Fire fighting and other volunteer work is important for the community and rewarding for the individual. Churches, schools, hospitals, political parties, and lots of other organizations need help. Help them!
By Mark D. Harris
I miss active duty in the US Army. Not that retiring was a bad thing; God certainly seemed to direct it. But having a global mission every day, regardless of where you are stationed, is exhilarating. God plants each of us in a specific place and time, and expects us to serve, love, and enjoy Him there. In September 2018, I joined the Volunteer Fire Department in Beaver, WV. Fire service was a new venture for me, but has five major appeals:
- An important community mission – from fighting fires to treating drug overdoses to moving downed trees to rescuing drivers after motor vehicle accidents.
- A great group of people – our department has former Marines and soldiers, current emergency medical technicians and paramedics, law enforcement officers, pastors, retirees, and others.
- Terrific training – learning firefighter skills is tough. Citizens have three groups that they call when they are in trouble: 1) police, 2) ambulance, and 3) fire. People call the police for protection (and arrest), the ambulance if they are sick, and the fire department for everything else. We learn to do the gamut from breaking into cars or houses to rescue (ice, mountains, buildings, vehicles, lost people) to body recovery with the dive team.
- Fun – odd as it may seem, when you have a good outcome, this work can be fun.
- Volunteer service of any type (fire or otherwise) improves health, well-being, a sense of meaning, and a variety of other health indicators.
Last night we responded to a motor vehicle accident in which a full-size pickup truck hit a parked semi-tractor trailer, totaling both. The driver was not wearing his seat belt and was seriously injured. We also responded to the call of an older lady who lives alone and thought that her hot water heater was leaking and flooding her basement. When we arrived, we found that the water line from her water heater to her washing machine had broken. We turned off the water at the source and told her how to fix the problem. She said that a deacon at her church would come by to help.
America used to be a volunteer nation, with people from all walks of life giving their time and treasure to their communities. The National Fire Protection Association reports a 16.23% drop in volunteer firefighters nationwide between 2015 and 2017. The Do-Good Institute at the University of Maryland produced a report showing the decline in overall volunteering in the past two decades. Declining birth rates, declining marriage rates, and increasing internet use are associated with less time volunteering. Justserve.org lists volunteer opportunities by zip code throughout the United States. Local churches also need volunteers for a variety of important tasks.
Join me in fighting fires, or otherwise volunteering!
 https://dogood.umd.edu/research-impact/publications/where-are-americas-volunteers, accessed 15 February 2020
 https://dogood.umd.edu/research-impact/publications/shifting-milestones-fewer-donors-and-volunteers, accessed 15 February 2020