The Lewis County Fire Departments in South Lewis County are looking for volunteers to help with their responsibilities. The responsibility of a volunteer firefighter is many, but the comradery with the other members will far outweigh the hard work.
The local fire departments start with the application process, they have an entire packet if you are interested. They start with attending a volunteer training session. Each volunteer fire department does their own training. From there, there is an application and an interview process with the committee. If you are interested in becoming a volunteer firefighter, go to one of the training sessions, it's an experience we all should see.
Then you will have to take a health screening to make sure you have the physical abilities to do the job. It is an occupational health test which is not as strict as the armed services physical training tests. After a person has passed all the tests and their application is approved, it is submitted to the board for final approval.
In Toledo, once you are a volunteer firefighter, you are required to respond to 5% of the calls and 18 different training sessions. Training will consist of Emergency Medical Services, CPR, general basic emergency medical training, fire training will include basic firefighting skills including extraction in wildland fires.
Mike Dorothy, Fire Chief for Toledo stated, "If you are considering whether or not volunteering is an option for you, ask yourself these questions. Do I love my community? Do I wish that I could make a difference by helping others in their time of need? Do I enjoy spending my time learning new things? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may have a desire to be a volunteer. Our local Fire department needs volunteers. Please call or contact your local department today and inquire about being a volunteer.
Randy Pennington, who is a Winlock Fire Department Commissioner stated, "Winlock, Toledo and Napavine fire departments, over the last few years, have become what are known as Combination Departments. What that means is they have transformed from an all-volunteer agency into an agency that has both volunteer and paid staff. This has tremendous benefits but there is also a downside. The downside is the volunteer staff often lose members because volunteers feel they are not needed anymore. The paid staff immediately responds on calls so by the time the volunteer gets there, the ambulance/fire engine have already left and most likely already made patient contact or put the fire out so the volunteer feels a sense of not contributing. This is common throughout the fire service and for a variety of other reasons our ranks are thinning out, for example here in Winlock 40 years ago, almost every single volunteer worked here in Winlock, and could respond from work, people left the stores, the schools, their shops etc, now very few volunteers work in the area at all, again they feel not needed as they can't go on the majority of calls."
Randy continued, "Although this feeling among the volunteers of not being needed, becomes prevalent and does diminish our ranks, it is far from the truth. We are desperate for volunteers. Trying to think of a quote that could summarize the importance the volunteers are to the overall operations in EMS and Fire I thought of this illustration. Imagine the fire/ems service is a circulatory system of a person, made up of heart, blood and blood vessels of a patient."
This is what Randy stated about being a volunteer firefighter:
The patient is the person who needs our help.
Blood vessels are the conduit that brings the blood.
Blood is the life giving component that the patient needs to survive
The heart is the pump that moves the blood along.
Without any of the components the patient suffers and ultimately will die.
I think of our combination department in this way:
Blood vessels is the department
Blood is the responding crew
Heart is the volunteer crew that moves the blood along. With a weak pump the blood is slowly delivered or not delivered at all, hence the heart is a key part of the system, just like the volunteers are a key part to our system. Without them the system is pumping slow and weak or not at all, we need the heart of the system, that heart is our volunteers.
If you are interested in being a volunteer, please reach out to your local fire departments today.