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As calls for aid increase, volunteer fire departments struggle to respond

Local fire departments in Montana - many staffed entirely by volunteers - are dealing with more calls every year. Some are hiring full-time firefighters to meet the demand.

COLUMBIA FALLS - When Karl Weeks started volunteering with the Columbia Falls Fire Department 23 years ago, he'd get called to duty every few days for things like car accidents, suspicious smoke or the occasional structure fire.

Now the calls for help arrive daily.

As Montana's population continues to grow, fire departments in communities large and small are being asked to do more every year. But...


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