Volunteer Firefighting levels low - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Volunteer Firefighting levels low

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BENTON COUNTY, Wash. -- Firefighters are ringing the alarm about the need for more volunteers.

Their staffing levels are below what they say they need to properly handle large fires and still respond to other daily calls.

According to Benton County fire officials, in district one they currently have 67 volunteers, but they need at least 90 to 100.  According to Franklin County's fire officials, district three has 44 volunteers, but they need at least 50.

While the current numbers look strong, in reality only 13 to 25 volunteers can be guaranteed to show up for every fire call.

"Not a lot of volunteers are allowed to leave their place of employment and come and respond to calls like they used to back in the '80's, you leave the hardware store, the gas station and reported to the fire station and you took care of the call and went back to work and we just don't see that,"explains Division Chief Mike Harris of Benton County Fire District 1.

Harris says some reasons for the drain on possible recruits is the intense training and family and work responsibilities.

People who have questions or are interested in volunteering can call Benton County fire officials at 509-737-0911 or Franklin County fire officials at 509-947-9306.