Capital City Fire and Rescue is looking to bolster its volunteer firefighter ranks with a big push to register people for upcoming training programs.
Division Chief Ed Quinto says all CCFR volunteers start by going through 24- to 40 hours of scene-support training to learn how to organize equipment and personnel at an emergency.
“The scene support program kind of gets people started to get their feet wet, basically,” says Quinto. “They get to do all the outside support tasks that does not involve actually putting the fire out or actually being in what I call the hot zone.”
CCFR offers scene support training about four times a year, and Quinto says applications can be turned in anytime. The big push for volunteers this month is because November 9th is the deadline to apply for Firefighter One training, which starts in January and involves more than 280 hours of class and on-scene work.
Quinto says prospective volunteers should be mentally and physically capable of doing the job.
“Being a firefighter is hard work, and so is a scene support person,” Quinto says. “You’ll be lifting some heavy equipment. Chainsaws, fire hoses, ladders, some of those things are pretty heavy, so you want to be able lift at least 50, 60 pounds of weight. You’ll be in a changing environment. You might be out there at 2 o’ clock in the morning and its blowing 40 and it’s raining. You have to be able to handle those situations.”
But Quinto – who started as a CCFR volunteer more than 30 years ago before working his way into a paid position – says it’s a rewarding way to give back to the community.
“We only have about 36 career staff and only about 10 of them are on duty a day between two stations,” Quinto says. “So if we have a big fire or a big event that occurs, we rely on our volunteers to provide the manpower.”
Quinto says he’s noticed a decline in the department’s volunteer ranks in recent years, which he attributes to people leading busier lives. But he says even when volunteer numbers were higher, CCFR could always use a couple more men and women to lend a hand.