Guest Editorial: Firefighters define dedicationThe residents of Lake County can be proud of the individuals that serve as volunteer firefighters and first responders.
By: Mark Schlangen, Two Harbors Fir Department Chief, Lake County News Chronicle
The residents of Lake County can be proud of the 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. This is truly the best demonstration of the commitment of a volunteer firefighter. To spend countless hours training for an event that may or may not happen while they are around is a testament of the dedication these individuals have for our communities.
The families of the volunteers are often the true “unsung heroes” as they have embraced a life that can be interrupted at a moment’s notice by a little black box known as a pager. It can go off on a holiday, birthday party, a dinner with the inlaws, and, of course, in the middle of the night. It is amazing how the family of a volunteer firefighter becomes an integral and important part of the department. Without the family support, a volunteer firefighter will have an uphill battle in an already difficult volunteer position.
Employers and business partners are also a big part of the effectiveness of a volunteer organization. Business is interrupted by the pager in the same way as family life is. A huge “thank-you” needs to go out to the employers and business partners that support the volunteers that need to leave to serve the community when the pager goes off. Some volunteers are self-employed, meaning their own business is not being attended to as they offer their assistance to someone in need. The ripple effect of an emergency calls reaches far into our community and on many levels.
The Lake County area is fortunate to have various volunteer organizations from the Lake County Rescue Squad to the volunteer fire departments. In addition, the area is served by an ambulance service based out of Two Harbors and Silver Bay. 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 is 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 seeking individuals that are interested in serving on the volunteer fire department. Interviews and testing will take place in February for a hiring pool that can be drawn upon as openings on the department occur.
Aside from the objective requirements to be on the fire department – such as being age18 or older and residing within eight minutes of the fire hall – applicants need to assess the subjective requirements, such as family 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 1st Avenue.