A News story about the state of volunteer Fire Departments.
A lack of new volunteers could soon force a Union County fire company to make some major changes.
Fire Board Chairman Larry Erdley said, "We need people from the community to step up and say, 'Yeah, I'll participate.'"
That's the message from fire officials at the William Cameron Engine Company in Lewisburg.
The department currently has about 35 active members, and serves five local municipalities.
But dwindling volunteer numbers over the past decade have left them in a precarious situation.
Erdley explained, "We want to continue to operate as a volunteer company because it is far less expensive to the residents of the community."
Some say that may no longer be possible.
Tara Humphrey, of Lewisburg, noted, "With over-commitments, whether it's to your children and all the activities that are available to them, or work commitments, that sort of thing, people just tend to have less time on their hands."
It hasn't happened yet, but Erdley fears the day will come when there aren't enough volunteers to answer emergency calls here.
Fire officials say if more volunteers don't step up they may have to transition to a paid fire company.
It's a move that some people would support.
Erdley said, "If there are not volunteers that are able to provide the service, that's Plan B."
But firefighters say, make no mistake, a paid department would come at a greater cost to residents, most likely in the form of a tax hike.
Humphrey argued, "Fire coverage is necessary. So if the only way to provide that fire coverage is to have it be a paid cost, then it has to be a paid cost. Nobody wants to see more money going out of their pocket, but we need to have fire coverage."
Fire officials say volunteers are needed for all kinds of jobs and duties.
For more information, contact the William Cameron Engine Company at 570-524-2295 or visit http://www.wcec-lfd.org/.