Lack of volunteers forces South Jersey fire department to consolidate stations in Camden County

A South Jersey fire department is being forced to consolidate three of their fire stations, due to a lack of volunteers.

"I’m going to miss the familiar sounds, you know, the familiar sights and sounds," says Donald Nickle, who lives in Tansboro.

The sights and sounds he’ll miss come from his neighbors across the street, the Tansboro Fire Station, in Winslow Township, which is closing.

"I see them there every week and they’ve gone to calls locally in the area. We are going to miss not having them," says Nickle.

They are not the only station in Winslow Township that will no longer be sounding the alarm, as Elm and Albion Volunteer Fire Departments will be doing the same.

The reason behind the consolidation is due to a lack of volunteer firefighters.


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"This is a nationwide problem; some areas are impacted more than others. With that being said, we looked at the response rates on some of the apparatus, some of the stations and we adopted a restructure plan for the fire department," says Marc Rigberg, the Fire Chief of the Winslow Township Fire Department.

Chief Rigberg says that restructuring consists of combining those three departments to operate out of their headquarters on Cedar Brook Road.

"Winslow Township is a big town, so that’s going to increase response time, traffic and what not," says Nickle.

Fire officials say they believe the response time will remain the same, mainly because over the years they’ve been able to hire some paid firefighters who work around the clock, at strategically placed stations.

"They kind of respond to all the incidents and are usually the first arriving piece," says Chief Rigberg.

Despite those additional paid firefighters, they still need the help of volunteers to keep the department going.

Chief Rigberg says he understands the issues of pay, time and labor are a major factor in the decline, which is why they offer the highest incentives they legally can.

Fire officials say this volunteer shortage is a problem across the nation and in order for it to be solved, support needs to come from the state, local and federal level.