BRAZIL, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) – According to a study conducted by the Indiana Volunteer Firefighters Association, volunteer firefighters save Hoosiers roughly $4.5 billion in taxes.

However, officials say it’s never been more difficult to find volunteer firefighters. The Van Buren Township Volunteer Fire Department is one in need of volunteers. Chief of Safety and Health Cody Barnard said that they have an immediate need.

“We need volunteers,” Barnard said. “It’s not exclusive to our department or two departments, it’s a nationwide problem.”

According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, there are roughly 3.4 million less workers today than nearly three years ago. For Van Buren Township Volunteer Fire, the struggle to find volunteers has stretched well beyond that. Fire Chief Pete Taylor has spent 60 years fighting fires. He said that overtime he’s seen a steady decline in volunteers.

“When I started everybody helped their neighbor because their neighbors house might be on fire so we help everybody,” Taylor explained. “Now life is in the fast zone and it’s just not enough time for everybody.”

They currently have 10 volunteers, but Taylor said that need about 10 to 20 more volunteers. Despite the shortage, they’re still working as hard as they can to protect the community.

“We’re protecting them and the community has to be protected,” Taylor stated. “The more volunteers we have, the easier it’ll be to protect them.”

Barnard said that he’s seen people volunteer anywhere between 10 hours a week to even 50 hours a week volunteering. With the shortage of volunteers, it does add an extra workload to the currently volunteers. However, Barnard assures that they’re handling it to the best of their abilities.

“Everybody steps up to the plate,” Barnard said. “Everybody does extra duties and they just chime in and it’s a team effort.”

The IVFA will be hosting a meeting at the Van Buren Township Volunteer Fire Department to address the shortage of volunteer firefighters. This meeting will be located at 10080 N Harmony Hickory St. in Brazil.

If you’d like to volunteer, you call the Van Buren Volunteer Fire Department at 812-448-8239.