A volunteer firefighter is one who is not a career firefighter. Apparently in some places, they may even be paid. Not here. In our area, we depend on volunteers. In the city, and some of the larger towns, there are paid departments. But, here in the northwestern corner of Pennsylvania, there are a lot of small, rural towns. Places that can’t afford to pay a department.
As I mentioned in my theme reveal post, my husband is a volunteer firefighter. He’s also the Chief Safety Officer for our department, is certified at Firefighter I, and has many other certifications. He’s one of the few in our department who is also a certified rescue diver. He’s done a lot of training, aside from the twice a month drills at the department. A lot of weekends of him gone most of the day. Dinners where the pager goes off, and he’s up and gone. Every Wednesday night with him gone for either a meeting or drill night. And now he’s started helping out with the department’s Explorer program, which means Tuesday nights with him gone as well.
Unfortunately, recently there’s been a volunteer slump. We have an awards banquet each Spring. And the Chief always has the firefighters stand by years of service. This past year, there were just a few standing for the 5-10 years and even less in the 0-5 year group. Less and less join up each year. This is becoming more of a problem as the older firefighters step back or down. Like I said, we depend on these volunteers around here. Without them, a lot more buildings would burn to the ground.
I know I’ve mentioned my Flames series a few times through this month. That one is based on a paid department set in a small fictional city in our corner of the state. But, while sitting at this year’s awards banquet, I got the sudden idea that I wanted to write something that focused more on these volunteers. At the time I was just starting to plot out a different story, so I let that simmer in my mind for a couple weeks. Once I finished plotting the other one(a western, actually), I had a few ideas for this new series. Or really, a spin-off from the Flames series. In fact, the first story will star Jace Hunter, Nolan Hunter’s little brother. Right now, it’s going to focus on this family, as they are just about all involved in the volunteer department. I’m really excited to get this one started, but I have to finish Nolan’s first, as the events in Jace’s story kind of springboard off what happens during Nolan’s.