North Dakota, with Fewer Volunteers, Ranks 47th in Firefighting Capability

November 21, 2016

North Dakota ranks 47th in the country in being equipped to fight fires and it’s not helping that fewer people are signing up to be volunteer firefighters.

Most fire departments in North Dakota are made up of volunteers but now the number of volunteers is waning.

Fire departments in the state are made up of 96 percent volunteers, WDAY-TV reported.

Mayville fire chief Lee Brenna said he was on a wait list to join the fire department in 1988. Mayville had 50 firefighters at the time. Today, there are only 28 firefighters in the department.

“There’s always that fear, you get here first, you get the truck running and you’re hoping there will be enough guys to come,” said Brenna.

As volunteers decline, departments have assisted other towns in emergencies. However, that leaves the town that’s providing assistance more vulnerable.

Due to the decline becoming more severe the Federal Emergency Management Agency has given North Dakota $2.1 million, to benefit the state for the next four years.

Officials have said the funding will be put toward an ad campaign aimed at recruitment and retention of firefighters and will also be used to enhance firefighter education.

Lavon Nelson, who lost his home to a fire in June, said he believes it’s important to have enough manpower to fight fires.

“Mayville Fire Department was assisted by the Portland Fire Department, by Hatton and by Hillsboro,” said Nelson. “They all came and brought 15,000 pounds of water and did what they could.”

With lack of staff in fire departments and longer response times, home insurance costs also increase.

Topics North Dakota

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