New Regulations May Cost N.M. Volunteer Fire Fighters

Many volunteer fire departments in New Mexico will lose a sizeable chunk of their funding if they do not meet new state requirements. 

Newschannel 10's Tina Berasley traveled to Dora, to get the latest on how firefighters are reacting to the news. 
The New Mexico State Forestry Division has examined its Joint Power Agreements or JPA's, and found out many did not meet federal and state laws. They will now require firefighters to obtain a "Red Card" before assisting them in fighting fires outside their municipalities, or they will not be reimbursed for their efforts. In order to get this certification firefighters have to complete more then 30 hours of classroom training, as well as pass a rigorous physical fitness test.

Under the current agreement, municipalities like the Dora Volunteer Fire Department get paid to fight fires alongside state firemen, money used to maintain their equipment. That policy is about to change, beginning next year only departments with at least several "red card" firefighters will receive funding. 

Newschanel10 spoke with the Forestry Division and they say safety is the number one reason behind the new regulations. They believe any training the fire departments can get will be beneficial to both agencies. But Dora Fire Chief Paul Luscombe doesn't think it is a good idea. "I've got gentlemen on this fire department that are not going to be able to do this...test, and I can't afford to lose that knowledge and that dependability behind the wheel of one of these trucks because it is the operator of the truck's ultimate responsibility for the people who he's directing to fight that fire."

The Forestry Division says more than half of the state's municipalities are already on board. The remaining departments will have until early next year to decide whether or not to sign the agreement.