Fire Departments Deal With Loss Of Volunteers

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Fire chiefs who head volunteer departments in the Twin Cities metro area say their ranks are being depleted by the economy.

Volunteer firefighters are working longer at their regular jobs because their employer has downsized. Others have lost their jobs and are moving out of the communities in which they volunteered.

Minnesota State Volunteer Firefighter Association secretary Dave Ganfield says some who find themselves unemployed are retiring from firefighting and collecting their firefighter pensions to make ends meet.

Eagan Fire Chief Mike Scott says his department has lost an average of nine firefighters a year for the past few years.

The St. Paul Pioneer Press says the National Volunteer Fire Council estimates 72 percent of the nation’s firefighters are volunteers.

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

  • Fire Wife

    Just a reminder to give a big “thank you” to your local firefighter. My husband is on a true volunteer department, no big bonuses, no pay for showing up and no retirement and yet he’s out there missing family events, city events, and precious sleep because there are people out there that need their help. Volunteer firefighters are incredibly selfless people and deserve a ton of respect.

    • Get it right . . .

      Good point Fire Wife. There are still true VOLUNTEER firefighters but the majority that are called voluntee are truly “paid-on-call” and not only receive pay for showing up to a call they also receive pay for training and meetings in addition to a pension that is funded by tax dollars that make public pension through PERA look pretty measly. Some are already city or county or state employees that get paid time off work to respond to daytme calls . . . and are essnetially double dipping with two pensions from the same taxpayers. Don’t get me wrong . . . I do appreciate the services you provide but at least tell it like it is . . . you are paid well to respond and recieve a pension that any volunteer would love to have.

      • markH

        Thanks for making that point clear. I also appreciate and acknowledge the valuable services of volunteer firefighters and those who are permanent employees. But I also know that they are paid quite well . I live in northern CA, and my neighbor is a firefighter with the city and he makes (get this) $118K per year. He only works 2 days per week (24 hour days) and he also makes per diem for additional calls. He’s a great guy, but never spent one day in college-just a Firefighter academy that took him 3 months to complete. Now, this is an awful lot of money no matter how you rationalize it and this state is funding some incredible pensions (95% of pay after 5 years service).

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