Everybody's job

Oct 10, 2012 By Steven R. Peck

In a significant way, we are all volunteer firefighters

Fremont County doesn't have professional fire departments. With the exception of a small handful of trainers and administrators, the ranks and files of our fire departments are filled by volunteers.

And, in a significant way, we are all volunteer firefighters.

Riverton Volunteer Fire Department Chief Ralph Estell said as much in Sunday's Ranger. Speaking to reporter Katie Roenigk in advance of National Fire Prevention Week observances locally, Estell talked about the widespread fire danger in Fremont County this year and how citizens responded to it.

"We were expecting a lot more grass and wildland fires," said Chief Estell, who works for the National Weather Service when he's not speeding to the scene of a fire. "But pretty much everybody has been pretty well safe. ... Which is a good thing. (Prevention) is part of the public's job."

You said it, chief.

Most people join the fire department because they have a desire to serve, and usually they find it satisfying, rewarding and enjoyable.

But any firefighter will tell you that the best fire is the one that never starts. The one that doesn't send a family out into the street in the middle of the night. The one that doesn't cause nightmares. The one that doesn't leave a family homeless. The one that doesn't kill a pet or destroy the only car you've got, the one that doesn't erase a lifetime's worth of family photos. The one that doesn't maim a child, a mom, a dad --or a firefighter.

By all means go to the big fire hall at the intersection of South Broadway and Jefferson avenues Wednesday night. See the big trucks. Shake hands with a firefighter. Have a bite to eat. Watch the firemen slide down the fire pole. Sit behind the wheel of a pumper truck.

And remember what the chief said.

Prevention is part of the public's job.

He's right. We are all volunteer firefighters.

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