Valley Center Fire Needs Community Volunteers
Interested in how Valley Center Fire works “behind the scenes”? I want to tell you a bit about a part of our work that doesn’t usually make the headlines and also tell you a story about how people in the community are giving back by helping us. And of course, this is a story you could play a part in, if you’re interested in helping us!
As a fire district, we fight fire in different ways. Of course, there are the guys and girls in “big red”. They are what you normally call “firefighters”. But, there are also firefighters who fight the fire in less traditional ways. We call this community risk reduction. The job of these non-traditional firefighters is to prevent a fire from occurring or reduce the damage a fire can cause by making changes before the fire starts. The best kind of fire is the one that never starts! We also like to say that we fight fire with our brains.
We view community risk reduction as an essential part of our mission. The most important factor in community risk reduction is our volunteers. They come from both the community and the fire department. We have an active and successful program that attracts different types of people. I would like to take a moment to describe how the program works.
How do we prevent fires? Simple things. Trained people who can examine a situation, home, structure or property and determine if there is a fire or other health and safety hazard. Once you know there is a risk, it is easy to fix it. We had some good “stops”, with a great example in the Miller fire.
We categorize our people as community volunteers and volunteer interns. Community volunteers live in Valley Center and are generally retired after successful business careers, not necessarily related to the fires. Volunteer trainees are generally younger and moving towards a career in the fire service. We combine these people into a team that can work effectively in the community; doing inspections, public outreach, educational events, and all sorts of things to make the job of the fire marshal easier (see what I did there?). We train them all in the details of what the job entails. Part of this process, of course, is that community volunteers also use their life experience to mentor interns, so that they are better prepared to take on this real career one day. Interns also have career development milestones they must meet (and we support them in this process.)
Valley Center Fire relies on these individuals to enable us to provide the high level of service the community expects of us and to do so in a fiscally responsible manner. I will also say that it is a pleasure to work with them every day.
If you’d like to see how it works for yourself or join the team, give us a call at 760-751-7600 and we’ll be happy to show you what we do. We can do good things together!