After we had moved to the farm and got to know people my husband came to me and said, “I’m going to join the volunteer fire department.” I asked if he was sure he wanted to do that and he said to me, “Shawni, my dad always said that if a person is physically capable, they need to be on the volunteer fire department.”
When you decide to become a volunteer firefighter, you are on-call 24/7, 365 days a year. You may get a knock on your door for help, there is no one to take your shift or trade hours with and it is a job in which your life is at risk. The community is dependent on this group of volunteers. In turn, your local VFD (Volunteer Fire Dept) is also supported by other VPD’s in close proximity. So, if not enough people are available to respond to a call in your town, the next closest town of volunteers will be dispatched. It is a system that truly defines volunteerism and community.
So we get the pager. Ah, the pager. The “calls” come through the pager. All the calls…for the entire county. I’m not going to lie, I have to tell you that this was a nightmare for me. It goes off at all times of the night. It would go off, I couldn’t get back to sleep. I knew it was a good cause but oh…my…lands, I was CRABBY. I wanted to flush it down the toilet. After listening to it go off over and over, and sitting awake, cursing it’s existence, I started to learn there are different tones for different calls. So, if our VFD that covers our area gets a call, there is a much different tone that starts the call from dispatch. As time goes along, you actually start blocking it out. Your ears start noticing certain tones and actually, it’s not bad at all. Just something you have to get used to. I really don’t even notice it much anymore and no, I never made good on my threat to put it in the toilet.
My husband spends his time at his office in Lincoln (about 30 min. away) and when he can, he will do work from home, so if he isn’t at home or around our area, he’ll leave the pager here so if something happens during the day I can let him know. Although he couldn’t respond to a call fast enough from Lincoln, he can still keep up on what is going on.
Today, there was a call, and it said, “Last call…last fire call for (local fireman’s name from a neighboring town).” And dispatch ended the call with commending him on his service and that “he will be missed”.
I am sure they do it all over the country, but as a fairly new family to this group, I hadn’t heard that type of call before. It was a volunteer who had passed away recently. It just really hit me. What a very respectful way to honor a firefighter. His last call. It gave a moment for all of the VFD’s to pay respect to a fallen friend, neighbor and firefighter. It makes me proud of my small town. Really proud.