Area ‘opportunity’ awaits

By DON GORKA

In Chautauqua County and across the United States, volunteer fire departments need your help. In Chautauqua County alone the volunteer firemen are dwindling in all cities, towns and villages.

If you ask yourself, why should I become a volunteer fireman, what is in it for me? The benefits of being a volunteer firefighter are many. There is the technical training and real life skills you’ll receive. Also, the immense sense of pride and satisfaction that comes from giving back to your community as a volunteer fireman. Learn about fire safety and also that no two emergencies are the same. And maybe the most important, the camaraderie, the feeling of family and the lasting relationships you will build belonging to a team that shares one overriding goal: to be of service to others in their time of need.

Not only does being a volunteer fireman give you the opportunity to serve your community in an exciting and fulfilling way, there are also a variety of incentives available from the government as well as your local fire company you join.

Becoming a volunteer firefighter takes training and is pretty time consuming. Rigorous classroom training and on-site training is required. It will be tough if you work or go to school. But, if you are dedicated you can do it. Becoming a volunteer firefighter is a very rewarding and valuable way to serve your community.

It takes dedication and many hours of training to become a volunteer. If you are willing to put the effort and time, there is a department ready for you to serve. People who become volunteer firefighters spend time training so that they can respond to any number of emergency situations such as fires, emergency medical incidents, acts of terrorism calls, natural disasters, hazardous material spills, water rescues and any other type of emergencies. Availability and commitment without pay is part of the life of a volunteer fireman. Fire fighting is a dangerous business and not just anyone is allowed on the scene of a fire or medical emergency.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, 71 percent of firefighters in the United States are volunteers.

It is fact that the number of volunteer firefighters is declining, and the average age of people involved in this activity is increasing. This combination means that more opportunities will open for people interested in fire fighting work. The volunteer firefighter becomes a volunteer fire fighter not only because they help people in need, but because it is also satisfying to teach others how to do their job and share experiences. Firefighting is not solely a male domain anymore. Women also can become volunteer firefighters. There are many females in the volunteer fire fighting departments across the United States. Anyone, male or female who would like to help your community by joining the local fire department, should stop by your local fire station and see how to become a firefighter.

The city of Dunkirk at one time had a large number of volunteer firemen. Today there are the paid firefighters in the city and fewer than 20 volunteer firemen in Dunkirk that actually fight fires and respond to medical emergencies. The city of Dunkirk and all towns and villages of Chautauqua County are all undermanned in the fire service.

The fire service in Chautauqua County needs men and women to join their ranks desperately. Some volunteer fire departments may require a background check and proof of citizenship before an application is complete. Visit with a volunteer firefighter to learn more about the job you will be doing as a fire fighter. All firefighters’ main objectives are, and always have been: the extinguishment of fire, protection of life and property, and promote the social fellowship between its members.

Every volunteer fire department in Chautauqua County needs more dedicated firefighters and medical responders than they have now. The volunteer fire companies cannot do an adequate operation without an adequate number of volunteers.

New volunteers are needed today, to fill the empty boots, coats and helmets of the fire service. So, if you love and enjoy your community that you live in and want to serve in a capacity that will really help – join a volunteer fire department near you today.

Don Gorka is a Dunkirk resident.