From the Pen of the Chief

Through the years I have seen many candidates apply to volunteer with the Missouri State Fair Volunteer Fire Department. Recently, I started thinking about the challenges of our proud fire service and how special of a person it takes to become a professional volunteer firefighter. In a world where there are many kinds of people and many different personalities and priorities, these people give their time and energy to make their communities safer.

As I pondered this for a moment, I reflected upon some of our members. I asked myself why they wanted to join our fire department and realized that many of their reasons for joining our service are not that different. People come from all walks of life and often have the same goal… to help other people. They say it in a variety of different ways, with different words, but it’s all the same. When I think about some of the reasons, I have heard the most, I remember statements like “I want to help my community,” “I want to serve,” and “I want to help people.” 

What a noble admission this is, to give your time to serve the great state of Missouri and the State Fair. It’s even more impressive considering that these members are coming to the fair for the eleven-plus days, or what they can, with the understanding that firefighters can be in danger providing a service. Every one of us has probably thought about that as we began our candidacy, before joining our first department. But are we doing it for the above-mentioned? 

The Missouri State Fair Volunteer Fire Department is one-of-a-kind and the only fully functional fire department in the nation that serves for only eleven days per year. Times have changed and so has the Missouri State Fair Volunteer Fire Department. We will be like our home department or district with many of the same rules and regulations. I hope everyone is volunteering for the right reasons: to serve, learn, help, make new friends, have fun and go home safe and sound. 

This situation is not unique to us as volunteers and transcends generations of firefighters. FDNY’s Chief Edward F. Croker (1899 – 1911) once stated, “When they join the department, they face that fact. When a man becomes a fireman his greatest act of bravery has been accomplished. What he does after that is all in the line of work.” The interesting part here is that he made that statement over 100 years ago.

Some of the other reasons that I have heard often from candidates through the years, in no order, are: To learn new skills. To fulfill a family tradition (mom, dad, grandpa, uncle, was a firefighter). Interest in public safety as a potential career field. To be a part of a team. Someone in the F.D. talked to them, and they were so excited about it that it sounded neat. To gain excitement and experiences. To develop a future career/build resume. To pursue firefighting as a career field. 

Each of these reasons is valid. Of course, these can vary from person to person. Many of us have had one or more of these in our minds as we began our journey to a fire service career. It’s important to remember these reasons from time to time, as years of evening and weekend training and departmental experiences can change our focus on the priorities at hand. To retain those important volunteers, we must make sure that they are meeting their individual goals too!

When I first applied to our department, I put on my application that I wanted to join the fire service to serve my community. In my interview, I also added that I wanted to be a part of a great team. All these years later, I can proudly say that I’ve done both of those things… and many more. What a great experience it has been.

Why do you volunteer? A lot of things are going on around the station including addressing the women’s bathrooms and sleeping accommodations. Work details will be needed and all the help we can get will be very much appreciated. We will have one in June, July, and August. The dates will be announced on our Facebook page so let us know if you can help!

The convention is right around the corner, May 6-8. Washington Volunteer Fire Company will be hosting the great event. I call that a pre-fair gathering so I hope to see many from the fair at the convention. In closing, I hope and pray that everyone has had a great winter with minor situations with what mother nature has given us. As I finish up it is thirteen degrees with ice on the roads. Please be safe, you are very much needed, and think spring is just around the corner. Until we meet again.

Missouri State Fair Fire Department Online Application
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