By Siafa Lewis

WINSLOW TOWNSHIP, N.J. (CBS) — Worker shortages have plagued volunteer fire companies around the region for years. But for one community the need has reached desperate levels, leading to the Cedar Brook firehouse shutdown.

It is sadly and frustratingly a problem that very well may be coming to your neighborhood. Skyrocketing costs, an increased demand for services, combined with a decrease in the ranks of volunteer firefighters, resulting in stations like this one being forced to close.

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“I feel, and many others feel, that are in my position, part of a national epidemic, to be honest with you. And we’re gonna get into there. It’s hurting our volunteer system,” Winslow Township Fire Chief Marc Rigberg said.

As Rigberg explained in great detail, times are changing. Volunteerism is down and to solve this problem — effectively servicing a growing community with fewer firefighters — is a problem he cannot solve.

“We would like the community to help support us and find people that are willing and able to be volunteer firefighters. Some of the things that we’re discussing now that we’re putting some of the finances is to go out to the public in February for a staffing referendum, some additional volunteer incentives in that as well. And some additional equipment requests to support all these things,” Rigberg said.

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While most residents at the meeting opted not to speak publicly, one young lady did and she shared her concerns afterward.

“My concerns are that I live in the development that’s one street over. There’s 174 houses. There was 175, my neighbor’s house burned to the ground two Friday nights ago,” Leslie said.

In the event there isn’t an uptick in the numbers of volunteers who sign up to join this department, the lone viable solution seems to be hiring more full-time firefighters, at a cost of course, though Leslie has another idea.

“I’m a little surprised that we can’t get any money from the government to keep things open. I just want to be safe,” she said.

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For now, Cedar Brook does not have active firefighters stationed here, which can’t be comforting for nearby residents. But Chief Rigberg insists he will do everything in his power to ensure this closure is just a temporary one.