Wanted: few good men and women

Some enjoy it for the adrenaline rush, while others enjoy doing something to help the community.

Regardless of the reason, The Green River Volunteer Fire Department has always attracted gung-ho, community-minded people into its ranks. Currently, they’re seeking a couple more. The department is accepting applications from residents interested in joining the volunteer department and plans to host a basic level firefighter class in February or March.

For Assistant Fire Chief Mike Liberty, he initially took the course because he thought it would help him with his job at OCI as a member of its surface rescue team.

“I was taking the class for the job I used to have,” Liberty said.

After completing the course, Liberty said a few positions within the volunteer department opened up and he was asked to join the department. After checking with his family, he decided to join up June 1997. Initially starting as a volunteer, he was promoted to a lieutenant’s role in 2004 and was hired as as the department’s assistant fire chief when Mike Kennedy was promoted to head the department in 2008.

For Liberty, being a member of the fire department has been a rewarding experience and the opportunity to work with a group of great people.

“People call because their life got turned upside down ... and you can help bring some order to back into their lives,” he said.

As many local firefighters will attest, a lot of time is required to be volunteer in Green River. The initial Firefighter I course runs one night a week for 16 weeks. Those making it through the course have the opportunity to be hired as volunteer firefighters after the department looks at the number of positions open. Those passing a pre-employment background check and physical will be hired as a probationary firefighter, tasked with meeting other requirements such as taking and passing the Firefigher I test, learning practical skills and acquiring a Class B driver’s license. On top of that, they also are required to attend training classes hosted on the first and third Thursdays of each month and respond to service calls.

On Average, Liberty said firefighters have more than 200 hours of training each year. Some hours, such as visits to schools during fire prevention week, also count as training hours because volunteers are paid on a per-call basis. Despite the work and time involved in being a member of the department, the department, on average, has 18 volunteers respond to emergency calls. Members of the fire department also tend to serve 11 years in the department, more than double the national average of three to five years of service.

“A lot of hours are put in by these guys,” Liberty said. “(Applicants) need to be dedicated and committed when they come.”


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