Ashland Fire & Rescue in need of more volunteers

Published: Mar. 16, 2021 at 9:18 PM CDT
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ASHLAND, Neb. (WOWT) - When calling 911, you expect a quick response from fire and rescue but it can put pressure on departments that rely on volunteers to leave work.

Usually, during the day, Ashland Fire and Rescue Chief Mike Meyer has his fingers crossed that enough members can leave work to answer a call.

“Fire has been able to cover all their calls however, we’re responding with numbers that aren’t ideal or dangerous to those firefighters,” said Meyer.

Ashland Fire and Rescue covers 115 square miles of answering calls in town, on the highways, and train tracks around it.

Volunteer Brandon Gammel says about 10 volunteers like him answer 100 calls a year but it’s not easy.

“I can’t leave my job to come out and help so you just hope somebody is in town or somebody might have a day off,” said Gammel.

The chief is asking Ashland’s City Council and Rural Fire Board for money to hire paid first responders.

“If we had one full-time and two part-time that can do a 12-hour shift here during the week that would be fantastic,” said Meyer.

28 volunteer firefighters and 28 rescue squad members respond to emergencies.

The Ashland Fire District includes a growing number of lake communities and come summer, the populations will grow. So by then, the chief would like to add paid firefighters to guarantee a better response.

“We need people down here to be able to answer calls because our population increases dramatically in the summertime,” said Meyer.

Dedicated Ashland volunteers try to make every call from a fire, crash, or a dog rescue but coverage is more guaranteed when some can’t leave work and a first responder is on the job.

Ashland’s mayor tells 6 News he is in favor of adding paid fire and rescue personal if money can be found to pay them. That could mean raising some rescue squad fees and asking the Rural Fire Board to pitch in.

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