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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.

Confirmed Cases: 31503

Reported Deaths: 538
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Multnomah6938136
Marion452292
Washington436959
Umatilla292841
Clackamas231461
Malheur157525
Jackson10914
Lane105916
Deschutes78912
Yamhill74514
Jefferson5168
Polk51115
Morrow4906
Linn48013
Lincoln47513
Union4352
Benton2886
Klamath2772
Wasco2733
Hood River2480
Douglas2213
Josephine1942
Columbia1551
Coos1470
Clatsop1270
Baker912
Crook611
Tillamook510
Curry310
Lake280
Wallowa281
Sherman180
Harney120
Gilliam80
Grant80
Unassigned00
Wheeler00
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