In a town like Cooper Landing, the assistance of the volunteer fire department could mean the difference between life and death.
The Cooper Landing Volunteer Fire Department is sometimes the first crew on the scene of an automobile accident, the first to respond to a structure fire and the first to assist other departments when it is needed.
But what if the fire department had to close its doors due to the lack of trained volunteers?
"It isn't that we were in need of funding or anything like that," said Cooper Landing Volunteer Fire Department Chief Todd Wilson. "It was just the idea that we didn't have anybody that was certified or that knew how to do everything the right way."
The fire department's Assistant Chief Jon Casqueira called an emergency meeting Jan. 31 to say the department would have to close its doors if it didn't get more help from the community.
"All of the meetings were the same -- a lot of talk but not a lot of action," Wilson said. "We keep on pushing and pushing for volunteers, and I think this finally helped."
The meeting brought the total number of volunteers to 14, well more than the six needed to schedule a training course with a certified instructor.
"The volunteers and the chief are very good at what they do," said Mona Painter, a member of the Public Safety Committee of the Cooper Landing Community Club. "The meeting was to address some concerns on the structure and the organization of the department. I think it was pretty successful."
The training for the fire department, which Wilson said will be scheduled in the near future, will not just focus on structure fires.
"We do a lot of rescue work and respond to a lot of motor-vehicle accidents," Wilson said. "We handle the traffic around accidents and pretty much assist in any situation where we are needed."
According to Painter, the fire department helps the community in other ways, as well.
"The community does want this fire department," she said. "It helps out in lowering our insurance and that is important because many of us have most of our estate put into our homes.
"It also helps to know that if you ever need help, there will be someone there."
With the thoughts of closing the fire department's doors behind him, Wilson said the revitalization of the department should ease people's minds.
"I think this will help the community out quite a bit," he said. "When something happens a lot of people turn out to help, but they are currently not trained. Sure, a lot of them know how to squirt a hose, but they don't know where and how much.
"Our training is going to fix all of that and make sure everyone knows exactly what they have to do."
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