Local fire departments in need of volunteers

By: Aaron Dimick Email
By: Aaron Dimick Email

FALL CREEK, WI (WEAU) Firefighters in the Chippewa Valley and across the country say they’re struggling to get the help they need to put out fires.

WEAU 13 News spoke to several firefighters from the Fall Creek Fire Department as they were conducting a training exercise on Saturday.

The firefighters ignited an old barn on Mathwig Road outside Fall Creek and extinguished it for practice.

Fall Creek Fire Chief Bob Dewitz said fire departments nationwide are suffering from a lack of volunteer firefighters because of low pay and massive cuts to public safety.

“The economy has a lot to do with it. People are working two jobs,” Chief Dewitz said.

Understaffed by a dozen firefighters, Chief Dewitz said it will affect the safety of the community.

“We don’t have the people to take care of a lot of the jobs so we end up calling in a lot of mutual aid. We have to rely on other communities to help us out,” Chief Dewitz said.

Tom Williamson, a Fall Creek volunteer firefighters with 11 years of experience said serving the community is what drives him to help out.

“We’re not here for the money. We’re here to serve the community when we can. Someday it might be my house going down or my neighbor’s,” Williamson said.

Jeremy Childers of Augusta observed the training.

Childers said he’s considering volunteering with the department.

“It looks like it would be fun. It’s a good way to give back to the community,” Childers said.

Chief Dewitz said those interested in volunteering can call their local fire department and set up a meeting.

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  • by Anonymous Location: St. Croix County on May 16, 2011 at 09:41 AM
    There was a house fire here recently. I heard FIVE fire departments dispatched to it, including one that was 20 miles away. That's before any trucks got on-scene to assess the need for more help. That's ridiculous. Consider this: Firefighters get paid to just show up at the station regardless if they're on a truck of not. Now imagine paying a hundred firefighters from those FIVE departments. Someone's getting ripped off.
    • reply
      by MK on May 17, 2011 at 01:30 PM in reply to
      Seriously - do you want to wait until they get there to dispatch more people - every minute is more of your stuff that is gone. What if there were people inside. You are apparently ignorant as to how this is suppose to work.
  • by Mark on May 16, 2011 at 07:49 AM
    It takes more than a meeting to become a volunteer firefighter. There are hundreds of hours of training required. Any fire department that would allow a person off the street to simply put on turnout gear and hop on a truck without training is asking for trouble.
  • by Mark on May 16, 2011 at 07:45 AM
    You forgot about the volunteer ambulance services. They are more short of people than fire departments.
  • by Anonymous on May 16, 2011 at 12:34 AM
    Would be quite helpful if they all had the MONEY to pay for it. Now, some are fully volunteer, like Township Fire. However, some, like Altoona, are paid-on-call. Which is another type of volunteer. Due to a hiring freeze, even though Altoona could use more firefighters, they won't get them.
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