Aging Firefighters Sound the Alarm
GOSHEN - As the Goshen Fire Department (GFD) begins it’s 67th year, we find ourselves with 20 members on our active roster. Of those 20 individuals, there are 13 men and 7 women who volunteer their time to the department - a ratio of 65% to 35%. The average age of those members is 41 with 9 individuals, or 45%, being over the age of 40. The number of Goshen firefighters over the age of 50 is 7, or 35%.
According to the U.S. Fire Department Profile Through 2010 report recently issued by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), there are approximately 1.1 million firefighters in the United States. Of that total, 70% were volunteers with 95% of them working in communities with fewer than 25,000 people (Goshen’s 2010 population was 1,054). The report also points out that the number of firefighters on a national basis over the age of 40 had increased to 52% of the total, with 29% being over the age of 50.
Since 1986, the number of firefighters over the age of 40 in communities with populations of 2,500 or less has steadily increased from 37% to 52%. At a time when the U.S. population increased 28.5% to 308.7 million people, there has been a corresponding decrease in the number of volunteer firefighters across the country.
You don’t need a college degree to realize that the reduction in the number of volunteer firefighters combined with the persistent aging of the group charged with protecting the smallest communities in our nation is trending in the wrong direction.
In 2011, the GFD reached out to the community on numerous occasions asking residents to consider joining our ranks. Our efforts resulted in the addition of one former member who was convinced to rejoin the organization.
We meet each and every Tuesday night at the Goshen Fire Station which is located at 56 Main Street. Please consider lending a hand. The GFD purchases all your equipment and pays for all your training. All we ask of you is your time.
(January 16, 2012)