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THFD looks for new volunteers

From Mark Schlangen, chief

Two Harbors Volunteer Fire Department

The residents of Lake County are fortunate to have individuals that serve as volunteer firefighters and first responders. When an emergency arises, it is a small group of dedicated individuals that respond. Regardless of how many emergency calls there are, these individuals consistently train and keep their skills sharp.

Even with great training, emergency services are only as strong as the ability of the volunteers to respond. This is a factor that sets volunteer emergency personnel apart from other organizations. Those that have had ties to volunteer emergency services know all too well how this can affect personal lives.

The impact on providing a volunteer emergency service goes far beyond the individual. To be an effective volunteer, the member needs to have an extremely supportive and understanding family. Family members are always impacted when the responder leaves for an emergency call. Someone is always left to keep the family going and this can be a very difficult position. Employers are also impacted when supporting a volunteer responder. Lake is fortunate to have many great employers that recognize the value of releasing a volunteer from work to respond to an emergency. Some of our responders are self-employed, when they respond they know that they are effectively closing their business while on a call. Great sacrifices are made by all to provide emergency services. The impact of an emergency is huge and has a ripple effect on many people beyond the actual responder.

A personal commitment of service above self is the main tenant needed for someone to be able to serve with a volunteer emergency service. Knowing that personal wants and needs will become a lower priority than responding to a page is a commitment that should not be taken lightly. The commitment and support of the family is also important for the long-term success of the individual making the decision to serve. Lastly, the commitment of the business community is an integral part of providing our emergency services. Without the support of our business partners most daytime calls would not see enough personnel responding.

At this point, the thought of joining a volunteer emergency service might not sound very appealing. Before it is discounted as something that “someone else should do”, look at it again. When the pager does go off due to an emergency – somebody is having a bad day and you have the opportunity to try to make it better. The person requesting the assistance doesn’t have a choice as to who will come to their aid. They dialed “911” and will get the local emergency responders. This is a huge responsibility and with it can come great rewards. To leave this responsibility for “someone else” to do is the easiest option, but this would leave us without a functional response to an emergency. It is this service above self that drives most volunteers.

The area is fortunate to have various emergency volunteer organizations. The Lake County Rescue Squad serves under the Sheriff’s Office, and each city has a volunteer fire department. In addition, the area is served by an ambulance service based out of and . All of the organizations work together with the common goal of providing the best service possible with the resources available. The most important resource available to these organizations are the dedicated volunteers that not only respond to the emergency calls, but continually train for a wide variety of events.

One of these organizations, the Two Harbors Fire Department, is actively seeking individuals that are interested in serving on the volunteer fire department. Interviews and testing will take place on March 19 for a hiring pool that can be drawn upon as openings on the department occur. There are a few objective requirements to be on the fire department such as being 18 and residing within 8 minutes from the fire hall. The subjective requirements are ones the applicant needs to assess such as: family support, employer support and personal commitment. The latter is much more difficult to assess, but with good communication it will become apparent if the fire department is a viable option.

Being a volunteer firefighter is not for everyone, those that are willing to serve in this capacity should be commended. Of equal importance to recognize, are the people supporting our volunteers such as the families, friends, and businesses. If you are interested in serving as a volunteer firefighter for the Two Harbors Fire Department, please fill out an application at City Hall 522 First Ave., before March 18.