Back in the fall of 1992, a friend of mine who was with Devola Volunteer Fire Co., asked me if I would be interested in joining the department. I said I never really gave it much thought before, but I might be interested. Twenty years later I have seen things I never thought I would experience, been on calls that have stayed with me since the day they occurred, been on multiple fires, car accidents, squad calls, downed power lines and so on. I have held just about every position in the department, some more than once. I have seen good times and, most certainly, bad ones. And through it all I knew I was helping my community. I was protecting my neighbors, their homes, my family and theirs as well.
To the average citizen a volunteer firefighter or EMT is just a "wannabe." But to the thousands of people we all help everyday in this country, we are a lifesaver, caregiver, protector or a hero. Volunteers account for 80 percent of the nation's fire service. If we didn't volunteer who would save your house when it catches fire or come cut your daughter out of her car when she crashes along the highway.
Volunteers save more than lives and property. We also save money for the communities in which we serve. To pay a paid department costs a community millions of dollars where a volunteer service can run at a fraction of that. Your local volunteer fire department needs your help now. We need EMTs and firefighters. We need tradesmen and women who work with their hands every day. We need bankers and accountants, teachers, writers, mechanics, welders, plumbers, electricians, computer repair techs, gardeners and cooks. We need anyone who has the skill to do something, anything, around the station. Just because you don't want to be a firefighter or EMT doesn't mean you can't serve your community and your fire department.
I ask that everyone who reads this go to their local volunteer fire department and ask what they can do to help out. I am a volunteer firefighter. I am proud to say that and always will be.
John J. Bichard