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Eagle Fire Protection District welcomes new volunteers

Julie Imada-Howard/Eagle Correspondent
Special to the DailyVolunteer firefighters with the Greater Eagle Fire Protection District participate in a live burn exercise.
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. Eight volunteers have joined the department over the past few months, helping fill the force’s ranks and its newly expanded fire house.

Committed volunteers are always welcome at the fire house. The district is responsible for 196 square miles of west central Eagle County and answers more than 1,000 calls per year. However, joining the department requires more than just filling out an application.

According to Chief Jon Asper, in addition to background checks and a year of training, volunteers also have to obtain various professional certifications including emergency medical technician, Firefighter I and II basic training, and hazardous material training.

The training of volunteers is costly to the district, so candidates are intensely screened to ensure compatibility with the existing team and their willingness to learn. Committed volunteers can pursue an associate’s degree in fire science from Colorado Mountain College. Often the department will help with the cost of the classes.

Volunteers are required to work 48 hours a month and complete 100 hours of training per year. The district added living quarters to its remodeled Shelton Station in Eagle in order to offer more flexibility to volunteers and their families. Today, instead of all volunteers being on-call all the time, they can choose shifts that fit their schedules to meet the service requirements.

That new flexibility is what brought former volunteer Eric Mosher, 22, back to the force. Mosher, who works full time for the town of Eagle public works department, recently returned to the department after taking a year off. With defined 12-hour shifts, Mosher said he has more time to give to his work, school and other pursuits than in his previous stint with the department.

Asper said he expects volunteers to be committed to the district, the people and community they serve.

Helping people in the community was what brought Rick Loonam to the department. A volunteer for the past four months, Loonam said he had been interested in firefighting for some time. A plumber by trade, he said he was impressed by Eagle Fire’s willingness to invest in him by picking up the cost of his required certifications. He said he was also impressed with the department’s professionalism and the sense of camaraderie between the station’s full-time and volunteer firefighters.

“If you show you are dedicated to learn, the department is totally willing to pay for those certifications. It makes it much easier to get on with the department,” said Loonam, who added that many departments require volunteers to be fully certified before joining.

Loonam said his goal is to become a full-time staff member at the department. The only way to do that is start as a volunteer. Volunteer service with the department is a requirement for applicants for paid positions.

“Everyone is willing to help each other and teach each other,” Loonam said. “Every time you go out on a call you learn something new.”

This story first appeared in the Eagle Valley Enterprise.

AT A GLANCE

To learn more about volunteering for the Greater Eagle Fire Protection District, call Chief Jon Asper at 328-7244 or e-mail: station1@eagelfiredistrict.com. The fire station is located at 425 East Third Street in Eagle.


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