I walked into a business the other day wearing a firefighter T-shirt, which immediately prompted a heated discussion about how inept some local fire departments were. Apparently, the person doing the most complaining had to wait a few extra minutes at an accident scene a few months ago because there wasn’t enough volunteer firefighters directing traffic.
I tried to explain to him that with the limited amount of volunteers most fire departments could produce at any given time, we were lucky to have enough on hand to extricate patients and provide first aid and fire protection if needed. I asked him why he didn’t volunteer to help his community and he replied that he was too busy fishing.
I am deeply concerned about the ability of local volunteer fire departments to sustain operations with the limited amount of people volunteering to help. If we didn’t have these volunteer fire departments, our homeowners’ insurance rates would go through the roof. We would also not have anyone to respond to auto accidents, fires, floods, gas leaks, missing persons, and a host of other emergencies.
We need help recruiting and training good firefighters. I am surprised the state legislature hasn’t stepped up and provided incentives for people to volunteer as firefighters. Things like free or reduced tuition in state colleges and universities, free license plates, some type of retirement plan, or reduced state income taxes might be reasons for some people to volunteer. Art Kirkendoll has always been a friend of emergency services, I’m hopeful he will continue his efforts as a state senator.
We are fortunate, however, in Logan County to have great support from the Logan County Commission. I am very grateful for everything they have done for the fire departments and emergency services in this county.
Volunteer fire departments are under pressure to insure its members are certified firefighters. With the limited amount of time these departments have to train, most members have to spend extra time away from their families to earn these certifications. Some firefighter training is available on line, while members some time have to travel many miles to attend training, sometimes at their own expense.
So, the next time you have to wait in traffic at an accident scene, try to imagine yourself being in an accident with volunteer firefighters trying to extricate you or members of your family. It is already stressful enough without people cursing at us and blowing their horns.
It is not our intention to hold traffic, any longer than necessary. In fact, long lines of traffic create a hazardous situation for firefighters and the people involved in an accident. We were fortunate at a recent auto accident that members of the state police witnessed how fast some drivers were speeding through the accident scene. It can be very dangerous for firefighters at these incidents.
If you’ve often considered becoming a volunteer firefighter, talk to someone in your neighborhood about joining. You can’t go wrong helping save lives and protect property near your home.
Thanks, once again, for allowing me express my opinions. Dosveedonyah!