Recent house fire brings awareness to firefighter shortage
CAPE GIRARDEAU COUNTY, Mo. (KFVS) - A recent house fire in Cape Girardeau County is sparking conversation with local officials about the need for more firefighters in our area.
According to a recent Facebook post by East County Fire Protection District, a recent house fire was especially difficult due to limited access to the house and no fire hydrants nearby. It put an extra strain on the volunteers.
Chris Miller is a full-time firefighter in Cape Girardeau, but also volunteers at East County Fire District. Miller shared the differences between the two fire departments.
“No one calls 911 on their best day, it’s their worst day and it’s their call for help,” Miller said. “We take 17 people to a fire in Cape city. Here in the county, we may be blessed with just the four that are off that day.”
He said East County’s department is entirely staffed by volunteers. According to Miller, most employed full-time firefighters like him and in rural areas face another challenge.
“Probably number one is water. You know, in the city it’s easy to access hydrants, but we go out to the county, all you’re going to find is a pond, swimming pool, a creek, you gotta find some way from that water source to the scene of the incident,” Miller said.
Captain Ron Kiplinger with Jackson Fire Rescue was on scene. Kiplinger said this fire was difficult to take out with the manpower they had.
“Estimated close to a thousand feet up the driveway to the engine that was doing the pumping. This particular fire we had 20 on and could’ve used a dozen more,” Kiplinger said.
Captain David Goehman said that over his last 16 years of service in Cape Girardeau County, he’s beginning to see more everyday heroes hang up their boots. He said the remaining volunteers are still responding to a record-number of incidents.
“Unfortunately, a lot of the older generation is starting to retire out, and it is really one of those that we hope that it does pick up to kind of help balance that out,” Goehman said.
Goehman and Miller are both friends and have served together for years. According to Miller, they plan on working together for many more to come.
“While we hate to see the community you know having challenges, we’re so blessed to be able to go out and help them in their greatest time of need, so we definitely need more people,” Miller said.
Copyright 2023 KFVS. All rights reserved.