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Volunteer squad key to community

The Fire Chief was in yesterday to talk about the year-end report regarding fire calls, a topic that is prefaced in a story in this week's paper.

After he left and I started compiling the information, it really made me think.

Fire protection is a service that so many of us take for granted, without worry or concern.

As most of you should know, our Fire Department is comprised of volunteers who give of their time, without reimbursement. If we didn't have these volunteers willing to respond, the alternative would obviously be a paid staff of firefighters.

Our community is extremely fortunate to have the commitment of these 41 individuals who are ready to give up what they are doing at literally a moments notice to respond to situations that occur any time of the day or night, good weather or bad, no matter what the situation or circumstance.

And for each pager alarm that sounds indicating an incident, the process just doesn't involve a few of these people. If the call is determined to be a major event, i.e. a structural fire, the whole crew is notified and responds.

For the smaller events, crews are divided into two segments, with each on call every other month.

Several of the volunteers live within a very few blocks of the Fire Department, lending to a more rapid time in getting trucks out on the street, in turn, resulting in a faster response time that goes a long way in lessening the severity of emergency situations.

You'd also surmise that given the intensity and unpredictability of their commitment, that the service time of these volunteers would be short-lived, but such is not the case.

The group not only fights fires together but on the most part has developed a special bond of friendship, making for an even firmer commitment to serving the community in which they not only live, but work as well.

Actually, there are some pretty amazing statistics when you look at the dedication and longevity of the group. One has 29 years of service, two - 24 years; one - 22 years; four - 19 years; five - 15 years; one - 13 years; two - 12 years; one - 11 years; five - 8 years; three - six years; eight - five years; five - three years; and six - one year.

The Chief summed it up best when he said the local volunteer squad is key to making the whole organization work, describing them as among the best firefighters you'd find anywhere.

They deserve all the praise there is out there for their pivotal, unflinching role in safeguarding our community.

The next time you hear the siren of an approaching fire truck, don't take the action for granted. Instead give some serious thought to just exactly who the individuals are inside and the sacrifice they play in making our community a safer place in which to live.