Volunteers key for RFDPublished 6:00am Wednesday, October 10, 2012
Training is an important part of many professions, but for firefighters, training is absolutely essential to staying safe on the job.
This past week, volunteer firefighters with the Russellville Fire Department underwent training that will help them be prepared if they are called out to assist with a fire in the area.
Russellville Fire Chief Joe Mansell said the RFD has 10 volunteer firemen who stand ready to suit up and help whenever they are needed.
“We are still a small department compared to some other departments, so we really do depend on these guys who give of their time to be a volunteer firefighter,” Mansell said.
“They provide essential services for us, especially when we have a large fire in progress. When that happens we need every available firefighter to pitch in, and having 10 extra sets of hands is a big help to us.”
Dale Morris has worked with different fire departments for the past 15 years and has spent the last three years as a volunteer firefighter for Russellville.
Having a full-time job and doing firefighting on a volunteer basis may seem like a lot to take on, but Morris said he’s enjoyed every minute.
“I like being a volunteer fireman because it gives me a chance to give back to the community and to help other people, which I love to do,” Morris said.
“I also love actually fighting the fires and knowing I’m doing something that makes a difference.”
Monday evening, the volunteer firefighters met for their monthly training session at an abandoned house inside the city limits that has been donated to the fire department for their use in training exercises.
Mansell said the volunteers went through training that taught them effective search and rescue techniques, how to safely exit a burning home if they were to become disoriented inside, and how to drive and operate the fire trucks.
Several other Russellville firefighters assisted with the training and tried to make it as real as possible.
“One of the biggest things we’ll need the volunteer firefighters to help us with is water transport,” Capt. Aubrey Harris said. “That’s one of the reasons we focus on them being able to drive the fire engines so we know they can get to a fire hydrant and get the hose hooked up to be able to get more water for us if and when we need it.”
Mansell said the search and rescue exercise and the exercise teaching them how to get out of a burning structure are important as well.
“Our number one goal when we get to a fire scene is to make sure every person who might have been inside the home or the building is gotten out,” Mansell said. “If someone is still inside, we have to be able to find that person and get them out to safety.
“We might need the help of one of our volunteers in doing this, so they need to know what to do.”
Mansell said the volunteers also learned how to follow a hose and, by feeling the hook-ups on the hose, tell which direction they are heading so they will be able to reach the exit instead of going further and further inside a burning structure.
“It’s easy to get disoriented and turned around when you’re inside a home with heavy smoke, flames and extreme heat,” Mansell said. “If one of our guys is in there and can’t find his way out like he normally would, then we want him to have the knowledge to help him get out safely.”
Mansell said they try to train with the volunteers at least once a month to keep the information fresh on their minds.
“Sometimes it’s hard to get everyone together because they all have other jobs they go to and other things to do, so we have to work around their schedules,” he said.
“But we make sure they understand it’s important to attend this training and not let the knowledge fade away. You never know when something you learn in one of these trainings will save your life or someone else’s.”
To be eligible to be a volunteer firefighter with the Russellville Fire Department, a person must be 18 years old or older.
For other qualifications or to learn more about the volunteer firefighter program, call 256-332-8761.