MARATHON COUNTY (WAOW)– New state fire department standards could impact the number of volunteers available.
The new standards went into effect a few months ago, and include changes to the number of educational and training hours needed for positions like operator driver and officer.
Officials say many volunteer firefighters might not meet these new training standards, impacting small and rural communities.
“When you have a full volunteer fire department… it’s going to hurt them a little bit more,” said Mosinee Fire Chief Stephen Haas. But Haas says his department, a combination of full-time employees and on-call, shouldn’t see too many changes in staffing.
These new standards come as some fire departments have already struggled to fill positions. Now finding qualified candidates to meet the new training requirements, could add to that burden.
“Departments are really struggling,” said South Area Fire District Deputy Chief Josh Finke. “Some ambulance services have shut down, just because they don’t have volunteers.”
Although fire departments that rely on volunteers may have some concerns, both Finke and Haas think the new standards will make for better prepared firefighters.