Tri-State fire officials say it's a challenge to find qualified - WGEM.com: Quincy News, Weather, Sports, and Radio

Tri-State fire officials say it's a challenge to find qualified volunteer firefighters

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PITTSFIELD, Ill. (WGEM) - Firefighters have to be ready in a minute's notice to save lives and risk their own each day, and in many communities those who put their lives on the line are volunteers.

Fire officials in some rural areas say they are having trouble finding qualified people to take on the call to action.

Ryan Crowder is like many men and women across the Tri-States.  He works full-time and has a wife and kid and it's a lifestyle that keeps him busy.

But what differentiates him from many people is that he can be called away at any minute for his second job as a volunteer firefighter in Pittsfield.

So, why does he add the extra stress to his life?

"It's kind of like a disease, you know?" Crowder said. "Once you get bite with it you love volunteering. You love helping out."

Fire Chief Jason White says finding dedicated people like Crowder  who are willing to put in the time not only to go out on calls but to endure the countless hours of training has become a challenge over the years. 

"I've been on the department for almost, it's been eighteen years for me," White said. "It's changed a lot in almost twenty years. To see the guys that come in now and the generation changes. How they approach it and how we approach it and how much firefighting has changed."

And just because they don't get paid doesn't mean they aren't trained.

White says his crew has to pass the same rigorous tests and background checks as paid firefighters. Firefighters today are trained on more than just putting out a house fire.

"High angle rescue, extraction, structural firefighting, exterior attack as well as interior attack, water shuttle," White said. "I mean I could go on and on."   

Crowder is like many firefighters who despite the hard work,  loves what he does.

"To give back to the community that has been so good to me growing up," Crowder said.

White says he has about 28 volunteer firefighters right now, but he could use a few more.

If you are interested in becoming a volunteer firefighter in Pittsfield you are encourage to contact city hall to get more information and begin the training process. 

The process is similar in many towns across the Tri-States.


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