WHITEFORD TWP, MI (WTOL) - The number of new volunteer firefighters joining rural departments is on the decline.
In less than 10 days the Whiteford Township Fire Department has responded to 15 calls. This is just another reason why the chief said they need more volunteers.
"It's really taxing and that's where more people come into play, is really helpful," said Chief Adam Pickard, Whiteford Township Fire Department.
The majority of the calls they respond to are not actually fires. But in a 48 hour period, the department responded to two structure fires. One where they had to put out a fire in a garage.
"It's not normal for southeastern Michigan, specifically in our area: Bedford Township, Whiteford Township, Ottawa Lake all of Monroe Country really," Pickard said.
With an older generation of firefighters stepping town, it is harder to get younger volunteers to join.
"We're really struggling to get the people on the apparatus and get the volunteers and have that sense of volunteerism," Pickard explained.
Responding to calls at 2 a.m. and not getting paid for it is a tough sell. But Chief Pickard says it is worth it.
"It's a tight knit community," he said. "You build relationships, lifelong friends. You learn just all kinds of crazy stuff. Stuff you'd never see the in real
world. You just learn a lot of stuff. A lot of leadership, a lot of responsibility."
The chief said you don't have to live in Whiteford Township if you want to join the department, but you do have to live within a certain radius. If you want to volunteer, follow this link.