Volente e-News

July 08, 2009

Article in Parade Magazine; Volente VOLUNTEER Fire Dept

Why They Serve

(Editor's note: In case you missed the July 05, 2009 edition of Parade magazine, supplement to the Sunday Statesman, there was an article paying tribute to America's volunteer firefighters. We agree wholeheartedly, and so below is an excerpt, complete with a link to the full article on the Parade website.)
Parade Magazine Logo

72% of America's firefighters are volunteers
Why They Serve
by Peter Greenberg
published: 07/05/2009 in Parade 
When the fire alarm sounds, across America, grocers immediately leave their checkout lanes, architects put down their pencils, plumbers drop their wrenches, chefs hand over their cooking chores, and telephone repairmen leave the lines cut. Our nation's volunteer firefighters are always prepared to serve.

Of the estimated 1.15 million firefighters in the U.S., 72% are volunteers. Their departments can be found in small towns and large cities, in isolated areas of Alaska and New Mexico, on Indian reservations, even abroad. More than 20,000 of the nation's 30,200 fire departments are all-volunteer. In fact, most small and midsize communities in the U.S. rely primarily on volunteer firefighters. They are central to the American community, and in many towns, they are the community. 
These days, volunteer fire service can sometimes mean making do with a barely equipped firehouse on a limited budget or having the local car dealer pitch in to fix broken equipment. But it doesn't mean using untrained staff. Most volunteer fire departments require the same standards of their members as paid municipal firefighters. The volunteers train in CPR, hazardous materials, communications, and advanced firefighting techniques. The work also is no less dangerous: Of the 118 firefighters who died in the line of duty in 2007, 68 were volunteers. 

VVFD = Volente VOLUNTEER Fire Department

 All of us have watched the old Westerns and the "bucket brigade" made up of the entire townsfolk coming together to put out the fire.  Everyone realized they had a job to do.  The men, women, and children worked hard to get the fire out quickly.  After all it was their community.
Here at Volente our VOLUNTEER fire department has come a long way in the last few years.  We have four full time firefighters, and we have upgraded our fire fighting equipment significantly, anchored by our two beautiful fire engines. 
As your new VVFD board finds their footing and continues to guide the VVFD in how our financial resources are applied, it has become obvious that the highest priority issue is staffing.  We need volunteers!

We have adequate equipment, we have a core group of professional firefighters, but without additional volunteer staffing the fire department's ability to fight fires, limiting physical damage, and potentially saving the lives of our fellow citizens can be hampered.
If a professionally trained firefighter, whether volunteer or paid, has to drive the tanker truck, direct traffic, operate the water pump on the engine, or other less demanding tasks instead of fighting the fire, the VVFD is at a disadvantage.  The reality is that our fire department may not be able to address situations that the fire fighters are trained to address, as they will be understaffed.  Entering buildings to save lives are one example.  2 can enter, with 2 outside as backup.  If just one firefighter cannot be part of the 2 in/2out team as they are required to operate a truck or other necessary activity then our fire fighters are compromised in their ability to maximize their effectiveness in dealing with the issue.
There is a brief introduction to volunteering at
Though this information is focused on the many hours required to become certified as an EMT or firefighter there are many ways to volunteer with a much lower time commitment.  These include driving the tanker truck, traffic control, etc.  All much needed functions that require very little training and free up the personnel to do what they need to do to best protect our property and citizens.  There are jobs open to men and women, young and old. Besides the equipment we have to operate is much more fun then the old wooden buckets.  Who knows - you may get to run the siren and operate the flashing lights!  I hope you think about this community need and are able to come and learn more.  Please do encourage your friends and neighbors to think about this topic as well.

(This article originally appeared in the March 2009 Volente Voice newsletter)