The volunteer fire and emergency medical services is a challenging, exciting and rewarding experience, conveniently condensed into one package. It also offers several viable options which you can pursue as a volunteer.
It’s likely that the average person in our community doesn’t know that volunteers are indeed providing their emergency fire and medical services. We influence outcomes that directly affect people’s lives by responding at a moment’s notice, whether it’s day or night, to put that fire out, to rescue that person in harm’s way, or sometimes just to give the assurance that, in fact, nothing is wrong. In 75% of the communities in this country, volunteers provide the only organized force to do this work.
Why is this special type of volunteerism so critical at this time? In the past ten years, the ranks of emergency services volunteers have declined by 100,000 people. Conversely, the workload has practically doubled.
They come from our community. They vary in age and they are both men and women.
Where does the leadership come from to organize and direct this unselfish effort? It comes from within the ranks. The Chief and line officers, who are elected by their peers, have total responsibility for the safety of lives and the preservation of property within our jurisdiction.
Volunteer emergency services is a grassroots operation. For hundreds of years, volunteer firefighters did what they had to do to provide services. When they needed something, they had a bake sale or a homemade fundraiser of some sort within the community to get the funding. It was this very thing that made them so visible, respected, and so much appreciated in the community.
One of the most successful programs to bolster emergency services is rooted in recruiting young volunteers. Fire Explores are those volunteers between the ages of 14 to 18. It may surprise you to learn that even those 14 to 18 years old can volunteer to join the our Explorer Post.
There are only three options for communities to maintain viable emergency services:
1. Recruit and retain volunteer firefighters
2. Maintain a combination volunteer and career Fire Department
3. Hire entirely career firefighters
Recruiting and retaining volunteers is obviously the most cost effective source of maintaining this service on behalf of all residents