Orange firehouses struggle to find volunteers

Posted: Updated:

Orange County fire departments that almost exclusively rely on volunteers are struggling to attract new recruits at a time when most people are looking for a steady paycheck.

Fire Chief Mark Slesinski, of the Florida Fire Department, says his fire company already lost 25 volunteers, and that can affect response time.

"I have calls where I have maybe eight people show up," Slesinski says. "[For] a working fire, we need 25 to 30 people."

Orange County Fire Coordinator John Horan says he is seeing shortages across the region.

"We'll get a lot of people coming in, but then they leave," Horan says.

Most local firehouses are equipped with state-of-the art gear and fire engines, but there are not enough volunteers to man them.

"What good is that equipment standing on the side of the road when I have no one to run the line and pump that water?" Slesinski says.

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