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Shortage of volunteer firefighters a growing crisis

Mar 5, 2014 - Jerri Robinson, Kinnear

Editor:

It is a sad day in our community. Another long-standing tradition has gone by the wayside. The Morton-Kinnear annual fireman's pancake supper, an event that is been held for more than 40 years, was not scheduled this year.

The reason, I am told, is that there just aren't enough active volunteer firemen in the department to stage the event. They say there are only six active firefighters at Kinnear now. There are fewer than that at Pavillion, and not many more at Midvale or North Portal.

This is so strange. We have these big, new, fancy fire halls and big new trucks to put in them, but so few men to run them.

Where have all the volunteer firefighters gone?

I have heard myriad reasons, such as most of the full-time farmers are getting up in age, all the young guys work at other jobs, some of the younger guys say there are too many frivolous training requirements, and others say it's politics within the fire district.

Whatever the reason, full-time paid departments in these small communities are not feasible.

I hate to see our volunteer fire departments go the same way as our voluntary ambulance service -- we have none. The ambulances have to come all the way from Riverton or Lander, and many times the crew is not familiar with the area. It takes firemen from several other departments to fight one fire in this rural area.

I have the greatest respect and appreciation for all our volunteers in the fire departments and ambulance service. However, I and my neighbors should be concerned about the possible loss of life or property because there isn't adequate manpower to fight fires, as well as response time, not to mention what could happen to our fire insurance rates.

I ask the fire district commissioners, the Fremont County Commission, and all the powers that be to look into the problem together and make a concerted effort to correct it.

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