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Volunteer fire departments need more volunteersSubmitted: 09/22/2014

RHINELANDER - Rural areas rely on volunteer fire departments to respond to emergencies.

That's the case in Oneida County.

The Rhinelander Fire Department is the only paid full time department in the County.

But it can be difficult for fire departments to draw more volunteers.

The Crescent Fire Department in Oneida County relies on 25 volunteers for an area that serves about 2,800 people.

They need more people to help.

"The volunteer fire service has been struggling for some time with finding volunteers cause of the aging demographics in the communities," says Crescent Fire Department Chief Jacob Lobermeier. "Rural Wisconsin has seen [an] older population and there's fewer younger people. So it's been more challenging to as people grow older and retire from the fire service to replace them with younger individuals wanting to serve their community."

Volunteers often work other full time jobs.

That's why departments help each other out with calls.

"The Rhinelander area has a very strong mutual aid program. All the local fire departments really come together to help each other out. We know we all struggle a little bit with manning issues especially during daytime calls [because] volunteers typically have full time jobs and it's hard to get away during the day."

The Crescent Fire Department gets about 60 to 70 calls a year.

The department wants others to step up and help the community.

"Well we'd like to communicate to the community that the fire service, especially the volunteers, is really about neighbors helping neighbors and people volunteering their time to serve their community," says Lobermeier.

The department provides mutual aid to Newbold, Pelican and Rhinelander fire departments.

The department says it can use any help.

"Anybody who wants to volunteer, there's always a job that they can do. To get somebody who can do the structural firefighting they have to go through entry level firefighter 1 and 2 which is 60 hours of training," says Lobermeier.

You can take those classes at Nicolet College or Northcentral Technical College.

If you're interested in volunteering at a department in Oneida County follow the link below.

Related Weblinks:
Oneida County Fire Departments

Story By: Kaitlyn Howe

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