LANE COUNTY, Ore.-- A nationwide firefighter shortage is putting a strain on volunteer departments in Western Oregon.
In Lane County, departments like Junction City are staffed by nearly 90-percent volunteers. KEZI spoke to Junction City Fire Chief Brandon Nicol today, who said part of the problem is finding people who are qualified.
Volunteers have to be physically fit, pass a background check, and dedicate the time to training requirements.
Within Lane Fire Authority, about half the staff is volunteers. KEZI spoke to Lt. Tressa Miller who says the department couldn't do it without them. "We have 144 members, and for right now, we're able to cover the calls. If you take 90 of those people away... We're not going to be able to make a difference. Call times, response times, are going to go way up.. The volunteers with our organization, with any organization, we are reliant on the volunteers," Miller said.
She said the best volunteers are people who have a heart for it.
Volunteering requires weekly training. The only cost is that of the uniform, which is tax deductable.
Volunteers also get a stipend for their phone bill.
If you're interested in becoming a volunteer firefighter, you can apply here.