Volunteer firefighters protect about half of Colorado’s residents, with solely volunteer departments being responsible for about 70 percent of the state’s land surface. And they are significantly understaffed. The Colorado State Fire Chiefs Association estimates that Colorado is short 3,500 volunteers in meeting National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) standards. That would require an increase of more than 40 percent to the present force. A Rocky Mountain PBS I-News analysis of state fire agency records highlights the critical role played by volunteers, as well as the impact of shortages on response times and numbers of responders. (Rocky Mountain PBS I-News, Katie Kuntz and Burt Hubbard)
As Bente Birkeland reports, an ever-shrinking pool of volunteers is leaving many communities at risk.
KGNU and Bente Birkeland bring you this report in partnership with Rocky Mountain PBS I-News. Learn more at rmpbs.org/news