Local firefighters experiencing volunteer shortage

Arguably one of the most important jobs in the community is becoming one of the toughest to find volunteers for.

A recent report says around 65% of firefighters across the nation are volunteers. Those volunteers are becoming increasingly harder to recruit, and Spokane is no exception.

“We’ve definitely seen a slight decrease in a traditional volunteer,” said Deputy Chief Orlando Sandoval.

Sandoval says he’s seen about a dozen fewer volunteer firefighters than when he came to Spokane Fire District 10 six years ago.

“There’s really no guidebook, there’s really no manual that says how to keep your traditional volunteer firefighter active and involved,” said Sandoval.

District 10 hired a recruiter, but Sandoval says it’s still difficult.

“Most people are working two jobs and most people want to spend that weekend with their family,” said Sandoval.

“You’re also seeing the ‘me’ generations,” he added. “It’s all about me, me, me and we don’t see the community-oriented people like we normally do in the past.”

There are incentives for volunteer firefighters. In fact, Sandoval says, though not much, volunteers get compensation for their training and the time they spend at the station.

The real compensation, Sandoval says, is the camaraderie and being able to help others.

“Being able to make a difference in people’s lives is huge and not too many people get to say that.”

With that in mind, a combined recruitment academy is being held for the first time ever on the West Plains.

The academy combines Spokane Fire Districts 10 and 3 with Airway Heights and Cheney.

Though the academy has always taken place, it’s never been held with as many people.

“We have a combination of traditional volunteers, recruits and paid firefighters that are all within this recruitment academy,” said Sandoval.

CLICK HERE to learn more, or to sign up to volunteer.