All across Erie County and throughout the state, volunteer fire departments are having a hard time recruiting volunteers.

Here is more about the lack of manpower and what local fire departments are doing to try to find help.

Many fire companies from Erie are entirely volunteer run, and they are in dire need of people. These companies told us however that this is no new issue.

Volunteer fire fighters are a driving force in helping keep our communities safe when emergencies strike, but a shortage in staff is something that they have had to navigate for years.

“It’s nothing new. I’ve been doing this for 20 years now and since I’ve started that’s what the name of the game was,” said Mike Zaccheo, Firefighter with Kuhl Hose Co.

Beyond responding firefighters, fire companies are struggling to even get people to staff their stations during the day.

They’ve responded by offering paid positions during the day which still has failed to bring in enough help.

“I was trying to do a paid EMS service during the day. It’s hard because even the paid service, Emergicare, Millcreek, and so forth, all the other departments are trying to get people and it’s hard. You have to get the training in, EMT’s just to be a basic EMT you’re talking six, seven, eight months of training just to get them onboard,” said David Meehl, Crescent Hose Co. Fire Chief.

Now add all of that time training on top of whatever job a person might have, and it becomes quite a commitment.

This is a problem that firefighters all over have faced.

More so today than ever before, a volunteer may face more issues getting off of work during their regular job to go to an emergency situation, further discouraging people from joining the force.

The Kuhl Hose Fire Company shared with us that in order to get more volunteers involved, Erie County needs to take a look at the situation.

“At this point, it needs to go beyond individual departments. It needs to be from the county level or regional government level to provide staffing in various areas. There’s other departments throughout the country who have that kind of model. You see it in Virginia, down south in South Carolina, they have these kinds of systems and I think they work,” said Zaccheo.

Crescent Hose Fire Company in North East is hosting an open house every Tuesday night to educate potential volunteers and junior volunteers at the station.

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Hopefully they will receive the help that they need soon.