More volunteer firefighters who live in or near Eatonville are needed for the town’s fire department.
That close-in address, the right age (18 and up) and good health are what prospective volunteers need to be enlisted “in a very important community service,” said fire chief Bob Hudpseth..
The department is hoping a new recruitment drive will provide volunteers to assist the on-duty crew on fires and emergency medical services. Without more volunteers, “there is no cushion of additional personnel when we have multiple calls,” Hudspeth said. In the case of fires, “we currently use all of our personnel on the first engine out,” leaving only in-town volunteers available to man the second engine for backup support, the chief explained.
Most of the approximately 20 volunteers currently with the department live well outside the town, which can create logistical problems when they’re needed in emergencies. And there are plenty of those. In 2012, the department answered 662 calls; 90 percent were medical emergencies.
After they’re trained, volunteer firefighters can handle all types of fires – homes, commercial structures and wildland. They can also receive training to work as emergency medical technicians, which allows them to drive the aid units for firefighter-paramedics during their shift work.
The time commitment is three 12-hour shifts per month, either on weeknights or weekends, plus two training sessions per month on Tuesday nights or during the day on Saturdays. Volunteers are paid a stipend of about $32 per shift, about $8 for each call they respond to from home, and $50 dollars for driving an aid car that transports a patient.
Hudspeth said the rewards for volunteer firefighting are more than monetary.
“This type of volunteer work isn’t for everybody,” he said, “but for those who can meet the challenges, it can be a very rewarding path that men and women have been following in Eatonville since 1933,” the year that an eight-man volunteer department was formed.
Eatonville today has four full-time firefighter-paramedics, the chief and an assistant chief who are supplemented with volunteers to man two advanced life support aid units, a backup aid unit and two fire trucks. In addition to the town, the department provides mutual aid for Fire Districts 23 and 17 and Mount Rainier National Park.