Lauderdale County Fire Departments See Shortage, Make Plea For Help

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LAUDERDALE COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) - In an emergency, every second counts.  However, when departments are short-staffed response times can suffer.

The Lauderdale County volunteer fire departments are in need of new members.  Now, the area chiefs are banning together with a plea to the community.

Across Lauderdale County, 14 volunteer fire departments make up a force of first responders.  But as the number of calls go up, area fire chiefs say, the number of volunteers drops off.

“We do this because we want to help people, and if we don’t respond, no one will,” said Tony Eckl, Underwood/Petersville Volunteer Fire Department Chief.

When rumors started to surface among the community about repeated calls for fire departments to respond to a scene, the area chiefs called a meeting, to address the issue.

These Lauderdale County fire chiefs say, often times several departments must be dispatched, because the primary crew just doesn’t have enough people.

“We’ve had concerns come up with people who listen to the scanner and we just tried to clarify, while you may sometimes hear a second page for a department, it doesn’t mean that there’s no one coming,” said Eckl.

Once a first goes out for help, if dispatchers do not hear a response within three minutes, they send out a second page.  The chiefs say this is just the sure sign they need more volunteers.

“To me, as a member of the volunteer fire department you don’t have to fight fires, you don’t even have to run calls,” said Eckl.

A volunteer can also help with maintenance or finish paperwork.  The Lauderdale County chiefs say, no matter what position you pull with the fire department, all the volunteers play a big part in the safety of their community.

Many of the departments need people to help during the day time hours on weekdays.

Anyone is welcome to apply.

If you would like to help, you can contact any of the fourteen Lauderdale County volunteer fire departments.