Who Will Replace Older Volunteers?
My mom and dad were part of what is known as 'The Greatest Generation.' Dad served in World War II. Mom worked hard at home and in the community. It was a generation of service. It got me to thinking about how my generation stacks up.
I got my answer by meeting the long-time members of the Warren County Fire Police. Most are a little older than me, but I like to think we fit into the same generation. They represent our age group well. When their community needed them, they stepped up...and they are still are stepping up.
"Whatever it is that we gotta do... you bundle up the best you can and go help your neighbors,” says Gloria Snow.
Gloria is a charter member of the Warren County Fire Police, founded in 1986. The organization gets its members from the 19 volunteer fire departments in the county. Gloria has been a member of the Bear Lake Fire Department for 43 years. Her husband Jim has been a member for 52 years. Bob Williams has been a member of the Tidioute Fire Department for 54 years. His wife Helen has been a member for 47 years. . Kevin Seelinger of the Starbrick Fire Department has 40 years of service. Bucky Knapp served both the Lander and Pleasant Township departments beginning 62 years ago. All are still volunteering in the fire police.
"All they had to do was ask and we were there. Period. No questions asked. We were there,” says Bob.
Bob remembers being called to Route 6, near Columbus, after a tanker truck overturned.
"It was a blizzard and about five of us stood out in that blizzard for about five or six hours directing traffic. It wasn't a very pleasant time to be there but somebody had to do it,” he says.
The fire police had about 60 active members when established in 1986. It now has about ten people who respond to just about every call. The average age is close to 70. The group does not know how much longer they can do the work. They've appealed to the young people of the community.
"They are too busy,” says Gloria. “They just don't want to be involved unless they get paid. If they get paid they'll come out."
Emergencies will still happen. Traffic control will still be needed at parades and the county fair. The members of the older generation will answer the call. But, for how long?
"I don't know. I'll just do it until I can't,” declares Gloria. “It could be two years. It could be 5 years. It could be another 10. I don't know."
Anyone interested in volunteering with the Warren County Fire Police is asked to contact any of the 19 volunteer fire departments in Warren County.