|Photo by Jen Theodore, Unsplash|
Part of your job is to head into buildings that are on fire, billowing smoke, and incredibly HOT. Who wants that job?
“While some departments have brought on full-time paid firefighters to fill the gaps, [but] many communities, especially in rural areas, can’t afford the cost of a professional fire service,” Brown explains. Kimberly Quiros, chief of communications with the National Volunteer Fire Council, told Brown, “A lot of communities don’t have the tax base and support to switch to a career staffing model.”
Tania Daffron, an assistant chief of administration and planning in Bloomington, Indiana, told The Rural Blog that many communities have historically paid volunteers per “call or run — the more runs, the greater the pay. . . . The stipends aren’t necessarily new, but departments are trying to
increase the amount to make it more worthwhile for the personnel to
Part of addressing the shortage needs to include the danger and emotional toll of rescue work. Daffron said volunteer firefighters experience the same stresses as their urban counterparts: “Burnout is real, along with PTSD from accumulated trauma. . . .We are horrible at asking for help for ourselves, as ‘We are the help’.” She said hiring and retaining any firefighter is a juggling act to offer enough incentives for people to complete all the training, preparation and mental stress. In sum, is volunteering as a firefighter worth the risk and time involved? When asked “Why would someone want that job?” Daffron replied, “It’s an opportunity to serve their communities and is one of the best, most rewarding jobs in the world.”