Oklahoma fire departments struggle to find, keep volunteers

OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. — Oklahoma fire departments are struggling to find and keep volunteers.

They said the issue goes far beyond their jurisdiction.

“The volunteer fire service is struggling not just here in Woodcrest. It’s actually growing into a nationwide problem,” said Chief Luke Young, Woodcrest Fire Department.

Outside the station is a help wanted sign. The job comes with no pay, inconvenient hours and time away from family, but Young said stations are in dire need.

“When you’re dispatched to over 500 calls a year. That’s a high demand,” Young said.

Woodcrests’ 17 volunteer firefighters serve over 8,000 people across 56 square miles, assisting with fires, car wrecks, and medical calls.\

“Some people can only dedicate one day a week and literally just be up here for a shift night,” Young said.

The chief said selling the job is a lot harder these days.

“Volunteer is just what it is. You’re literally volunteering your time, your time away from your family. We’re not asking for someone to make it their life because it’s not your career, it’s not your livelihood. But it is something you have to commit to doing,” Young said.

Young said it comes down to heart and being there for your neighbor on their worst day. He said if you can do that, the job is yours.

“I work two jobs and I still have time to dedicate to being here as well. You have time for the things that are important for you in life,” Young said.

If you’d like to volunteer your time at your local volunteer station, you can find that here.