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Rural fire departments struggle to keep volunteers

When a fire chief’s home burns down, something needs to be done, according to Chief Stan Mouser of the McClure-East Cape Fire Protection District.

In October 2013, Mouser’s home burnt down. He said there wasn’t enough firefighters in his district to put it out. By the time three other department’s responded, it was too late.

Mouser said that his volunteer’s couldn’t respond because they were at their full time jobs.

“Everybody was working,” Mouser said. “A lot of volunteer fire departments pay there firefighters… But we don’t have the money.”

Mouser says he has up to date equipment and that his department rates high for state standards.

“The equipment aint no good if you don’t got no body to run it,” Mouser said.
McClure-East Cape isn’t the only department in Southern Illinois that’s struggling to get volunteers.

Chief Jesse Kerr of the Tamms Volunteer Fire Department says it’s hard to keep volunteers too. Kerr says the issue effects many small communities across the U.S. Kerr said he’s had several fire fighters quit within the last two months.

“Rural communities throughout the united states… It’s not just our area,” Kerr said. “It’s al throughout the united states have problems with keeping personell.”

It’s hard for people to balance a family, full time job, and volunteering. The fire fighters in both Tamms and McClure-East Cape are unpaid.

“[It's] Hard economical times. People’s got to work more jobs,” Kerr said. “The misses and the husband have to work.”
If you’re interested in volunteering in your area. Follow the links below to search for fire department’s in your area by County.

Click here for Illinois.

Click here for Missouri.

Click here for Kentucky.

Click here for Tennessee.

Kerr said you may also try stopping in to your local volunteer fire department. Even if you don’t want to fight fires, it is likely that the department will have another job for you to help with, according to Kerr.

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