Fire departments struggling to retain volunteers

6:18 PM, Sep 3, 2013   |    comments
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SCARBOROUGH, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- According to the State Fire Marshal's office, there are just 6 departments in Maine that hire career firefighters, while the rest rely on volunteers or call companies; but departments nationwide have seen a significant drop in volunteers over the years.

Departments like Scarborough have 4 stations throughout the town that rely on call companies, but because of the drop, Chief Mike Thurlow has had to hire on more part time staff to man the stations during the day.

South Portland's fire chief, Kevin Guimond, says they've gone from 120 call members to just over 40. He says while the call volume for fires has actually gone down throughout the state, EMS calls have gone up, which requires much more training. In the meantime, in this economy, many people who would volunteer are now working up to 2 jobs and just can't make the commitment.

Chief Guimond is on a committee that's working on a bill that would help recruit and retain volunteers. He hopes to have it ready for next year's legislative session.


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