When you are in need of help, there is a good chance a volunteer will come to the rescue. However in Putnam County, low volunteer numbers are creating problems for the Buffalo Volunteer Fire Department.
“The numbers are down, people just aren’t volunteering anymore,” said Glenn Whittington.
Whittington has been a Volunteer Firefighter for the majority of his life. When he started the requirements were less strict.
“Today the hours have gone up so much to be a firefighter to meet the federal regulations and people just don’t have the time. Remember, we don’t get paid to do this, we have other jobs,” said Whittington. “There is no incentive to volunteer.”
The problem isn’t exclusive to Putnam County. In fact, the shortage of volunteers is a problem across the state. Other states have had similar issues as well, but have found ways to work around the problem by offering incentives, like medical insurance or tax deductions, for those who volunteer their time.
Whittington hopes that West Virginia will soon provide incentives as well.
“I don’t think majority of people in the legislature understand how critical this is. This could make or break us.” He added, “They don’t understand how close they are to losing fire service in the community.”