‘There’s just fewer people’: Agencies struggle to find volunteer firefighters

Local

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Some are calling it an emergency, the declining number of volunteer firefighters. In Kansas, that decline is being felt by different agencies.

Chief Randy Hoffman tells KSN he would like to see his team double in size, especially with the colder months ahead.

Some days, Udall residents see Randy Hoffman leave his day job and pull in here as the chief of Cowley County Fire District four. He’s one of about 18 volunteers making a difference.

“We’ve saved lives, and we’re there for 15 or 20 minutes before the next responders get there, so it’s a time we could be doing something,” said Randy Hoffman, Cowley County Fire District 4 chief.

He’s put in 38 years like some of his peers, but with an aging force, he’s concerned for the future.

“A lot of us that are have been on here for 20 years or more, so we’re trying to hoping to get the younger people involved,” said Hoffman.

And says he’s noticed less people want to put on the gear with more people working outside town.

“There’s just fewer people in small towns that want to volunteer,” said Hoffman.

He says a decline in volunteer firefighters is a concern nationwide with some states calling it a state of emergency. Hoffman says he would like to double his force and is hopeful with some new faces.

“Fortunately, we’ve acquired a few new volunteers in the last year or two,” said Hoffman.

His message to others, is if you’re thinking about it, talk to volunteers. It could be the start of a rewarding experience.

“Every time that there is a call, and somebody is not there, and you’re there, then that just means you were able to help that person,” said Hoffman.

If you are interested, there are different ways you can contact them. You can send them a message on Facebook or call them at (620) 782-3333.

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