Westwood Fire Department is looking for volunteer firefighters
|Westwood Fire Chief Forest Duerksen is looking for community members to join the volunteer fire department. Photo by Susan Cort Johnson|
Sept. 14, 2013 — The Westwood Fire Department is in need of volunteer firefighters. The roster is currently at nine with two on medical leave. According to Fire Chief Forest Duerksen the department would like to have 15 to 20 trained volunteer firefighters.
Qualified volunteers are people older than 18 who have lived in Westwood or Pinetown for at least one year. They can be male or female but must pass a physical and background check. Also volunteers must attend the training sessions from 6:30 to 8:30 or 9 p.m. Wednesday evenings. The fire drills are important for safety and liability issues.
Duerksen said older residents need not automatically determine they are not strong enough to serve because there are many jobs that need to be done on a fire, such as watching the pump panel or overseeing a rehab area that offers safety precautions for firefighters.
Volunteering is a good way to help the community, said Duerksen. Currently, Westwood residents serving as volunteers include Steve Smith, Davie House, Aaron Baker, Tom Good, Randy Buchanan, Chris Graham, Kelly Kennemore, Luke Kinsey and Cory Rickert. The department has two teens in its Explorer program that include Cody Kennemore and Jonathan Schemelzer. They can respond to fires but their participation is limited. Explorers do attend drills.
To remain part of the volunteer fire department volunteers must attend three-quarters of the emergency calls and drills. Duerksen said it is important to have an adequate crew when responding to a fire because there are many tasks to do at the scene. For example, if two firefighters enter a burning structure there must be a two-member rescue intervention team outside. A team of two is also needed on the roof to work on ventilation in the initial attack.
Westwood receives mutual aid from the Clear Creek Fire Department and CalFire. If additional help is needed, assistance is asked for from the fire departments at Hamilton Branch and Lake Almanor Peninsula.
Applications for volunteering as a Westwood firefighter are available at the Westwood Fire Station on Third Street. Applicants must attend four consecutive drills before they can be considered as a volunteer. There is a six-month probationary period once accepted to make sure the volunteer position is a good fit for everyone involved. Duerksen said people may find the job is not what they expected and they cannot do it.
However, volunteers are part of an organization that serves the community and those who participate find there is camaraderie among members, said Duerksen.
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