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Community reacts to volunteer firefighter shortage in Limestone County

WAAY 31 talked to the president of one volunteer fire department, and he explained why the county needs more volunteer firefighters.

Posted: Oct 2, 2018 5:37 PM
Updated: Oct 2, 2018 5:44 PM

A Limestone County community is in need of more volunteer firefighters. Currently, 18 people who live in Tanner volunteer at it's station, but the president of the Tanner Volunteer Fire Department said that isn't enough.

A man who lives and works near the fire station said he thinks the department is doing the best it can.

"They're not here long. They switch from their personal vehicle to their emergency vehicle," Chris Schuster said. "And their sirens are on in 30 seconds to a minute."

Schuster owns the body shop next door to the Tanner Fire Department and when he's working on vehicles, he sees the volunteer firefighters go out on calls.

However, once a call comes in, the volunteer firefighters have to make their way to the station from wherever they are in the county.

Derrick Gatlin, the president of the volunteer department, explained why they need more.

Gatlin said between eight to ten people respond to a call, and the station currently only has eighteen people who help out, but not all of them can fight fires.

"Well if there is nobody to put the fire out, who's going to do it?" Gatlin said.

Schuster said he hopes the shortage is a wake-up call that the department needs help.

"Their response time...They're doing what they can," he said.

Schuster said he hopes, if the worst was to happen and he needed their help, they'd be able to get there fast enough.

"If we're doing welding on a car or something and it reignited overnight, it could be bad," he said.

The Tanner Volunteer Fire Department said it hopes the community will volunteer, because the more names they can get on their roster, the faster they can responded to emergencies.

The president of the fire department also said there are about 325 firefighters in all of Limestone County that cover over 600 square miles.

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