We owe much to our volunteer firefighters

An upcoming training is your chance to join

Firefighter. What image comes to mind? A figure dressed in turnouts with a helmet and boots silhouetted against a burning structure? That is accurate. But sometimes there is no burning structure. In fact, the majority of calls that our volunteer firefighters respond to, don’t involve a fire at all.

Take for example statistics shared in this week’s newspaper by two Lake Almanor Basin fire departments. The Peninsula Fire Department responded to 241 calls in 2018 with 59 of those involving a fire. In February, the Chester Fire Department responded to 59 calls, none of which involved a fire.

A majority of the calls that volunteer firefighters respond to are medical in nature. Firefighters are often the first at the scene of a call for medical aid at a home or business, or at the scene of an accident. The demands on a firefighter can be extraordinary from being called out at all hours of the day or night, to attending mandatory meetings and trainings. Beyond that, many individuals pursue even more training opportunities.

As an example, students from a local emergency medical responder class recently completed 40 hours of didactic training as well as two skills days over six weeks. In addition to four members of the Plumas County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue, two members of Meadow Valley Fire, seven members from Quincy Fire, seven members of Indian Valley Fire, one member from Long Valley Fire, and one member from Plumas Eureka Fire participated and are now eligible to receive their EMR certification from NorCal EMS.

Coming up April 6, a tri-county fire academy is being offered in Quincy for new as well as seasoned firefighters. See the front section of this newspaper for more details. All of the county’s departments need volunteers and this is an excellent opportunity to begin the process.

Yes there is a big commitment in becoming a firefighter. In addition to the aforementioned demands for responding to calls and attending training sessions, volunteers often buy some gear at their own expense and rack up miles on their vehicles as they respond to either the scene directly or to the station to get the rig out. But the rewards are tangible — aiding one’s friends and family by protecting their property and their physical well-being. To all of those who have answered the call, we say Thank You! Your personal sacrifices make Plumas County a safer place for all of us to live.

As an indication of just how important fire response plays in our county, read the grand jury’s mid-year findings, published on a full page in the front section of this week’s newspaper. It is entirely about the status of Portola’s fire department and its contract with Eastern Plumas Fire and the recommendation that the relationship continue.

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