VAN BUREN, MO (KFVS) - Many small fire departments struggle to find well-trained volunteers.
Some in the Heartland are joining forces to apply for a FEMA grant that would pay to train new recruits.
The fire department in Van Buren only has 16 volunteers and small $8,000 annual budget.
Fire Chief Curt Majors said money from the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant would cover all of their training costs, including new equipment and travel expenses.
Van Buren firefighters also respond to car crashes and medical calls.
Majors said having the ability to teach them new skills will lead to faster response times and better outcomes.
“We like to fill in the gaps with any kind of emergency, so if an ambulance crew needs help we want to be able to help them not only do extrication at a car wreck, but help package up a patient and get them to a hospital faster,” said Majors. “With any type of call the more volunteers we have that can show up, the faster we can get the job done and mitigate the loss of property and hopefully prevent any loss of life.”
Damien Underwood has been a volunteer firefighter for more than three years.
He says being able to learn new skills help them do their job faster and keep the community safe.
“Having more people come join us with this funding it would help out a lot," he said. "It could make for faster calls, more lives being saved, more properties being saved just anything and everything.”
According to the Ozark Foothills Regional Planning Commission, interested volunteer fire departments must be located in one of the following counties: Butler, Carter, Reynolds, Ripley or Wayne.
For more information, contact Chelsae Cordia at (573) 785-6402 by March 12, 2019.