Wis. Firefighters encourage people to "Be Somebody"

By KBJR News 1

May 31, 2014 Updated May 31, 2014 at 6:53 PM CDT

Brule, WI (NNCNOW.com) -- Volunteer firefighters from 22 fire departments around Northwest Wisconsin were in Brule, Wisconsin on Saturday to help spread awareness about the importance of being a volunteer firefighter, and to encourage people to "Be Somebody."

The annual "Be Somebody" recruitment event was created about 10 years ago to spread awareness about the important roll volunteer fire fighters play in rural communities.

"Think about when you are on the other end of the phone, you dial 911 and you want someone to show up," said Tracy Ruppe, a volunteer firefighter with the Lakeside Fire Department.

Many volunteer fire departments have a maximum of 25 people on their squads and firefighters say recruiting and retaining volunteers, especially the younger generation, is just one of their biggest challenges.

"If we get a couple of 18 year olds fresh out of high school they either get a job out of town or go away to college," said tom Michalek, Fire Chief for the Wascott Fire Department.

"People have busy lives; kids going to school. I have three children and they are busy. Getting time to participate is the hardest part," added Darryl Fiegle, Fire Chief for the Town of Superior Fire Department.

The other challenge about being a volunteer firefighter is that there is little compensation.

"Remember we are volunteers, we have jobs that we have to go to; we don't have everyone available at all times. It's just a fact of life of rural living," said Assistant Fire Chief for the Highland Fire Department, Marvin Landreth.

No experience is required to be a volunteer firefighter, and while current volunteers say there are no monetary rewards, the satisfaction of helping someone in need is priceless.

"This is a good thing, so and also one thing you get out of is you get to know your neighbors," said Landreth.

"It has been excellent; you meet so many nice people it's like a whole new family," said Ruppe.

Firefighters also staged in their respective communities to meet and talk with their residents after the event in Brule.

Posted to the web by Kati Anderson.