This is a problem in all of our front, back, side yards. There’s few that can say differently. Generally if they say it’s all good, they’re in some serious denial. Most volunteer fire companies as we know them are in serious trouble. Many reasons and excuses exist as to why it has become this way.

A good number of them are in danger of closing or becoming extinct. It’s truly comparable to endangered species. Problem with our type of endangered species is that there are not many protections or resources out there like one would see for endangered species such as animal /aquatic life, etc.

If a person has the heart, time, commitment and a good background, etc... then volunteering is something to consider. I’ve always maintained a motto of “not matter how much or how little one can positively contribute you are important and valuable to accomplishing the mission”. Reality is there are many openings. It’s not all about fighting fires.

Today there is so much to do and many avenues to travel. There is training that one should take. Without the training, well let’s sum it up as your family and community deserves the commitment to knowing what you are doing, knowing what’s expected in a job you plan to do. Heck one owes it to themselves to know what they’re doing. There’s time (education) required for most any life job or task in general. That’s life. This tends to tick people off, however common sense should be enough alone to convince one that it’s a necessary to train.

Think about this... you need to see a dentist... you expect the dentist to know what they are doing... it’s reasonable to expect that a dentist would have gone to school... then one day the dentist is out of the office and well you have an appointment... low and behold the stranger you are having work on your mouth just so happens to be a warm body to fill the chair... muttering and faking the way through... you realize the person truly is not a dentist and just a warm body to fill the seat. Would that be what was expected of a dentist? Certainly the thought of this would tend to upset you.

The same goes for the providing of Fire/Rescue/EMS and all of the side jobs that have been added over the years. You expect that the people who come to help are trained in their craft and not just a warm body. It’s been stated for many years that all of the certificates and paper in the world won’t solve a problem. That is true as one also has to demonstrate that they have an ability to do the job they trained to do. Book smart doesn’t cut it.

Providing services to the community is only one snippet of the things a volunteer fire company offers. Big problem exists in that the operation is much like a business and must be run as such. People are needed for many behind the scenes jobs.

The “volunteer Fire/Rescue/EMS” is generally not valued enough by Constituents or Elected Officials to provide reasonable funding. This is not a hit on anyone... simply it is reality. It is of course a valued service in a time of need... again reality... So we flip hamburgers, roll hotdogs, make some pizza, barbecue some chicken, beg and beg, on and on to attempt to raise funds to sustain an operation. Most run on 6 figure budgets. That’s a hefty chunk of change to make up when the allocation of funds from the governing bodies only provide maybe a donation or fire tax that maybe covers a small and insignificant portion of the budget. That’s not to say the contribution is not appreciated as every small bit helps. It’s simply that communities need to decide what’s important.

If the Fire/Rescue/EMS are the first to get cut or told to just figure it out and leave us alone ... just be ready at a moments notice to provide service... something is going to have to give.

We hear about how much we get through taxes as constituents pay very high taxes. It’s very accurate to say taxes are high. The issue is though... look at the taxes being assessed... most will find that most of the taxes being paid are going into the School Districts. It’s cold, hard, and proven that that is where the majority of the money goes. Even more cold, hard, and proven year after year is that somehow some way we will have to absorb tax increases compliments of the School Districts.

Fire Companies in general need to decide what’s important. What can they do good, what can they specialize in. The days of being jacks of all trades are over. Fire companies as a whole need to be better stewards of their funds. Cooperation with neighboring organizations is a must. Cooperation and information exchange between constituents and elected officials is a must.

Think about all that. It’s not meant to be a deterrent or slap on anyone. It’s reality.... a bit of education of what is in the path of becoming involved. It’s a challenge. It takes special people who are committed and at times thick skinned to accept the challenge. It is rewarding. It can also be frustrating. Good and bad.

So really consider volunteering. Stop by your local volunteer fire company and see what’s needed.

Jeffrey Tempesco, Hepburn Twp.