Heather Nyberg-Schlotzhauer

Beacon Correspondent

Local volunteer fire departments are looking for new recruits to help serve the needs of the community. The local departments rely heavily on volunteers and therefor are in need of increasing their coverage.

”The Fire Service in Humboldt County and the communities we serve rely heavily on our volunteer firefighters,” Fortuna Volunteer Fire Department Chief Lon Winburn said. “We are looking for people that are motivated to a life style that portrays community involvement, family values and a positive attitude towards constant and consistent improvement.”

Although there is no pay with the positions there is a huge amount of satisfaction. “We urge you to consider supporting your community, saving a life, making a difference,” Winburn said. “These are just a few of the ultimate rewards of becoming a volunteer with your local fire department.”

It is clear that being a volunteer is very important and takes commitment.

”The benefits associated with being a volunteer firefighter are numerous,” Winburn said. “Not only do you feel the pride of community service, but you are able to work with people from all walks of life and experiences. There is wealth of knowledge in a volunteer fire department. Someone will have 'been there, done that' -- all you have to do is ask. The support network found in a volunteer fire department is like no other.”

The fire departments in the Eel River Valley are ramping up recruitment activities in preparation for the upcoming Eel River Valley Fire Academy as well as other training opportunities through the winter and spring months ahead.

”The skills that volunteer firefighters learn are numerous and can be useful not only on a fire/rescue scene but at home and at the work place as well,” Chief Winburn said.

Although there are age limits in most departments' Explorer programs allow for younger cadets. Most Explorer programs allow for ages 14 to 20. Most departments have a starting age limit of 18 years old, require physical exams and background checks.

”While volunteers in most departments are predominantly male, we all support women in the fire service and have seen many great success stories,” Winburn said. “In fact, the second highest score in the history the Eel River Valley Fire Academy belongs to a female firefighter. Maybe you are a previous member of a fire department and have moved to a new community; I assure you your services are welcome.”

Firefighters will usually be the first on scene. Whether it is a fire, accident, medical emergency, rescue or any sort of disaster when the fire whistle blows firefighters answer the call.

”If you have the desire to help others, maybe on the worst day of their lives, then volunteering as a firefighter in your community just might be the right thing for you,” Winburn said.

Contact your local department for more information. In the Eel River Valley you can call Scotia VFD at 764-4322, Rio Dell VFD at 764-3329, Ferndale VFD at 786-9909, Loleta VFD at 733-5407, Fortuna VFD at 725-5021, Carlotta VFD at 768-3861, and Bridgeville VFD at 777-3424.