The Rose Valley Fire Station is in danger of closing unless more volunteer firefighters join up, according to Cowlitz 2 Fire & Rescue.
The station currently has six active volunteer firefighters, the minimum required by the Washington Surveying and Rating Bureau, said Assistant Fire Chief Alan Headley. If participation continues to decrease the station may lose its classification, which could raise insurance premiums for citizens in the area, he said.
"We want to keep it a viable response station," Headley said.
Toward that end, Cowlitz 2 is holding a community meeting at 6:30 p.m. May 1 at Rose Valley Friends Church to discuss the future of the district's Rose Valley station. Refreshments will be provided.
"We want to really explain the need out there, and the impact if it closes," Headley said.
The Rose Valley station, which opened in 1967, responds to medical incidents and fires in the areas of Rose Valley, Carrolls and Mount Pleasant. An average of 125 emergency calls for this station are dispatched every year, district records show.
Insurance companies typically charge higher rates for homeowners policies if the home is located more than five miles away from a fire station, Headley said. That's what happened with the Bunker Hill fire station that closed about a year and a half ago, Headley said.
"We tried hard to get more volunteer participation (at Bunker Hill), and we couldn't," Headley said. "We don't want that to happen in Rose Valley."
Crews from the full-time staffed headquarters station respond to all incidents in the district, but volunteer-staffed station helps prevent delays in emergency care and fire suppression. Also, without volunteer support, crews may be short-handed in certain incidents, according to a Cowlitz 2 news release.
Volunteers must live within five road miles of the station.
Nationally, volunteers make up 71 percent of firefighters, according to the National Fire Protection Association. But volunteer recruitment and participation has declined more than 10 percent nationally over the past two decades. Two-income households, longer commutes, and stricter training requirements are possible factors that contribute to the decline.