Ralston Volunteer Fire Dept seeks volunteer firefighters
RALSTON, Neb. (WOWT) - Volunteer fire stations continue to deal with the effects of the pandemic, changing operations — and training — in an effort to stay staffed.
“We brought on a class in June or July which was in the middle of the pandemic. We did all of the interviews via Zoom,” said Kevin Eischeid, Ralston Fire Department chief.
He said Zoom interviews were just one of the several adjustments the department made during the pandemic.
“We’re kind of used to you know hanging around the station you know just laughing and talking with each other. Now you have to wear masks and different things like that,” volunteer firefighter Tradell Berry said.
Meetings and even some EMS training were also moved to the virtual world.
“Normally we would do a classroom setting. It’s usually a two-hour class. So, we would do a classroom setting for the first hour, and the second hour is sort of a hands-on type thing,” Eischeid said.
However, he said, there’s only so much training that can be held online. Some sessions are still held in person, with social distancing in mind.
“If we don’t train, they’re going to lose those skills. So, it’s very important to train even through this pandemic,” Eischeid said.
While COVID-19 affected the way the fire department operates, it also has an impact on the number of volunteer firefighters.
“A lot of people have lost their jobs during this pandemic. Volunteering is a second job in itself, so trying to get people to volunteer is real hard during this time,” the Fire Chief said.
Eischeid said the number of applicants was lower, especially at the beginning of the pandemic, where only 17 out of 40 applicants finished the application process.
“Normally we like to see us get around 50 to 60 applications,” he added.
As the department slowly tries to move back to normal, Eischeid said he hopes more people join the team. He said volunteer firefighters are always needed.
“If you’re interested and you want to give back and you want to do any sort of service or the fire service is something you want to attempt and try, definitely apply. And you won’t regret it.,” Berry added.
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