By Bud Paine
Pinal Rural Fire Rescue
Special to Copper Area News
It seems that as each generation comes along volunteerism is slowly, but steadily, disappearing from our society. The idea of volunteering to help neighbors and friends dates back thousands of years but today is scarcely even considered to be of any value whatsoever by many . Or, it is seen as “a waste of time because it doesn’t do anything for me.”
We live in a cradle-to-grave mentality” world now where people just call 911 and someone comes without considering where those firefighters, EMTS and Paramedics, and rescuers come from. They show up in trucks with lights and sirens and take care of you. Who are they? They are your neighbors…
Over 70 percent of fire departments in America today still rely on volunteers to make their departments have enough staffing to protect the people they are responsible to serve. Some departments pay small stipends to their volunteers to encourage their involvement but the vast majority still pride themselves on true volunteers that give selflessly to their neighbors without reimbursement. You see for them its pride in being able to help their community.
A volunteer fire department is one of the hardest yet most challenging volunteer opportunities in which you could ever be involved. However, it takes time away from family to help neighbors or strangers…and most importantly…the ability to follow orders. The quasi-military structure serves a purpose in the fire service…it could save your life! Firefighting is one of the most dangerous occupations in America so because of that it is also a very strict environment. It is not a democratic society nor is it a debating club. If you ignore, or try to debate, a command, and you fail to follow it immediately…you could end up DEAD….end of story. It is not a “coddle me and hug me” environment. It is all about serving your community and neighbors with no expectations!
It takes compassion, commitment, denial of self and a deep desire to serve for the right reasons. It also takes hard work because the training is demanding and time-consuming yet this training is what will save your life. We at Pinal Rural Fire Rescue value our staff of committed volunteers but we need more! EMS has become one of the primary missions of the fire service and we are one of the few departments in the Copper Corridor that has Paramedic-level service so we have lots of opportunities for those that like the medical side of things.
Not everyone wants, or is physically able, to be a firefighter. However, there are many other jobs that you can fulfill…Driver/Pump Operator, Emergency Medical Responder or EMT, Community Educator, Fire Prevention, and the list goes on. It takes a LOT of volunteers offering a little bit of time away from their families to make it all work. What we value most are those volunteers that want to do what it takes to make the whole department serve those we protect. If you do not live around us then check with your local volunteer fire department. Bet they could use you in some way!
For volunteer opportunities with Pinal Rural Fire Rescue, you can contact us at 520-465-5300 or just stop by the station on Wednesday nights at 6:00 p.m. when we have training. It is located at 15062 Highway 77 in Mammoth.