Recruiting more firefighters for volunteer fire departments is a problem, even here in the metro, but one department is making sure the word gets out.
You may have seen an ad on TV, a call for help by the Ralston Volunteer Fire Department. Chief Joe Eischeid says they're looking for a few good men and women.
"Years ago, you actually had to live within the city limits of Ralston to be on the fire department. You had to be able to respond from your house and it got harder to get volunteers these days so we had to open our enrollment up where now you can live anywhere."
Ralston Assistant Fire Chief Carrie Wagner said the ads have been successful. "Some people are seeing it on TV or hearing about it because a family member or friend saw it so it is out reaching people. Some people just don't know that there is a need until they actually see that."
That's how two-year veteran Andrea Neukirch became a volunteer firefighter. "I didn't know before then that they were volunteer so after that commercial it kind of opened up a whole new opportunity for me."
Volunteers put in 40 hours a month at the fire station.
"You've really got to have the heart for it," Andrea said. "You're leaving family functions or work or school or whatever you're doing. You just drop it and going on calls so you really got to be committed to it. It's a volunteer department, but the fires are the same, the rescue calls are the same as in a paid department, so you've got to be committed to helping people."
And while there's no pay, Andrea believes there are other benefits. "The gratitude you get from other people. They're like oh, that's so awesome you guys do that for free, you give up your own time just to help others. It makes you feel better, I think, knowing you're doing it because you want to."
So far, the Ralston Volunteer Fire Department has about 30 interested applicants. They currently have a staff of about 45 and would like to add 15 to 20 more by the end of February.
A grant paid for the ad.
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