Jamestown Fire Department Chief Jim Reuther said the department is made up of great volunteers. He just wishes there were a few more of them.
Volunteers for the Jamestown Fire Department when they respond to calls and for training although all have other employment.
Reuther said the shortage of volunteers is the biggest challenge facing the department.
"We have about 27 volunteers," he said. "That is down about 10 from where we'd like to be."
Those volunteers average about 25 years with the JFD, Reuther said.
"Some are looking to retire really soon," he said. "There are no real replacement prospects."
Recruiting and maintaining volunteers has been an ongoing problem for years. The department has been short volunteer firefighters since at least 2008 when Reuther became chief of the department, he said.
"I don't know if there is an answer to how to get more volunteers," he said. "My goal was to get to 40 firefighters. That never did happen."
In the past year, the Jamestown Fire Department added one additional full-time person bringing the (FULL-TIME???) staff to six people.
"That has helped us catch up with inspections and just daily operations," Reuther said.
Outside of recruiting volunteer firefighters, Reuther said the department stands in good shape.
Problems with the state of North Dakota's ladder truck have sidelined that apparatus (SEEMS LIKE JARGON) for several months. The ladder truck was purchased by the state in 1984 as part of an agreement that the city of Jamestown provide fire crews in the event of a fire at the State Hospital.
The ladder truck needs about $200,000 in repairs. The state of North Dakota will make the determination whether to repair or replace the truck. The costs for a similar truck new are from $850,000 to over $1 million.
Other trucks within the JFD are in good shape, Reuther said.
"The city has been good to us," he said. "They depreciate out the trucks and replace them about every 25 years."
Along with funds from the city of Jamestown, grants for equipment purchases have totaled about $500,000 over the past 20 years.
"Grants for vehicles are tougher to get these days," Reuther said, referring to grant applications he had made to replace the ladder truck.
The Jamestown Fire Department maintains two buildings for its fire equipment. Reuther describes the main fire station on 2nd Avenue Southeast as being in good shape and working well for the department.
The Southside Station is located at the base of Mill Hill. Exiting the station and getting on the street is a safety concern, Reuther said.
"Another station up on top of the hill would be good," he said, referring to the area of southern Jamestown outside the James River Valley.
The Jamestown Fire Department's territory is within the city limits of Jamestown. It can respond to fires outside the city through mutual aid agreements with other departments.
The department also has a regional responsibility for hazardous materials incidents and water rescue. The water rescue element of the department includes trained divers and a remotely operated vehicle that can use cameras and sonar to search underwater for submerged vehicles or other objects.
Reuther said the department most commonly responds to structure fires in Jamestown but the volunteers are trained for many different types of fires and situations.
Anyone interested in volunteering with the department can call 252-1441 or email email@example.com