Eastside Fire & Rescue seeks volunteer firefighters
January 24, 2012
By Sebastian Moraga
Eastside Fire & Rescue has started a new push to get volunteers to join its ranks.
“Being a volunteer firefighter is a big commitment,” EFR chief and former volunteer firefighter Lee Soptich said in a press release. “But the rewards for helping your community and your neighbors are even greater.”
The communities for which EFR seeks volunteers are Issaquah, Maple Hills, May Valley, Tiger Mountain, Preston, North Bend, Sammamish, Lake Joy, Carnation and Wilderness Rim.
Applicants must be at least 18 years old, drug-free and reside within five driving miles of the nearest EFR fire stations.
They must have a valid Washington driver’s license, a good driving record and be fit for purpose.
David Misakian, a volunteer program coordinator at EFR, said volunteer firefighters need to be able to carry 100 pounds for short distances and be in good shape aerobically.
A typical volunteer firefighter stays with EFR for two to three years, Misakian wrote.
Soptich was a volunteer for 11 of his 37 years as a firefighter, the press release added.
Volunteer firefighters receive all of the equipment and training needed for the job.
EFR will cover the costs of volunteers’ initial training and equipment and their participation in disability and pension programs, Misakian wrote.
Misakian highlighted two things as rewards of being a volunteer firefighter.
“Two feelings jump out at me,” he wrote in an email. “The satisfaction of a job well done that made a positive impact in someone’s life, because people typically do not call us when they are having a good day, and the camaraderie of working and training as a team.”
Duties between volunteer and career firefighters differ, he wrote.
Both respond to emergency and nonemergency calls, such as fires, medical calls and vehicle accidents. Both groups help with station and equipment maintenance and both participate in community service and public education functions.
Career firefighters, though, have more advanced training and will respond to hazardous-material calls, swift-water rescues and technical rescues. Career firefighters will lead major events and have additional responsibilities with fire inspections.
“What I tell people is that being a volunteer firefighter does not guarantee you a career position with our agency or any other agency, but being a volunteer improves your odds of getting the job,” Misakian wrote.
He added that EFR expects to complete the testing and vetting stages of recruits by May 1 and complete internal training by Aug. 1.
A second recruitment drive may happen later this year.
“We welcome folks who are curious to reach out to the crews at one of our stations,” he wrote, “to ask and see what volunteers do.”
EFR provides fire suppression, medical aid and rescue services to nearly 120,000 citizens throughout northeast King County.
People interested in becoming volunteer firefighters should go to www.eastsidevolunteer.org to learn more or download an application. Applications are due by 5 p.m. Feb. 1 at EFR headquarters, 175 Newport Way N.W., Issaquah.