Salute to Service: Firefighter shortage affecting Montana

Posted at 7:18 AM, Feb 18, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-18 10:20:18-05

WHITEFISH – The national shortage of volunteer firefighters is affecting local firehouses here in Montana.

MTN News spoke with Whitefish Fire Chief Joe Paige who says the lack of volunteers definitely puts a strain on the department.

Chief Paige explained that course changes and hour requirements have discouraged a lot of people from volunteering.

Whitefish Fire Department
The Whitefish Fire Department is being affected by a shortage of volunteers. (MTN News image)

Folks in the area also have to work multiple jobs in order to afford to live in Whitefish and have no time to volunteer — or it’s difficult for them to get time off from work to attend the volunteer hours.

Chief Paige says with only eight volunteers the shortage impacts how the fire department responds to emergencies.

“It does affect our tactics and strategies on what we can do with our initial response until we have help arrive. We’re pretty lucky with our mutual aid response from everybody,” says Paige.

The Whitefish Fire Department currently has enough personnel to run a truck to the scene of a structure fire, but not enough to staff an ambulance. This means, if firefighters or victims are injured they have to wait until another ambulance arrives.

Click here to learn more about volunteering to help out your local fire department.