HEBRON | The "help wanted" sign is out at the Hebron Volunteer Fire Department.
"We can have 35 people on the roster and we only have 29," Fire Chief Chad Franzman said. "We've never had a full roster. It never worked out that way. It's hard to get people for no pay and for what you've got to go through, and it's hard with the way the economy is."
Franzman said Hebron doesn't have much business, so a lot of the volunteers have jobs outside of town or work midnight shifts. He's hoping to get volunteers who work in town or with shifts that would allow them to be available when most people are working. He said the shortage of volunteers is a national problem.
"One of the issues now is guys trying to pick up work shifts or work overtime, and how can you argue with that?" he said. "People are missing calls and shifts (at the department)."
With the department starting the process of trying to lower the town's insurance rating and save residents money on fire insurance, the need for volunteers is even greater. Franzman announced at Tuesday's council meeting the department is accepting applications until Aug. 1.
To be considered, volunteers have to be between the ages of 18 and 35 and be residents of Hebron or Boone Township. Applicants will be given an agility test and interviewed before a decision is made whether to accept them. Those with experience on other departments can be older than 35. Having emergency medical technician training is a plus.
If accepted, new volunteers must complete the six-month training course within a year. The next training course begins Sept. 11 in Union Township and goes two nights a week plus Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. The course covers basic firefighting, hazardous material handling, first aid, CPR, autism and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome training among other things.
If anyone can't attend this training course, it is offered frequently, but Franzman said it might be in Lake County or other location.
To apply, residents can go to the hebronfire.net website and click on the upper right corner link to the application. Anyone who doesn't have a computer can contact Franzman at (219) 808-3525 to arrange to receive an application.