PAINTED POST, N.Y. (18 NEWS) - The U.S. has seen a drop of nearly 70,000 volunteer firefighters since 1983, according to a 2015 report by the National Fire Protection Association.
New York State Fire Coordinators, a professional non-profit organization for firefighters, posted a statement on Facebook regarding this on-going issue.
An excerpt read:
Staffing has fallen dramatically in recent years and has resulted in a diminished and crucial number of available personnel 24/7/365.
"We've been stable in the lower 30's as far as membership, a lot of other departments, they've seen a large drop off, because in the day, there used to be a waiting list here, 40 years ago, 50 years ago," Larry Smith, Assistant Fire Chief at the Village of Painted Post, said.
The organization stated that the most disturbing and concerning issues reside in many areas of the state where fire service is faced with a "public safety emergency". This results in calls that have been dropped, lack of qualified officers, understaffed equipment and delayed responses.
"We're seeing a lot of single parents now raising children, more rules and regulations, more training requirements, some employers, they don't allow employees to leave, you know, there's a number of items, I don't think it's just one thing in particular," Smith said.
As a first step to solve this problem, the organization is issuing a survey for all volunteer firefighters in the state to complete by Oct. 31. This is to accurately identify the scope of the problem and to develop a strategy to address this ongoing staffing issue.
A report of the data will be presented at upcoming conferences and meetings.
Click here for the survey.
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