January's magazine editorial cartoon speaks to any department which relies on volunteers or paid-on-call personnel to protect their district. Quality local jobs are dwindling and people have become less interested in helping their communities to concentrate on second careers, soccer games, and a myriad other distractions. In most cases, they no longer work and live in the same community, as was the case just 10 or 15 years ago. What's more, the crop of young replacements are leaving for the promise of brighter futures in larger cities where their service as volunteers is not needed - and who can blame them. It's a very scary situation with no immediate answers. Aggressive recruitment and retention is not enough - if the people aren't there, they aren't there!
The volunteer or combination fire department will not go extinct, but they will look dramatically different in the decades to come. Creative solutions by smart and dedicated people will navigate through this crisis - they always have! Fires will go out, people will be saved, and emergencies responded to - it's just a question of how far you can stretch what you have and how innovative you will be with the future.
How times have changed, eh? Your thoughts?
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