COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – Ohio’s state fire marshal is raising the alarm, over a lack of volunteer firefighters.

In Ohio, around 70% of all fire services, are performed by volunteers. But, due to a shortage, fire officials say it’s putting rural communities at risk.

“This isn’t just a job; this is a lifestyle. This is what we do, this is how we live,” said Keisha Amspaugh, fire chief of Mary Ann Township fire department.

Chief Amspaugh knows all too well the dedication and hard work it takes to become a firefighter. She started out as a volunteer at the Mary Ann Township fire department over a decade ago and worked her way up since.

“You know we could have two, three volunteers show up on one run, so it’s nothing for us to take two volunteer runs at a time,” said Amspaugh.

She says those volunteers are crucial because, even though her department has a few full-time and part-time staff, it’s the volunteers who give them the extra support needed in a crisis.

“I have no doubt, that within five years, if we don’t do something, we will probably have some volunteer fire departments go away,” said Kevin Reardon, Ohio state fire marshal.

Fire Marshal Reardon says the shortage of volunteer firefighters could slowly turn into a crisis. In the state of Ohio, there are 1,180 fire departments with approximately 70% of all fire service in the state provided by volunteers.

It’s why earlier this year, the Ohio Task Force on Volunteer Fire Service was formed, through Gov. Mike DeWine with the goal to improve and encourage volunteer fire service in Ohio.

“We’re going to try to help them find ways to survive, because the safety of the public is at stake, what are these communities going to do if their volunteer fire department goes away,” said Reardon.

Meanwhile, Chief Amspaugh say it’s a responsibility like no other, and one she hopes others take part in.

“These are our friends, this is our community, and we do, we go on calls where we know people, and it puts you in an absolute different perspective,” said Amspaugh

Some barriers for volunteer firefighters include the lack of pay, and high cost of equipment. However, the Ohio Task Force, is working to reduce those obstacles through training and federal funding, so that volunteer departments have support to protect their communities.