Pandemic adds stress to already strained rural fire departments
The pandemic has exacerbated struggles rural fire departments face. - Dreamstime/Dreamstime/TNS

Over the past 30 years, fire departments in both urban and rural areas have struggled to recruit new firefighters into a profession that’s more than half volunteers. In rural America, the pandemic has brought the crisis to a new apex. Rural firefighters have been on the front lines of the pandemic, tackling wildfires and vehicle accidents even as they transport ill and injured residents to hospitals. COVID-19’s heavy toll on rural hospitals has extended to emergency responders, meaning firefighters are answering more medical calls than ever before. The increased workload, and the specter of va...