What if volunteers didn't volunteer?

What if volunteers didn’t volunteer?

It is that time of year again. The time when your local volunteer fire departments send out their fund drive requests. There are some who see the letter and immediately toss it in the trash without even reading it. That’s fine, but lets look at it from another stand point. Let’s say this is your house here on the left. What if your local department didn’t have enough money to fix a broken truck or even pay their monthly fuel bill? I can tell you that this house was mostly saved. The garage was a total loss and there was significant damage to the house, but because the local volunteers were able to respond quickly the house wasn’t a pile of charcoal and all of the home owners irreplaceable possessions, like pictures and other keepsakes, were saved. The home owner is having repairs made and getting ready to live there again. Now am I saying that you are expected to give $5000 dollars or even $100? No, you give what you can. In this age of skyrocketing gas prices, and pretty much everything else, there is very little money left for anything else. The local volunteers face the same problems.

engine 6The '29To buy a new Pumper the base price is around $400,000. Now that is an Apparatus with little or no options added at the factory. The NFPA (National Fire Protection Agency) sets standards that the equipment must meet. That changes each year. Most of them are made for safety. We went from open cab trucks to fully enclosed cabs and that is just a basic change. But with changes comes added costs. Now lets add in the cost of outfitting the truck once it is built. Ladders, hose, fans and the miscellaneous other equipment all costs money. “Why don’t they just use the equipment and hoses from the truck they are replacing?” That is a good question. The answer is simple; they do for the most part. However equipment wears out or just becomes unserviceable.

turn out gear and training is also another expense

Turn out gear and training are also additional expenses

Personal Protective Equipment is still more money with the addition of the above. A complete set of turnout gear, this includes boots, pants, coat, gloves, nomex hood and helmet, can start at $1200 per firefighter. I said stat at. Depending on the type of gear and other variables, the price can climb way past the $2000 mark for each set per man. Now add in portable radios needs serviced, batteries need replaced and that is just hand held radios, I didn’t get started on the radios mounted in the trucks. Plus all of the other other equipment that must be serviced, repaired and replaced. Let’s talk about training. Most volunteer departments make the member pay for the class up front, but will reimburse the member upon successful completion. All of these things cost money. Have there been departments that have closed their doors? You bet your sweet bipi! Does that hit a community hard? Yes it does.

bingoNow if I have led to believe that if you don’t donate to you local Volunteer Fire Department or Volunteer Ambulance service they will shut their doors or not be able to respond, I apologize. While it is understood that most of us don’t have the extra money to give, even the smallest amount helps. Think of these guys getting up at all hours of the day and night, leaving family holidays and birthdays to go save the life or property of someone they never met. Listening to the agonizing screams as they cut someone out of their car; and they do it for FREE in all sorts of weather no matter when they are called. They do their own fund raising as well but the day-to-day expenses are astronomical. I hear you out there saying; “Well these guys have bingo’s don’t they?” Yep, they do. But there is expense added in there. You have to buy the equipment to host the bingo, promote it and make sure your bingo machine works. It all costs money. Yes I know, “It takes money to make money.” Also with everyone hurting these days, the turn outs at bingo’s and other fundraisers is dwindling. Once again, you are not being asked to donate thousands of dollars (although it would be greatly appreciated). Even $10 goes a long way. There are grants available to departments, but a department can be turned down for any number of reasons. Some departments have a grant writer to make sure that their request letter meets the requirements to go through each step of the process. Grant writers cost money, and even with one a department could still be turned down. Then each grant has specifics on what the money can be used for, and the department has to show it was used for the specified purpose or they have to pay it back.

realityDo I sound like I’m really plugging Volunteer Fire Departments? Well, as of May 1st, I will have been a Volunteer Firefighter for 22 years. I am a member of my local Volunteer Fire Department and I understand what it takes to make a department function every day. Even just basic office supplies are an expense. Remember too that this is a brotherhood. Hopefully you never need us, but if you do, think about what these guys are leaving to come to your emergency, and do it for no pay. They will respond to your call for help whether you donated or not. Saving life and property is what it is all about. At the end of the day if we have to use buckets to put the fire out, we will. Just keep in mind that it all costs money. Remember when you hug your spouse when that big red fire truck pulls up to your emergency, it was people like you who donated just a little but it made such a huge difference.

Remember from the Bible, Luke 6:38 – Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.”

john 1513