Communities are finding it harder and harder to recruit new members
It's harder and harder to find volunteer firefighters. It's not a job that has great hours and usually not great pay.
"It's a challenge these day," said Bruce Moritz, president of the Ohio Fire Chiefs Association.
He says when it comes to younger members some are great while others quickly realize how much work the job is and disappear.
Another challenge is to find people to staff standard medic runs.
"If it's going to be exciting they're going to come out of the woodwork if they're available. If it's your 'band aid' call you can struggle at times," Moritz said.
He blames part of the shortage on a change in lifestyle today versus a few decades ago. He also says there's a lot more involved now than there was back then.
"The building materials we have today, these fires are burning faster and hotter and they're burning differently," he said.
Moritz says older structures used more natural materials and are built better. They tended to take longer to burn. Now with so many synthetic products in homes like carpet and furniture it doesn't take long for a building to be fully engulfed in flames. That means today's volunteer firefighters need more training.
"It's not hard to spend a couple of thousand dollars to train people today," he said.
Those costs are also sometimes a big roadblock for smaller departments.
Mortiz also says they're seeing more and more people opting to live in suburban and rural areas from urban areas. The problem is many fire departments in those areas are volunteer instead of full-time.
"You ain't gonna see somebody in three or four minutes. It may be ten minutes when you see somebody," he said.
He thinks consolidation may be the solution to both a shortage of manpower and equipment.