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Nationwide firefighter shortage affects Western Oregon

Many local fire departments need volunteers to adequately serve the public.

Posted: Jan 3, 2018 5:28 PM
Updated: Jan 4, 2018 9:17 AM

LANE COUNTY, Ore.-- A nationwide firefighter shortage is putting a strain on volunteer departments in Western Oregon.

In Lane County, departments like Junction City are staffed by nearly 90-percent volunteers. KEZI spoke to Junction City Fire Chief Brandon Nicol today, who said part of the problem is finding people who are qualified.

Volunteers have to be physically fit, pass a background check, and dedicate the time to training requirements.

Within Lane Fire Authority, about half the staff is volunteers. KEZI spoke to Lt. Tressa Miller who says the department couldn't do it without them.  "We have 144 members, and for right now, we're able to cover the calls. If you take 90 of those people away... We're not going to be able to make a difference. Call times, response times, are going to go way up.. The volunteers with our organization, with any organization, we are reliant on the volunteers," Miller said. 

She said the best volunteers are people who have a heart for it.
 
Volunteering requires weekly training. The only cost is that of the uniform, which is tax deductable. 

Volunteers also get a stipend for their phone bill.

If you're interested in becoming a volunteer firefighter, you can apply here. 

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 156884

Reported Deaths: 2293
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah31996550
Washington21360217
Marion18600287
Clackamas13449190
Lane10357131
Jackson8543118
Umatilla770782
Deschutes601665
Yamhill379769
Linn361357
Malheur335858
Polk308545
Klamath280955
Douglas257455
Josephine239056
Benton236017
Jefferson197630
Coos157621
Union130519
Columbia127721
Wasco122126
Lincoln113720
Hood River107029
Morrow105014
Crook78118
Clatsop7796
Baker6739
Curry4366
Tillamook4262
Lake3836
Harney2776
Grant2301
Wallowa1445
Gilliam541
Sherman530
Wheeler221
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