Article: Volunteer firefighter shortage a threat to communities

Link to article – Includes video

Last October, when Smith Valley Fire Chief D.C. Haas told NBC Montana reporters his department was short on volunteers, he pointed to the tip of an iceberg that’s threatening the welfare and safety of many Montana communities. Montana’s volunteer fire departments are falling far short on manpower.

Last year, Montana State University’s Fire Services Training School trained 6,000 firefighters. That’s more than half the estimated 11,000 members serving Montana. The effort fell far short of what fire chiefs tell NBC Montana is necessary to fill their crew list.

The problem isn’t a lack of trainers. Quite simply, the problem is a lack of volunteers.

Haas says Smith Valley has eight volunteers, but he could use 20.

East of Missoula, the Clinton volunteers are dispatched from a brand new well equipped station on a frontage road along I-90. The community pays Chief Bill Tucker for…

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