STEVENSVILLE - Firefighters serve many different purposes for communities.
Smaller communities in Montana are all volunteer firefighter based, and some communities like Stevensville need more volunteers than what they currently have.
“The volunteer firemen, firefighter, fire gal is huge, it’s kind of the glue, the connecting pieces to the community,” explained Stevensville Fire Chief Jeff Motley. “I mean they live in the community, they're members of the community and then they turn around and they serve their other community members.”
Motley says for smaller communities that may not have as many resources as larger ones, having volunteers is critical.
“It is a need that needs to be met. Especially in today’s day and age when finances and dollars are tight and all that. Having a paid staff is really out of the picture for small communities. So, the volunteer is what steps up and fills that gap.”
The town of Stevensville needs about 56 volunteers, but they currently have 13.
Most of the volunteers in Stevensville are either self-employed or work outside of the community, making the working hours very tight for the fire department.
"The more staff we have it shares the load, the more hands the more help, the easier and quicker all those things happen,” Motley said. “It’s the same with any volunteer organization.
Currently, all of the fire departments in Ravalli County are manned by volunteers.
For emergency calls, the fire department needs anywhere between six and 30 people.
"Typically for a CPR in progress call, we feel we need at least six fire individuals on scene. That’s almost half of our department,” Motley told MTN News. “For a structure fire, we need to have anywhere from two crews -- a crew is four, so we need at least eight to 12. Typically, a fully involved structure, we’re looking for 30 people.”
There are several ways that people can volunteer to help out the local fire department.
“We take support volunteers that do support work — that help us out doing the laundry, washing, turning out gear, cleaning the hall, doing paperwork, doing video work for us,” Motley noted.
The Stevensville Fire Department offers certification training, which takes about four weekends. Training to become a volunteer firefighter takes about 100 hours.
Visit https://www.townofstevensville.com/fire to learn more about the Stevensville Fire Department and how to volunteer.