Volunteer Firefighters Needed
By: CJ Cassidy
MINER, Mo. - Volunteer fire departments, like the one in Miner, find recruiting volunteers is quite a challenge.
Unlike firefighters in larger departments like Cape Girardeau, volunteers in smaller areas work full time jobs, then go to work again to fight fires.
Fire chiefs say when you offer next to nothing, it's hard to ask someone to put their lives on the line.
When Jason Allen isn't at work at his day job or with his kids, he spends his free time at the Miner Firehouse.
"There's no greater gift in life than saving somebody else's life," Allen said.
Still, having his fans to encourage him also helps, and keeps Allen coming back to work alongside the 24 other volunteers in Miner who serve more than 6000 people in the area.
"My little boy calls me his hero and it kind of puts you up on a higher level when you do hear a page and go out," he said.
Jason and other volunteers get $10 for every fire call they go on. But, when you consider his full time job, the 20 or so hours he spends at the fire department can make for a very long week.
That's why finding volunteers is hard; it doesn't appeal to everyone.
Adam Russell, for example, said he doesn't have time to serve his community. He's too tired from serving food all day long.
"I have a six year old and a three year old with sports and all that. When I'm off, I would like to spend time with them. My family, my wife, they keep me busy," Russell said.
Miner Chief Randy Allen understands. He said most working parents can't sacrifice time at home for their community. In fact, he said people are busier today than they've ever been before.
"If it's not in your heart you can't do it, because we deal with life and death situations everyday. A lot of people have what it takes to do that. It's hard to find good people," Allen said.
Other fire departments in the area also have trouble keeping volunteers, but the Miner Chief said it isn't a problem there.