Local fire departments in need of volunteers - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Local fire departments in need of volunteers

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WOOD COUNTY (WAOW) -

Tom Heiser has been a volunteer firefighter in Grand Rapids for 30 years.

"Fire departments go on Christmas Day. They go on holidays. They go at 3 a.m.," said Heiser.

Fire officials said that might be why fewer young people are becoming volunteer firefighters. According to the National Volunteer Fire Council, the number of volunteer firefighters has dropped 18 percent since 1984.

Arpin is part of the trend.

"As a department, we're all getting older, and there are no young people that are filling the bottom of our roster to replace us as we retire," said Capt. Chad Godard of the Arpin Fire Department.

The Arpin Fire Department has 32 volunteers. That's 6 short of a full roster. As a result, they need more help from other fire departments.

"We do our best to keep our community safe, but as in any department, of course, a full roster would help," said Godard.

But not all Fire Departments are seeing a shortage. The Grand Rapids Fire Chief Dan Bohn said he has a full roster of 55 volunteers.

"When we have a fire, it's hands on. You need a lot of people there in a quick hurry," said Bohn.

Grand Rapids fire officials said they've seen some younger people signing on to volunteer. Heiser said he thinks that's because the job is worth all the hard work.

"It's just a good feeling when you have somebody walk up to you and say, ‘Thank you, you know, for what you did,' because then you know you made a mark in their life," said Heiser.

Fire officials say they're trying to promote interest in firefighting to boost the number of younger volunteers.

For more information on becoming a volunteer firefighter, visit http://nvfc.org/volunteer/volunteer-as-a-first-responder.

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