Volunteer firefighters to be feted by state, fire district

By Paul Suarez, Columbian web producer

Published:

 

Volunteer firefighters around the state are being recognized for their dedication and service this week as part of the state’s first Volunteer Firefighter Recognition Week.

Locally, volunteer firefighters with East County Fire & Rescue will be recognized at a breakfast later in the month, spokesman Rick Knapp said.

The agency, which is primarily staffed by volunteers, responded to 888 calls in 2011, up 190 from 2010 and about 46 percent more than 2007, district spokesman Rick Knapp said in a release.

“Since 1947, East County Fire & Rescue (formerly fire districts 1 and 9) has relied on 375 volunteers providing over 2,267 years of dedicated service to our community,” Knapp said.

East County Fire & Rescue serves an area that is a little less than 60 square miles surrounding Camas and Washougal. Firefighters have to truck water in to battle fires because there are no hydrants in the service area, Knapp said.

“Volunteers either get paid nothing or minor reimbursements for their time,” said district Chief Scott Koehler. “There are communities that rely solely on volunteer response. Ours relies heavily on volunteer response.”

According to National Fire Protection Association statistics, about 70 percent of firefighters in the United States are volunteers.

Washington volunteers now also have the option to buy a state-authorized volunteer firefighter license plate for personal vehicles.