Volunteer firefighters are there for us

Their commitment to protect the public is just as strong as that of professional firefighters

Imagine working 40 hours a week or more, then spending dozens more hours training to run the pump on a fire truck.

Or consider raising a family, taking kids to soccer practice, going to church and then getting up at 3 a.m. to respond to a horrible car crash.

All that sounds like a staggering burden.

But it is the typical life of an Iowa volunteer firefighter.

Volunteer firefighters are a unique and dedicated bunch who live a full life doing everything that their neighbors do at work and with their families, but then spend more time risking their lives to protect their communities.

Today’s volunteer firefighters are unpaid professionals. And while they don’t respond to as many fires or emergencies as their paid colleagues in bigger cities, every call they respond to is just as dangerous as those faced by the professional firefighters in places like New York City and Los Angeles.

In Iowa there are 600 to 700 fie departments, and just 40 them are paid, career departments.

A volunteer firefighter in Iowa must complete 60 hours of initial training and 24 hours of training every year after that. To earn Firefighter I certification, they must complete 120 hours of training. And to become an emergency medical technician requires 120 hours of training.

The need for volunteer firefighters in our area was clearly demonstrated on Sunday.

A massive blaze ravaged the K.C. Nielsen Ltd. John Deere dealership in Manson. That blaze was reported at about 3:37 p.m. Sunday and flames were still burning in parts of the rubble Monday.

Volunteer firefighters from 11 communities — Manson, Lohrville, Rockwell City, Fonda, Lake City, Palmer, Pomeroy, Knoke, Jolley, Knierim and Lytton — responded.

Later on Sunday, a fire erupted in a golf cart shed at Briggs Woods Golf Course. Two fire departments, Kamrar and Webster City, responded to that blaze. Kamrar is an all volunteer unit. Webster City has a paid fire chief and three paid captains, but the majority of its firefighters are volunteers.

Volunteer fire departments everywhere are always looking for more help, so we encourage community-minded people to consider joining.

Volunteer firefighters are special people, and we can’t say enough to thank them.

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