The Liberty Volunteer Fire Department is recruiting candidates to join its house.

Volunteer firefighters are crucial to small communities like Liberty and surrounding small towns. The National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA) estimates out of over a million firefighters in the US in 2017, over half (roughly 65 percent) were volunteer firefighters with the other 35 percent making up the career firefighters. The NFPA also states that 95 percent of the volunteer firefighters were in stations that protect fewer than 25,000 people. 

Those two statistics are sobering when considering what small towns may face in emergency situations without volunteer fire departments. Small communities would be left to rely on neighboring cities with proximities much further away and in an emergency, minutes matter.

Lt. Tim Williams at LVFD said,  “Sometimes we are the first guys on the scene of an emergency because we are the closest. It [LVFD] is needed in the community.”

Liberty Volunteer Fire Department is one of the oldest volunteer fire departments in the state, with history dating back to 1841.  Volunteers have been serving the citizens of Liberty and other nearby communities for 179 years and the need hasn’t changed.

Currently, LVFD has 16 volunteers, with one planning to move soon, leaving the department with 15 volunteers.  However, according to Williams, they need around 20 active volunteers and even though it can be tough, Williams expressed how much positive comes with volunteering.

“A few years ago, we were able to save a guy that had fallen in a grain bin,” Williams said. “It also feels good when you get a thank you card in the mail from someone you recently helped.”

Williams mentioned another unique positive of being a part of the LFVD.

“The brotherhood we have is awesome,” Williams said. “You get to know the guys and become more like family. You also get to know firefighters from other communities and you know these guys have your back if you need them.”

As gratifying as the rescues are for volunteer firefighters, it is still challenging and comes with a lot of responsibility. Applicants, once accepted, will complete a program certified by the NFPA that requires 110 hours of training. Beyond training, prospective volunteers should keep in mind they can be called out during weekends, holidays and at any time of the day or night.

“There have been times I have left my family on Christmas Eve to go out,” Williams said.  “And sometimes I still wake up at night and remember details from things I have seen, that I will probably never forget. It takes a special person to be a volunteer fire- fighter.”  

Residents who are interested in applying to become a volunteer firefighter can stop by the station, talk to another volunteer firefighter in the community, call the non-emergency number or even send the LVFD a message through its  Facebook page.

Applicants must be 21 years of age, live within close proximity of Liberty, be able to pass background checks, drug screenings, physical and written examination and the candidate must have a valid driver's license.