Quad-County Fire and Rescue Association
Three quarters (75%) of the firefighters in the United States are volunteers. These volunteer firefighters protect 43% of the nation's population. Of the approximately 31,500 fire departments in the country, 89% are all, or mostly, volunteer.
In many communities across the country, volunteer firefighters are the first line of defense against fires, medical emergencies, chemical, biological, and terrorist threats, hazardous materials incidents, and trench collapses. They also provide high and low angle rescues, and other types of specialized rescue. Over the past twenty years, the number of emergency calls has increased dramatically, along with the training requirements necessary to keep pace with expanding responsibilities.
Volunteer fire and rescue departments are having increasing difficulty raising sufficient funds to keep pace with the cost of training and equipment necessary to meet the expanded range of emergencies to which communities expect them to respond (Report on the National Volunteer Fire Summit, National Volunteer Fire Council, 1999).
In addition, recruitment and retention are becoming serious problems. Since the early 1980's, the number of volunteer firefighters has decreased by almost 10% while the number of calls to which they respond and the type of emergencies has increased dramatically (Fire Report on Recruitment and Retention in the Volunteer Fire Service, National Volunteer Fire Council, 1999).
Nationally, after-incident investigations show that over half of fires could have been prevented with a relatively small investment of time and generally almost no expense. (National After-Incident Reporting Findings, National Fire Academy, 2001). Review of five years of incident reports from the 47 fire and rescue departments in the quad-county area yield the same conclusion.
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