Recruiting More Volunteer Firefighters | VideoMichelle San Miguel | 7/27/2012
It`s been a busier than usual fire season. With a hotter than normal summer, firefighters have been been dealt quite the fuel load.
"Keep our fingers crossed but if it stays like this it`s gonna get real, hopefully not bad but I can see it`s gonna get active. We know it`s coming," said Mandan Rural Fire Department Chief Lynn Gustin.
They`re plenty busy fighting fires but volunteers with the Mandan Rural Fire Department also have to go through training sessions every other week. Here they`re working to extinguish a controlled fire inside this home.
The department has about 30 volunteers but Chief Gustin says he`d like another 10. Some days he has to send out multiple pages to get enough responders to a call.
"We got kind of a gap in between 30 and 40 year olds that`s hard to fill and you hear that all over the state and all over the country. You got your older guys that got more time but they`re getting, they get tired some days too."
In 2005, the department started a junior firefighter program for 16 and 17 year-olds. It`s a way to get teens interested in joining the program when they turn 18.
"I joined just to kind of serve my community a little bit. I was involved with Boy Scouts when I was younger. It just kind of seemed like the next step," said firefighter Jared Hopkins.
"It`s about saving other people and that`s why i`m in it," said junior firefighter David Payne.
For every call and training session volunteers attend, they get a stipend of $20. Gustin recently increased that number, but it`s still barely anything considering they get paid the same whether they`re out on a call for an hour, or 11, which did recently happen.
Of course, they don`t do it for the money.
"It`s a problem all over the country in a lot of places because it takes a lot of time and commitment to put into these fire departments."
Gustin hopes more people will be up for the challenge.
The Mandan Rural Fire Department is holding an open house on Saturday, September 8 at 1:00 at the fire station.