FREDERICK COUNTY, Va. - The Frederick County Fire and Rescue Department is seeking funding from the county for Fiscal Year 2018.
"We're seeking funding in most cases for staffing and equipment, with a decline in volunteers, which is not unique to Frederick County, it's not unique to the region, it's a nationwide issue," said Chief Dennis Linaburg.
The department is requesting funds for 27 additional firefighters and two training officers at a cost of $1.6 million annually.
"We're in a position where, with that decline in volunteers, we have to replace those with staff people," said Chief Linaburg.
He also said volunteering has become more of a commitment today than it used to be, so fewer people volunteer. This is because of people having busier schedules, and the Federal and State requirements to become a firefighter are more rigorous than in the past.
"All the volunteers, you know, they're not getting paid to do this. They're coming in after hours to volunteer. It requires quite a bit of training to be a volunteer, and folks just don't have the time anymore," Chief Linaburg said.
In 2016, the department responded to about 10,600 calls and having a shortage of staff could affect how fast crews respond to a call.
"The numbers are down on the people we have responding to calls. Emergency medical services is about 80 percent of what we do. We effectively get out on those calls and respond to the incident, but those second, third and fourth calls are what we struggle with some days," Chief Linaburg said.
The department is also seeking three million dollars to replace 334 self-contained breathing apparatus units that are reaching the end of their life expectancy.
"We've actually applied for several grants, and we're in the process now. We're in the third year of a recruitment and retention grant," said Chief Linaburg.
Last week, Fitch & Associates was awarded the contract to perform a comprehensive Fire and Rescue study on the entire county.
The study will look at every aspect of Fire and Rescue to include staffing, station locations, risk analysis, management and organization, funding needs and opportunities, service levels, equipment and apparatus, training, recruitment and retention and future planning needed in order to continue to serve the community.
The study is expected to begin in the next month and will likely take six months to complete.