Local fire districts in need of volunteer firefighters

SPOKANE, Wash. — Wildfires have already kept firefighters busy this year. Some fire districts in Spokane have a lot of ground to cover and they need your help.

Spokane County Fire District 3 covers 570 square miles. With more people calling for help and the population growing, they need more boots on the ground.

Dead brush can catch on fire really quickly. The fire district has already put out several wildfires this year and they’re hoping more volunteers will sign up to help them with that.

Fighting fires is nothing new for these men and women, though it does take a village.

“In the larger fires we saw in the west plains last year, I’d say approximately about half of the firefighters that responded to those were volunteer,” said district Fire Chief Cody Rohrbach.

The district has 150 volunteers across 11 fire stations. They’ve already been to around 20 fires this year, and last year more than 2,700 people called for help.

“So it may sound like a lot of firefighters, but given the number of emergency calls we receive in the big geographic area, we’re always looking for more volunteers,” Rohrbach said.

That’s where you come in. It takes a year to become a volunteer, and you get stipends while you train.

“And then the moment they complete their first year of probationary training, we hire them as part-paid on call members where they’re actually paid by the hour for their time,” Rohrbach said.

He says many don’t stay volunteers for long, but some do, like battalion Chief Russ Mace, a 56-year volunteer who died last week.

“He volunteered his entire career until his last day,” Rohrbach said. “When I was informed that he was going to pass we made him an honorary career firefighter.”

Rohrbach is encouraging you to become a volunteer and says it’s not only an opportunity to learn, it’s a chance to help others in your community.

If you’re looking to volunteer, you can head to your local fire district’s website to see how to sign up.