Shortage of heroes in the Wabash Valley

CLAY COUNTY, Ind. (WTHI) – It’s not a shortage you want, a shortage of heroes.

But these unsung heroes, volunteer firefighters, are few and far between these days.

“It really is a challenge any more to find volunteers. We used to not have any problems finding people. People wanted to come in but with busy lives, busy schedules of any one any more. It’s really hard to get people to commit,” said Chief Bryan Husband, Lewis Township Fire Department.

Husband has been a volunteer for more than 40 years.

He know it takes time and training, and the requirements have gotten even stricter for them through the years.

“There’s six months worth of training just to become a firefighter at a minimum,” said Husband.

Many don’t want to make this effort, making adequate manpower a big issue.

But these small towns rely on their volunteers.

Response time is too slow for city fire departments to make it to rural areas.

“It’s really difficult to get people to man your station without the use of mutual aid,” said Husband. “You can’t hardly fight any type of fire with less than ten people. That’s just a minimum number. If you don’t have it, you have to call in help, but we’re not the only ones. Each department, daytime, is a struggle. We may call three or four departments before we see over 10 people show up.”

This shortage is slowly making volunteer fire departments a thing of the past.

But unfortunately, this isn’t the safest course of action. Your home could burn without these small stations.

So officials are asking for people to step up, accept a little more responsibility, helping the community sleep a little more soundly.

The compensation isn’t much.

But the reward is worth it.

“I’m not saying we save lives every day. But when we do. When that opportunity comes, tragedy comes that causes us to help save a life, it’s very rewarding on that side,” said Husband.

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