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Number Of Volunteer Firefighters Falling In Texas

AMARILLO, Texas (AP) – A state official says the number of

volunteer firefighters in Texas has dropped to levels predating a

surge brought on by the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks seven years ago. Many found firefighting less glamorous than they thought it would be or opted for less time-consuming volunteer opportunities, Kurt Harris, president of the Texas Fire Marshal’s Association, said in Sunday’s editions of the Amarillo Globe-News.

“It’s wonderful if you can run a department with volunteers, but it’s also very difficult,” Harris said.

Nationally, the number of volunteer firefighters has decreased about 8.25 percent since 1984, according to the National Volunteer Fire Council. There were about 897,750 volunteers in 1984 compared to about 823,650 in 2006, said Kimberly Ettinger, director of communications for the council.

A recent training event in Canyon, just south of Amarillo in the Panhandle, illustrated the change. What used to be one of the biggest gatherings in the state with more than 1,000 volunteers over two nights drew less than 400 this year.

The numbers are down across a part of the state that made national news with massive wildfires almost three years ago.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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