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Local Volunteer Firefighters Underfunded

Fire departments like Wakarusa Township are mostly made up of volunteers who don’t receive money from the state, but rely on local tax funding.

This is a problem throughout Kansas as most volunteer stations lack the latest updated equipment. Wakarusa fire chief Mike Baxter realizes this limits some of the ways Wakarusa Township can help the community.

“We still provide a service, sometimes it’s not, we don’t have all the equipment that may be needed,” Baxter said. “We’ve got to call outside resources to come in.”

The lack of funding doesn’t only affect the health of the community the station serves. The volunteer’s equipment isn’t up to standards to keep them safe in a dangerous job.

“I’ve got probably half of my department in gear that’s 10 to 12 years old, if not older,” Baxter said. “So that’s an important aspect is their safety.”

Wakarusa Township is in the midst of transitioning to a new firehouse next door, but a lack of funds has continually pushed that date back.