Volunteer Firefighters Sought To Staff Stations

Placer County is seeking volunteer firefighters to help staff fire stations throughout the unincorporated areas of the county. Volunteers play a key role in providing firefighting and medical service to local residents. After passing the application process and completing a volunteer firefighter academy, volunteers are issued safety equipment and are able to respond to calls for service. In the unincorporated communities in the county, volunteers are needed at the following stations: Dry Creek, Paige, Sheridan, Thermolands, Fowler, Ophir, and Dutch Flat.

Depending on their qualifications and the need for volunteers at a particular station, volunteers may staff stations and fire apparatus. Qualified volunteers are issued personal protective equipment and a pager so they can respond to calls for emergency service from home or work as available. By law, volunteer firefighters are held to the same requirements for training and expectations of behavior as paid firefighters.

While the volunteers are typically not paid, they can be compensated for attending trainings and sometimes receive a stipend for responding to calls, depending on which agency they work for.

“Community volunteer firefighters have been integral to Placer County’s preparedness and response capabilities going back to before we became a county,” said Rui Cunha, Assistant Director of Emergency Services. “With reduced property tax revenues, which are the primary funding source for fire service, it has become very difficult to maintain current service levels. Community volunteers are more important today that they have been in the past. Volunteering can make the difference between keeping a fire station open or having to close it.”

Some volunteer firefighters will use the experience gained in serving as a volunteer as a stepping stone to paid, permanent employment in the fire services. Others will volunteer to serve their community. Regardless of the motivation, all volunteers must meet significant requirements and standards and attend required classes and trainings, obtain and retain necessary certificates, and meet physical requirements.

Volunteers can rise through the ranks by meeting additional standards and obtaining the necessary skills to become firefighters, engineers, paramedics, on up to captain. Volunteers can participate in trainings and drills so that they become qualified in:

Support firefighting;
Hazardous materials;
Technical rescue;
Emergency medical service (EMS); and
Emergency vehicle operation.

Difficult economic conditions continue to adversely affect many Placer County governmental functions. One of the more visible is firefighting agencies in rural, unincorporated Placer County. Because of this, Placer County is seeking additional firefighters to respond to calls. To encourage volunteer participation, local fire agencies regularly hold trainings at times that are conducive to attendance by volunteers, many of whom hold full-time employment in other fields. The volunteers must participate in a minimum number of trainings to maintain their active status. Volunteers may have a year-long probationary period.

Becoming a volunteer firefighter is open to anyone; however there are requirements for admission into the volunteer firefighter academy. All applicants must:

Be at least 18 years of age;
Be in good health;
Have a valid driver’s license;
Take an oath of confidentiality;
Complete a volunteer registration form;
Pass a medical exam prior to acceptance;
Pass annual medical record reviews;
Meet respiratory fitness testing standards;
Meet grooming standards;
Have a clean driving record; and
Pass a criminal background check.

For information on becoming a volunteer firefighter, please contact CAL FIRE/Placer County Fire, at 530-889-0111. The next academy is expected to be held in early 2013. The application process before anyone can be enrolled in an academy takes several months, so those interested in applying are encouraged to begin the process as soon as possible.