11:53am

Fri February 17, 2012
Most Departments Staffed by Volunteers

Fire Fighter Shortage in Tennessee

MURFREESBORO, Tenn.  (WMOT)  --  Fire Departments throughout Tennessee are having trouble finding and keeping volunteers, and that may impact what you pay for home-owners insurance, or even put your family at increased risk.

Kevin Lauer is a fire management consultant with the University of Tennessee’s County Technical Assistance Service. He says fire fighting is a difficult and dangerous job that requires a significant time commitment and volunteers are getting harder to come by.

“About 80 percent of the fire departments in Tennessee are either completely volunteer, or the majority are volunteer firefighters. Almost all of those departments struggle to maintain membership.”

Chief Chris Moorehead of the Christiana Fire Department located in southern Rutherford County says his department is short-handed and always looking for additional volunteers. He says the last few years have been especially difficult.

“It’s been going on for about five or six years now, ever since the economy’s taken a slump. People are having to work two and three jobs and they really don’t have time for volunteering or giving of their time.”

A chronic shortage of qualified fire-fighters can impact a community’s fire rating. If the rating drops, the cost of your home-owner’s insurance will rise.