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Officials warn of firefighter shortage as fire season looms

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (News4Utah) - A lower-than-normal snow pack has fire officials wary of a big fire season -- especially since they say there aren't enough volunteer firefighters around Utah to help fight those fires.

"We know we're going to have fires," said Jason Curry, a spokesperson for Utah Division of Forestry, Fire & State Lands.

"Utah is in desperate need, in its rural communities especially," added Curry.

In recent years, he says, volunteer firefighter numbers have dropped--a pronounced trend in rural communities where they are needed most.

"A lot of the younger folks are no longer applying, and the median age of our department is going up," said Curry.

And, he says, it's not too late to contact your local department in the run-up to this year's fire season.

In Utah, he says, if rural communities don't get more volunteers they will need to raise taxes to fund adequare fire services.

"For example, California -- they have a large contingent of paid firefighters. In Utah, we don't have that, we rely heavily upon our volunteer departments," said Curry.

"We have wildfire starts every single day here in the state of Utah. There are house fires. It's a good way to give back to your community. It's a good way to get to know other people. It's a good way to get a start if that's something you're looking to do as a profession."


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