The city of Vista Fire Department is looking for seniors in the community who may be interested in volunteering for its program. Volunteers perform various tasks from administrative duties to emergency incident support.
The Fire Senior Volunteer Program has around for several years.
Deputy Fire Chief Ned Vander Pol spoke of the importance of the work volunteers perform day to day. He said responsibilities vary from picking up and delivering supplies, to delivering mail between the fire stations, and offering emergency support.
“We have utilized senior volunteers in the past on incidents such as a large structure fire where we have firefighter personnel on scene for multiple hours,” Vander Pol said. “Senior volunteers will help with handing out water, cool towels, bringing food, and supplies to the incident scene.”
Having senior volunteers on hand for administrative duties helps firefighters in many ways. Vander Pol said that before this program, they would have fire engines driving around town and picking up supplies.
The Vista Fire Department has a total of six stations.
“By having the Fire Senior Volunteer Program in place, we’re allowed to keep the fire engines in their fire stations, in their ‘first in area’ — that’s the area of the city that the fire engine and the ambulance are responsible. So, this program really helps us with our emergency services delivery,” Vander Pol said. “The goal is to have those fire engines and ambulances in their ‘first in area,’ so if an incident does happen in that area, they are as close as possible to that incident.”
According to Vander Pol, senior volunteers have also helped with public educational programs.
“It’s beneficial when we go into a senior citizen community, and we have a senior volunteer there with us to talk about smoke detectors and topics like fall prevention,” he said.
Currently, the Fire Senior Volunteer Program has 10 volunteers who have various levels of commitment to the program. The goal is to have 15 volunteers.
“There is a lot of flexibility in the program, and that’s because a lot of the people that volunteer are retired, and so they might be traveling or have other commitments. Some of the volunteers that we have also volunteer with the Sheriff’s Department or the California Highway Patrol,” he said, adding that there is not a minimum number of hours required.
Vander Pol said those interested in volunteering can log onto the city of Vista website and download an application for the Senior Volunteer Fire Program.
Once applications are received, Vander Pol said he and Capt. Michael Lemire, who oversees the program, will review the paperwork. Once they have a couple or more volunteers who meet the requirements, they will schedule a brief orientation.
Following the orientation, the new volunteers can begin to help out with the day-to-day activities.
To learn more about the Fire Senior Volunteer Program, call Capt. Mike Lemire (760) 643-5331 or visit https://www.cityofvista.com/services/city-departments/fire-department/fire-prevention/fire-stations/senior-fire-volunteer-program.