Montana Outdoors

December 15, 2007

That’s why!

Filed under: Montana, Outdoors, Rural fire department — Tags: , — montucky @ 11:37 pm

I have been troubled for the last several months by the difficulty we face in staffing our volunteer Rural Fire Department and the general feeling of apathy of so many of the people in the area as well as the lack of cooperation we encounter. We receive no pay when we work hard and take risks to save a business, and yet if we trade there they don’t mind charging us full price. The hospital expects us to risk our lives to provide protection to their facility for no pay and yet if we need their services they will charge us $400 an hour (as I recently found out). I often wonder just why anyone would volunteer to do this: I ask myself why I do it.

Last week after responding to a scene where a truck had caught on fire and the fire was threatening a home, as I helped extinguish the blaze I glanced over at the house and there in a second story window was the face of a child, a little girl of four or five years, looking out with her nose pressed against the window pane, her eyes wide with excitement and wonder and maybe a little fright at the sight of the trucks with their bright flashing lights and all the firemen in their bulky yellow suits. Suddenly the answer swept over me with a warm wave of understanding: that’s why!


  1. This actually tugged my heart strings a little harder than your previous post; your ‘sad little story’ tugged more at my brain strings.

    Both powerful posts, worthy of a read by anyone with either a heart, or a brain; of course we could always hope for a combination of the two, but that seems to be more rare.

    Thank you for your service.


    Comment by Pinhole — December 16, 2007 @ 10:37 am

  2. Thanks for the feedback, Pinhole! I have been really wrestling with trying to understand what it takes for us to live in a society and these ramblings are a result of that. If we have difficulty working things out in small communities like this one where we also have a local history of over a hundred years to guide us, it’s easier to understand that we have problems within society as a whole. Now if that would only lead to a solution!


    Comment by montucky — December 16, 2007 @ 11:13 am

  3. …this was really a beautiful story and of course why everyone does what they do…. hopefully any effort on our part will have a sacrifice intertwined in it. I wonder… if you were paid well would you still do it? 🙂

    I agree with pinhole. I appreciate what you do. I understand the men who fought the fires on our mountain last season …really honestly gave up so much. When the fires raged even worse the year before… we’ll I thanked them so much more. I offered my swimming pool (use the water) I offered them coffee (instead of a beer at ten a.m.) it is really easy for other to not understand why guys like you are more important than movie stars, or fellows on some wall street talking about stocks….

    Our society really needs to redefine hero.

    Maybe tho the little gal got it. 🙂


    Comment by aullori — December 17, 2007 @ 1:38 am

  4. Folks depend on volunteers and appreciate them at the time, but there’s often not much of a thank you later on. But the reason why – yes, that’s what it’s about. We were talking about this at our Christmas party Saturday night; one of our friends is a volunteer fire fighter here in town.



    Comment by knightofswords — December 17, 2007 @ 9:19 am

  5. Lori,

    If it were a paid job, it would be filled by someone much more qualified and 40 years younger.

    The little girl’s face in the window will stay with me for a long, long time and that’s more than enough of a reward!


    Comment by montucky — December 17, 2007 @ 9:58 am

  6. Malcolm,

    That reason why makes it all that much more important.

    I’m seriously concerned though because with more and more houses being built in the edges of the forests, the risk of fire is going up exponentially along with the danger in fighting them. I’m seeing more and more apathy exactly when there really needs to be more and more concern. Thursday we watched some training videos that included actual footage from woodland – urban interface fires. It’s really serious stuff, even for well trained pros!


    Comment by montucky — December 17, 2007 @ 10:03 am

  7. That is a wonderful reason Terry, and maybe someday when I have the time, I will give you my experiences as a volunteer fireman, mine weren’t as fulfilling as yours.

    But you are doing a noble thing that many turn their noses up to now, keep up the good work 🙂


    Comment by Bernie Kasper — December 17, 2007 @ 6:10 pm

  8. I’d be very interested in your experiences, Bernie, and would love to see you post about them! I think the more that’s said about it, the better it is for the departments, although I do not like for even a second what the press has done here.


    Comment by montucky — December 17, 2007 @ 9:05 pm

  9. regarding what aullori said….I was talking w/ my daughter the other day. we got onto how teachers are paid so much less than other jobs, how society really has its priorities mixed up about who the real heroes are!


    Comment by silken — December 17, 2007 @ 10:08 pm

  10. Yes, in our society we’ve done a terrible job of setting priorities. The players in professional sports are paid millions of dollars and yet there are millions of folks doing things that are actually useful and beneficial who are paid very little. It’s not surprising that we are failing as a species.


    Comment by montucky — December 17, 2007 @ 11:08 pm

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