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Falcon Fire Protection District relies on volunteers

When someone’s house or property is on fire, the firefighter responding to the call may not be getting a paycheck for his time and service. More than 60 percent of the Falcon Fire Protection District firefighters volunteer their services.”The volunteers save the taxpayers of the FFPD $1,000,000 a year,” said FFPD Fire Chief Trent Harwig. “They (volunteers) are priceless. We couldn’t do what we do without them.”Traditional volunteers are getting harder to find. Instead, many of the volunteers are firefighters trying to get field experience in order to move into paid positions, Harwig said. A rotating fire department can cause high turnover rates in the department, which increases costs related to training new volunteers, he said.Harwig said he understands that volunteer work for the FFPD is a strenuous time commitment. He said the volunteers routinely put in 30 to 50 hours each month. The New Falcon Herald interviewed three volunteer firefighters from the FFPD. Each had a different story to tell, but they all emphasized the intangible benefits of serving the community.Cory GaliciaAn 11-year volunteer veteran of the district, Galicia holds the rank of captain and also works as a supervisor for a drywall company. He credits the support from his wife and three children for making his service possible.”Sometimes we are heading out for a family activity and I get a call (from the department),” Galicia said. “They understand that I have to go.”His boss also is understanding and allows for time away from work when there is a major problem like the 85-acre wild land fire near Security in early August. Galicia also runs the Fire Service Exploring Program, a subsidiary of the Boy Scouts of America. The group is open to kids age 14 to 21 and provides an introduction to firefighting.He said the 24 to 30 hours a month volunteering for FFPD has its rewards. “The education and leadership training I get as a volunteer has helped me progress at my real job,” Galicia said. “The comradery with the other firefighters makes it even more rewarding.”Tom ReshaResha is retired military and currently works as a defense contractor. He began volunteering with the FFPD six years ago.”It’s a huge time commitment, but it’s worth every minute,” Resha said. “I’m one of those over-50 types who wanted to do something for the community. One thing we want to do (at FFPD) is bring on more and more folks with life experience.”Older firefighters are able to draw on their experience to help with everything from driving a big truck in traffic to handling the bad scenes, Resha said. “They also have management and leadership skills,” he added.Resha said his management skills have helped him in his volunteer service. He is a lieutenant and charged with overseeing Station No. 2 on Meridian Road and managing a crew of 10 volunteers.He said he has favorite times with the FFPD. “You always remember the bad calls,” Resha said. “But then there are the good calls like a cardiac arrest, and you get them back (revived) and on the helicopter.”He encourages anyone interested in volunteering to give him a call at 719-930-4494.Kevin JanesJanes began his fire service in February 2007. His training lasted through October 2007, with additional time spent to receive his emergency medical technician certification. Janes said the training taught him everything he needed to know to keep learning on the job.After 25 years in the military, Janes said he wanted to get involved in the community. “We’ve been gypsies in the Army; this is the longest time we’ve spent in one place. The service is great and I like the brotherhood.”His advice to potential volunteers is to be prepared to learn every day and to dedicate a good amount of time to train and be available to respond to calls. “Sometimes you’re just at the station and it’s not as glamorous as you think,” Janes said. “But it is very rewarding and satisfying.”Janes said residents are always grateful for assistance but they may take fire service for granted. “It’s really important that the community understand how much time is given,” he said. As the Falcon area grows and call-volume increases he encourages residents to support FFPD with adequate funding. “Heaven forbid there comes a time we can’t respond.”FFPD is always in need of new volunteers. Anyone interested in learning more can call the district at 719-495-4050.

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