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October 15, 2014     Indian Valley Record
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October 15, 2014
 

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6B Wednesday, Oct. 15, 2014 Bulletin, Record, Progressive, Reporter Volunteer fire department enrollment drops, medical calls rise A recent New York Times feature article discussed a national trend showing a significant decline in the number of volunteer frefighters. While volunteers still make up over two-thirds of the firefighters nationwide, many factors have contributed to this reduction over the past few decades. The next few columns will focus on Pluinas County, to see if the same patterns and reasons are holding true here. First, some background. The Times article discussed some of the reasons, including what we'll call "time starvation." It takes more time than ever to be a capable and well-trained volunteer firefighter. Since all of us have the same, fixed amount of time in our lives, it therefore requires spending less time on other personal needs and interests to be a volunteer. Training standards and mandates, fundraising for ever more expensive equipment and operating costs, and the ever-increasing need and training requirements for emergency medical services are all part of the realities facing the volunteer firefighting force. Let's jump back to the 1950s and '60s, when my father was a volunteer, then commonly called a "fireman." Training was usually held one weeknight a month, with occasional weekend drills. Another night once a month would be dedicated to a general meeting, where ongoing business was discussed and agreed upon, including fundraising. Today we typically train every week, and still can't cover everything we need without additional weekend sessions. There were more fires, and far fewer calls. for what was then called "first aid" or "resuscitator" calls. Over 30 fire service leaders gather in Downieville for a recent weekend volunteer fire department leadership class with a focus on recruiting and retention, led by Chief Ronny Coleman. Photo by John Pang ...... volunteers as chair of theservice is as old as this number of calls for Fire Protection Association. National Fire Heritage country," said Coleman, emergency service to fireColeman observed "... the Center in Emmitsburg, "but most communities do departments are generally, volunteer fire service is in Maryland, near the not understand their fireway up compared to many dire need of community ,. National Fire Academy. Hedepartment and how it decades ago, due to new support if they are to , . has over 56 years of fire works because it's generally challenges like EMS and survive as a viable means of service experience, and has always been there during hazardous materials fire protection ... nothing is INSIDE THE several annual fire service emergencies." What was incidents, motor vehicle going to help unless it's FIt EHOUSE leadership awards named inonce relatively simple hasaccidents including something the broader his honor, by necessity evolved into recreational vehicles, and community gets more TOM FORSTER Over the past four years, something much more growth in population or involved in. We are long Assistant Fire ChiefColeman has led a series of complex. Tlle neea Ior more tourism. past the days of fire Plumas Eureka Fire Department 17 weekend workshops on safety and sophistication in Fire vehicles, equipment departments being able to volunteer fire departmenta dangerous profession hasand personal protective survive on their own as Ronny Coleman is a leadership, with a focus on driven many of the equipment costs have relatively autonomous retired California state fire recruiting and retention,increased requirements, skyrocketed given the organizations." Coleman marshal and served as fire These workshops were along with the growth in increased sophistication in cites more cooperative chief in several cities and as funded by a grant from "mission" for fire the tools themselves, new training efforts with chief deputy director of the FEMA to CSFA, and were departments, and better tools, and the neighboring fire California Department of held around the state, Rather than being need for specialization like departments, and automatic Forestry, as it was then including one in Graeagleprimarily focused on fres,rescue. Just the protective and mutual aid programs as called, now Cal Fire. A in 2012. Hundreds of firetoday's fire department clothing alone for one two hopeful signs for the prolific author and service veterans completed typically responds to far firefighter can run upwards profession. "It's far too instructor, Coleman has the program. A group of more emergency medical of $4,000, plus another $2,500 much for any one volunteered to chair the volunteers including service calls than fires. The or more for self-containeddepartment to take on by California State Quincy Chief Robbie number of fires is down breathing apparatus. This themselves." Firefighters Association Cassou and this author across the country, even has led to more Committee for Volunteers pitched in to help teach in . though the population and time-consuming Coming soon in Part H-- for years, and also many of the workshops. The development has grown, fundraising needs. CombineOver the next few months volunteers as head of the final workshop led by This is due in great part to all of these current realities this colunm will explore State Fire Training and Coleman was held a few better building codes and with lack of time and, as a numerous questions that are Education Committee for weekends ago in materials, fire sprinkler result, the overall numberraised in this situation, such the State Fire Marshal's Downieville, with over 30systems, fire prevention of volunteers has declinedas "'Howand whydid theFwe Office. He is also one of the people attending from and smoke detectors, amongover 18 percent nationallyservioeget so Involvedin most knowledgeable fire Northern California: ' ' other factors. This is a very over the past 30 years, emergencymedlcM :: .... service historians, and "Volunteerism in the firegood change, but the totalaccording to the National servloes?'" PAID POLITICAL ADVERTISEMENT My Vision: The district has been through difficult times over the past few years, Balancing the budget is necessary but does not have to be done in ways that compromise our children's education. I want all students in the district to receive the best public education. Tough decisions are needed, and these can be done while improving communication, trust and respect in Plumas Unified School District. I am willing and eager to devote the time and energy that the communities, students, teachers and staff deserve as a member of the School Board. Here is a partial list of the hundreds of people who support Traci Betty Bishop Guy McNett Susan Bryner Brenda Morgan Michael Chelotti Ross Morgan Jan Davies Tim O'Brien Kitty DeWitt Dwight Pierson Steve DeWitt Garn Pringle Gretchen Hagwood, Jeff Ray Joe Hagwood Sally Rice John Holland Aaron Seandel Kacie Holland Dana Seandel Kelly Holt Arnold Selk Jeffrey Kepple Dennis Simpson Jonathan Kusel LaVerne Strate Rick Leonhardt Dana Ware Greg McIntire Marie White "The Right Choice" Paid for by Committee to elect Traci Holt for PUSD Board of Trustees 2014 Republican women to examine ballot propositions The Plumas County followed by the program. Brian Dahle and Sen. Ted Republican Women group Ballot propositions win beGaines' office. plans to meet at Longboards explained and state and area Reservations, costing $20, Bar & Grill at Plumas Pines candidates will be discussed, should be made to Liz Holston on Thursday, Oct. 23. The End-of-session reports will be at 836-4428 by Monday, Oct. 20. business meeting is at 11 a.m. presented from CongressmanThe public is also welcome to with.luncheon at noon Doug LaMalfa, Assemblyman attend for the program only. t i t