RADCLIFF, Ky. (WDRB) -- The Radcliff Fire Department is feeling the effects of a national volunteer firefighter shortage, and Assistant Fire Chief Bob Mahanna said the department needs more help.

"We're at that critical level where we've really got to reach out," Mahanna said.

Right now, the department has just five volunteers. It needs up to 15 more.

"Back when I joined 32 years ago, we had about 32 firefighters, and they were all volunteer," Mahanna said. "They've gotten older and left or moved away and got us into the situation we're in now."

The situation in Radcliff mirrors a nationwide trend. The National Volunteer Fire Council's most recent study shows the number of volunteer firefighters dropped 12 percent from 1984 to 2014.

Mahanna said it's becoming more difficult to recruit.

"There's such a demand on people's time," he said. "It's not mom works and dad stays at home or vice versa. It's mom and dad are both working, and they just don't have time."

Radcliff is a combination department. Eight paid firefighters are there around the clock, but volunteers make a big difference.

"We always have those double runs, and also we have those bigger runs where we need additional help," Mahanna said.

When the Las Margaritas Mexican restaurant burned to the ground last month, the city had to call on Vine Grove for backup.

"That's kind of leaving their community unprotected, and we don't want to do that," Mahanna said..

The city is offering to pay for all volunteers' training and equipment. The offer is open to anyone over 18 who lives within a mile of the city and can pass a physical and background check.

"They don't have to make every call, we just ask that they're there for the extended rescues, structure fires, bigger type of emergencies," Mahanna said. "The biggest thing they're gonna get out of us is being a part of a family."

People can fill out an application at Radcliff Fire Headquarters at 604 South Wilson Road in Radcliff or call (270) 351-1975 between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. Interested applicants can also e-mail rfd.recruit@gmail.com for more information.

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