I am one of the purported fat cat volunteers from a rural fire district. The recent vitriol in this paper toward the fire service has motivated me to clarify just what it takes to simply volunteer.
For many districts, one has to go through an application process consisting of written testing, physical testing, and a panel interview. Once approved, you must then attend the fire and EMT academies, each of which are over three months long of two or three nights/days a week.
After certification, members must maintain membership by meeting a quota of training in addition to their assigned duty shifts. If an EMT, you have to take continuing education classes to maintain your certification with the state.
This is the bare minimum. Many volunteers actively participate in extra training on nights and weekends.
I can’t speak for all districts, but this is typical of how the system works.
This is done by many dedicated men and women who have jobs, families, and plenty of other commitments. The volunteer firehouse is not some frat house where you can simply sign on and play around. It is where motivated and driven individuals sacrifice many hours in support of their communities.
So, please, show some respect for those who volunteer to serve. Disparaged or praised, we’ll keep on doing what we’ve kept on doing.