Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana fire departments stretched thin by volunteer shortage

WCPOPublished: October 5, 2017
Published: October 5, 2017

"You can't fight fire with three people," Trenton Fire Department Chief Darryl Yater said Wednesday, but that's how many part-time firefighters are on duty in his department during the day. That's a problem when they get a call for a structure fire that needs 15 pairs of hands on deck. Volunteer firefighter shortages have impacted departments all over the nation, forcing some, like Trenton, to rely on mutual aid from nearby departments. And Trenton is comparatively fortunate -- it actually has part-time employees, as opposed to the entirely volunteer-run St. Clair Township and Wayne Township fire departments. Cindy Phillips is a squad captain with the Wayne Township Fire Department, but participating stacks on top of her day job as well as those of many other volunteers. There are situations when the people on whom Wayne's residents depend are simply too busy to respond in force. "There are times when the pager goes off and due to my family -- between my family and my children -- I'm not able to go," Phillips said. "I physically can't, and that bothers me. I know many of the others feel the same way."

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