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Nationwide firefighter shortage affects Western Oregon

Many local fire departments need volunteers to adequately serve the public.

Posted: Jan 3, 2018 5:28 PM
Updated: Jan 4, 2018 9:17 AM

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. 

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 133851

Reported Deaths: 1803
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah28467459
Washington18734171
Marion16247239
Clackamas11698138
Lane8353109
Jackson693085
Umatilla679368
Deschutes499936
Yamhill319045
Malheur313552
Linn311646
Polk245540
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Josephine174333
Benton170514
Jefferson170525
Douglas168743
Union111416
Wasco108123
Columbia104918
Lincoln99617
Hood River95421
Coos93815
Morrow93810
Clatsop6865
Crook62110
Baker5685
Tillamook3652
Curry3245
Lake2305
Grant2131
Harney1754
Wallowa963
Gilliam511
Sherman470
Wheeler201
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