At Fairbanks fire departments, volunteers make a vital difference

FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) Volunteer firefighters are essential to putting out fires in Fairbanks. While all stations have at least one paid staff member, many stations around Fairbanks rely on volunteers to help keep the facilities fully staffed.

(John Dougherty/KTVF)

Chief Jeff Conner with the Ester Volunteer Fire Department said they have five paid staff, and the rest are volunteers. At the Ester station there are five live-in volunteers, and 23 other volunteers who come to the station a few times a month to spend the night and help out on any calls.

At Chena-Goldstream Fire and Rescue, Robert Willard was taking his physical fitness test to become a volunteer firefighter. He said he has never done firefighting before but, “Hopefully with this department I will be able to learn and hopefully build a career through EMT and firefighting.”

Conner said it isn’t just people who want to have a career in firefighting who do the job. Some of the volunteers at Ester are aircraft mechanics, car mechanics, or university employees.

“There is no set demographic for volunteers,” Conner said. As long as someone is over 18, has a drivers license and can pass a physical agility test, Conner said they can be a volunteer -- and departments always need volunteers.

“One of our big needs is volunteers. All the volunteer departments are always in search of more folks,” said Deputy Chief Keith Berrian at Chena-Goldstream.

To apply, the chiefs say to call or go to your nearest station and ask about signing up. The department will train volunteers with everything they need to become a full-fledged firefighter.

Copyright 2019 KTVF. All rights reserved.