Who do firefighters call when they need help? You!
by Trinity Gruenberg
Minnesota ranks second for volunteer fire departments across the U.S. Volunteer numbers are dwindling, including those close to home.
The strain to find volunteers has caused some departments to combine with others or shut down entirely. Statewide, eight fire departments have closed between 2008 and 2015
Following the statewide trend, the Hewitt Fire Department is losing volunteers. Recent staff changes have left Hewitt with less than 10 volunteer firefighters.
The declining volunteer numbers have raised questions of an uncertain future including a possible merger or closure of the department.
“You don’t want to see coverage loss, or see it close,” said Hewitt Fire Chief Adam Templin.
According to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, local fire departments can operate with less than 10 individuals, “as long as local officials have determined that is what’s best for their communities.”
Across the state there are six fire departments operating with less than 10 volunteer.
Fire departments can continue to serve their communities with fewer volunteers; however, the number of volunteers impacts state funded aid. Departments with less than 10 volunteers could potentially lose state-funded retirement benefits....