Saving lives and money

In the Camas-Washougal area, volunteer firefighters work side-by-side with paid personnel, and play an integral role in responding to emergencies, saving lives, and lending a hand wherever they are needed.

In a statement from Gov. Chris Gregoire that highlighted Washington State Volunteer Firefighter Recognition Week, she said “volunteer firefighters make a huge contribution to public safety in Washington State with more than 15,000 volunteer firefighters representing over 75 percent of the state’s total fire fighting resources.”

Locally, the volunteers’ impact is also measurable.

As detailed in an article in today’s Post-Record, East County Fire & Rescue — a rural district that covers 60 square miles in unincorporated Camas and Washougal — currently has 38 volunteer firefighters and 11 paid. In 2010, the volunteers saved the fire district approximately $374,000.

The Washougal Fire Department has 28 volunteers and 10 paid firefighters. In 2011, its volunteers put in approximately 4,000 hours.

Most of us know little about the inner workings of local fire departments, except that the personnel are there when we need them. But area residents who would like to know more can attend the upcoming East County Fire and Rescue Citizens Academy.

The free event will be held Saturday, March 17, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., at the Fern Prairie Fire Station, where attendees will get schooled in the ‘hands on’ application of the knowledge and skills used by local firefighter/emergency medical responders. From the annual financial budget and emergency response tactics, to patient treatment and fire attack strategies, this event covers it all.

It’s an opportunity to see first hand the commitment level of our local firefighter volunteers, and the positive impacts they have on the local community.