they’re not able to leave their places of employment to respond to emergencies like they were before.”
The issues are also generational, according to Jones who said people are more busy nowadays and don’t have the time to put in for the training necessary to be able to respond to such emergencies.
Just five to ten years ago, when alarms would sound you see anywhere from four to six volunteers showing up to the scene with multiple apparatus. Well, that’s not the case anymore as the shortage has created a strain on neighboring fire companies who now have to make up for that loss in man power and assist with emergencies.
“Responders from other departments, neighboring communities, have to come over and help with the emergency,” Jones explained. “You would have one or two fire companies normally answer a call in years past. Now, you’re seeing anywhere from five, six, and even more fire companies answer a call.”
The DVFA has taken steps recently to ‘think outside the box’ and generate ideas to find a solution to the shortage to be able to recruit and retain volunteers that the service critically needs.
Working with state legislators, the DVFA was able to pass a joint resolution with bipartisan support to create a recruitment and rentention task force to explore the issue and come up with ways to attract volunteers to the fire service.
Moving forward, the DVFA will be working closely with the task force to address the root causes of the issue to increase the number of volunteers statewide.
If you or someone you know is interested in volunteering for the fire service, call your local fire company or visit them in person for a tour to explore how you can be volunteer today.