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MADISON COUNTY, Ala. – Volunteer fire departments are always looking for more volunteers to help aid and serve their communities, but like most things, the COVID-19 pandemic is putting a strain on recruiting and keeping volunteer fire departments fully staffed.

While many cities have full-time, paid fire departments, areas in the county rely heavily on volunteer fire departments.

Without people serving in that role, emergency calls can go unanswered.

Madison County alone has 16 volunteer fire departments, and Monrovia Volunteer Fire Department Captain Blake Mathis says volunteerism has dropped this year due to the pandemic.

He believes it has to do with people wanting to limit their contact with strangers.

Mathis says people aren’t necessarily rushing out to volunteer anywhere – not just with Monrovia – and volunteer organizations have had to cancel community events, leading to less recruitment.

He adds whether people are volunteering or not, the emergency call volume – which was low at the beginning of the pandemic – is trending up.

“The first few months, they were actually very low,” he explained. “I think people were nervous about first responders bringing it [COVID-19] into their home. For the first three or four months, the calls actually went down. The last three or four months, they’ve gone up quite a bit – drastically, as a matter of fact.”

Monrovia has about 30 to 40 volunteers, depending on schedules, and Mathis says they are looking for people of different ages, backgrounds, experience levels, and work schedules to serve.

70 to 75 percent of their emergency calls are medical, so anyone with an EMT license is a good candidate to volunteer.

On their website, it says:

If you have the heart to serve the Monrovia community, we have volunteer opportunities for you.

We currently have openings for volunteer firefighters, EMTs, support staff, and junior firefighters. No previous experience is necessary to apply.

If you live in or near our response area and are interested in volunteering, Contact Us and we can discuss what it’s all about.

If someone wishes to volunteer but doesn’t live near Monrovia, Mathis says they can call the station at (256) 837-6730 and they will be glad to help find a volunteer fire department near.