County fire departments seek recurits

Those interested should apply, training starts next month

LAKE COUNTY — Throughout Lake County, fire chiefs are hoping to shore up their department’s firefighter recruitment numbers. Although the county’s various departments aren’t in a dire state due to the lack of new firefighter recruits, the numbers are down across each department and fire chiefs are hoping to change that, said Greg Bombich, Sauble-Elk-Eden Fire Rescue chief. In addition being the department’s chief, Bombich also is the vice president of the Lake County Fire Officers Association and the firefighter training coordinator for Lake County. During an association meeting approximately two months ago, each chief revealed they weren’t receiving new firefighter recruits. While the fire chiefs are exploring other avenues to help gain recruits, Bombich hopes individuals with a strong sense of community will apply. “An individual who is willing to spend some time and make a commitment to his community (makes a good recruit),” Bombich said. “That is the big thing — making a commitment to the community. ... An individual that has demonstrated a willingness to support the community is one of the big things; (firefighting) is very time consuming.” All county departments are paid, on-call volunteer departments, Bombich said. Being on a volunteer force allows firefighters to maintain another job, although they will remain on-call. Those interested should be at least 18 years old, but a specific cutoff age is not given. All the equipment needed to be a firefighter is provided by the department and there are no out-of-pocket costs, Bombich added. Each department has their own hiring procedures, but most entail an interview process and background checks. There is no testing involved to be a part of a department. However, after being hired, an individual is given two years to complete firefighter I or firefighter I and II training, Bombich added. For the first time, the county will hold both training sessions at once in Baldwin next month. “We thought maybe this will cut down the time a little bit for recruits and new hirees,” Bombich said. The training will start Oct. 1, and there’s still time for new recruits to sign up for the course, he added. For more information about joining a department, individuals should contact their local fire chiefs or township supervisors.