Volunteer firefighters desperately needed across Jefferson County

The upcoming winter season comes with a lot of worry for some volunteer departments in our state who are in need of some help.

JEFFERSON COUNTY, ARKANSAS, Ark. — With the cold weather creeping in and the holidays right around the corner, fire departments are entering their busy season. 

But this season comes with a lot of worry for some volunteer departments in our state.

There are a total of 15 volunteer fire departments in Jefferson County and Altheimer Fire Chief Eddie Anderson said all of those are almost at a “dangerous level” of need.

“We need people. Bad,” he said. 

Anderson said it’s a cry for help from volunteer fire chiefs throughout southeast Arkansas.

“A lot of the departments have people on the roster, but the people aren’t showing up to come to calls and fighting fires,” he said. 

Anderson is the chief of two departments in Jefferson County— Altheimer and Swan Lake— where he manages 10 firefighters for each station.

“I’ve got four to six that I can depend on when I get a fire to come out,” he said. 

That number, according to Anderson, dwindles to one or two during the daytime since most of their jobs are many miles away.

“There’s been departments in Jefferson County when they get a call, they have to tell dispatch they don’t have anybody to respond and to call the next closest department,” he said. 

This trend is something Anderson has watched plummet for the last 10 years, but it’s not just in his county or in his state, it’s nationwide. 

“To me, that’s just dangerous to our community,” he said.

Now that busy season is underway, Anderson said this desperate call is even louder.

“The more people we can have that want to be apart of the department and be an active member, the better off we all are,” he said.

If you’re interested in volunteering, call your local fire department for more information.