North Liberty Fire Department looking for more firefighters, decreased response time

Fire equipment is stored in the lockers at the North Liberty Fire Department on Oct. 7, 2019....
Fire equipment is stored in the lockers at the North Liberty Fire Department on Oct. 7, 2019. Staff is hoping to recruit about ten more volunteers to the department. (Aaron Scheinblum/KCRG)(KCRG)
Published: Oct. 7, 2019 at 3:07 PM CDT
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As one of the fastest growing towns in eastern Iowa continues to expand, so is its search for more firefighters.

The North Liberty Fire Department says after adding part-time staff to the team, it needs more volunteers to continue to lower response times. Contrary to that goal, the department has seen a significant increase in calls.

In 2018, the department said it took a record-high 1,300 calls. In 2019, the staff expects to break that record. For a fire department that only has one full-time employee, its fire chief, staff explained the department needs help now more than ever.

Dustin Wherry, a volunteer firefighter for the department for the last six months, his service is fulfilling a lifelong dream.

"It's very rewarding to be able to come here and serve your community and help anyone in need," Wherry said.

Wherry admits he needs a neighbor at his locker. In fact, the agency needs about ten new locker neighbors to its volunteer squad.

"This time's a little bit different in that we've recently transitioned into some part-time staffing," Bill Schmooke, Assistant Fire Chief of the North Liberty Fire Department, said. "So it's left us a little bit of a hole as far as the volunteer ranks are concerned."

Whether a part-time or volunteer firefighter, Wherry admits training can take up a decent amount of time. He said that hands-on experience at their training facility allows them to learn valuable information while also serving the community.

"What's really good about our part-time program is it gives [volunteers] to get even more training," Wherry said. "Because part of them being here overnight is they dedicate a certain time for training every day. So we can come up, hang out with them at the station, and be able to run calls with them, come down here and do training with them, and work on the things they're working on, too."

Wherry said he was bitten by the bug of firefighting from a young age. Despite having the title of a volunteer, he and the others are definitely put to work, but the hard work is well worth it.

"Embrace the grind," Wherry said. "It's going to be a lot of time, a lot of time commitment, but it's fun. It's a lot of fun."

The North Liberty Fire Department is trying recruiting about 10 people, and they do not have to live in city limits to apply.

For more information on the application process, visit the