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Honor volunteer firefighters

By: Carol Feineman
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I never wanted to be a firefighter. I don’t like smoke and I’m not able to lift more than 50 pounds for more than a few minutes. And I try not to put my life in danger. With that said, I admire firefighters who immediately jump into action as soon as they receive a call for help. Firefighters risk their lives every day they answer calls. It’s not something I usually think about most days. But that isn’t right. Firefighters should be regularly recognized, not just when we cover a massive fire or rescue effort in the newspaper. So I’m glad that the Placer County Board of Supervisors honored three Lincoln firefighters on Tuesday. These firefighters from the Paige Volunteer Fire Department in Lincoln aren’t even paid for their efforts. The volunteer fire department, formed by Warren Bostick and about 12 friends in May 1981, covers about 50 square miles of rural farmland from the western city limits to Sutter County, southern city limits to the Foothills Boulevard area and northern city limits to Coon Creek. Warren said the group was organized to help Lincoln City Fire and Rescue since there was no Placer County Fire Service back then to protect the rural 50 miles. Warren, the volunteer department’s fire captain, and Ed Zimmerman, a fire captain with the Fowler Volunteer Fire Station, were recognized Tuesday with commemorative coins that recognize individuals who give more than is expected. John Martell Jr., a driver/operator with the Paige Volunteer Fire Department, was also honored Tuesday with an award of valor for his efforts during an area wildfire in June where he was treated on the scene for facial burns. In that fire, two other firefighters received injuries and two brush engines were completely burned. Instead of basking in the supervisors’ attention, Warren called the recognition “humbling.” Ed said the award “blew me away.” Both said they do it for the community. “We’re doing what we love to do and someone is awarding us for that. It’s unexpected and an honor to be recognized for what we love doing, helping people in their times of need,” Warren said. These firefighters, who don’t receive any monetary compensation for putting their lives on the line, volunteer solely so they can assist others. “In a rural area, you just have a feeling that neighbors help neighbors. It seems like the right thing to do,” Warren said. “And it’s rewarding when you find out that the people lived or survived without major injuries. It’s wonderful when you can put the house fire out and save people from emergencies.” Today, the department of five volunteers, all EMT-trained, answer about 300 calls a year, from helping heart-attack victims, rescuing victims from car crashes to putting out residential and wild land fires. The volunteers are on call 24/7. And every time the pager rings, the firefighters are trained to expect the worst. For example, Warren mentioned three of his most heartbreaking calls: “I’ve been at two SID deaths. Those will be with me forever. I was called to a vehicle accident Thanksgiving of 2003. In the back of the car were all these condiments for Thanksgiving dinner and there were two people dead in the front seat from a head-on on 65. That stayed with me.” As Lincoln’s population grows, more firefighters are needed at the volunteer station. “We provide a minimum 40 hours of safety training and 12 hours per month. We have firefighters from 18 to 66 (I’m 66), as long as you’re capable of heavy work lifting 50 pounds. It’s a physical job.” Not everyone can be a Paige volunteer firefighter because of the demanding physical and emotional requirements. But everyone can help by giving financial donations and volunteering/and or attending two annual fundraisers, which are the pancake breakfast on July 4 and the pancake breakfast for pheasant-season opening the early part of November. To donate or volunteer, call Warren at 645-3213. At the very least, it’s easy to give thanks to these neighbors who unhesitatingly respond in minutes to life-threatening emergencies, often at 3 or 4 in the morning or in 1,800 to 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit temperatures. Carol Feineman is the News Messenger editor. She can be reached at 774-7972 or at carolf@goldcountrymedia.com.