Volunteer firefighters are getting older. It could be a life-or-death issue

Aging volunteer firefighters pose risks to public safety in rural US areas, with fewer younger people joining their ranks.

State of play: Two-thirds of US firefighters are volunteers, and there has been a significant decline in younger individuals signing up in recent years.
* More than a third of volunteers in small communities were over the age of 50 in 2020, compared to 15.9% in 1987.
* There were only 676,900 volunteers in the US in 2020, compared to 897,750 in 1984.

Underlying issues: Increased training requirements, juggling everyday life, and affordability are cited as factors contributing to the decline in volunteer firefighters.
* NVFC points to the inability of potential volunteers to afford living where a department is located and companies not allowing employees to leave work for calls as additional reasons.

Values of older volunteers: Despite the concerns, older volunteers’ experience plays an important role in decision-making and tutoring younger firefighters.
* They can make judgment calls and decisions based on years of experience, as well as teach necessary life skills.

View original article on NPR

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