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Volunteer Spotlight: Mike Jaffa

Name: Mike Jaffa 
Title: Captain - Vol. Recruiting & Retention
Department Name: Santa Fe County Fire Department
Location: Santa Fe, NM 
 
What is your career?
I am currently a paid Fire Captain but served as a volunteer firefighter for 21 years prior to accepting a paid position. I served as a volunteer in a combination department and “retired” as the Deputy Chief of the Department responsible for the entire volunteer section.
 
How long have you been an NVFC member? 
2 years
 
Why are you an NVFC member?
To interact with other volunteer organizations and gain knowledge. Volunteer recruitment and retention is a problem which not only my department faces but departments all around the country. The NVFC allows me to see how other departments are dealing with this specific issue.
 
Why are you a volunteer firefighter? 
Even though I am currently in a paid position, I was a volunteer Firefighter for 22 years. I joined to serve my community and become a leader within my community. 
 
How long have you been in the fire service? 
29 years 
 
What are your memorable moments as a firefighter or EMS provider? 
I take great pride in bringing new, young members into the fire service, helping train them to become fire service professionals, and watching them grow in their careers. 
 
What contributions have you (and your department) made in your community?
My department makes great contributions to our community every day. We strive to provide great, compassionate service to anyone who needs our services. My personal contribution recently has been to serve as the chair of the newly formed Company Officers Section of the IAFC. This role allows me to not only give back and contribute to my community, but to the fire service on an international scale.

Volunteer Spotlight: Lyle Dorschied

Name: Lyle Dorschied 
Title: President and Safety Officer
Department Name: LaFarge Volunteer Fire Department
Location: LaFarge, WI
 
What is your career?
I am retired after working at the lumberyard in LaFarge for 41 years, with 28 of those years as manager.  After my retirement, I have remained active with the fire department and have been with LaFarge Ambulance since 1975 as a driver. I am a high school basketball referee and have been active as such for 40 years. I have been an observer for the National Weather Service since 1984. I am also involved with other volunteer operations here in LaFarge.
 
How long have you been an NVFC member?
3 years
 
Why are you an NVFC member?
To support volunteer firefighters in their continuing effort to provide training and education for fellow firefighters nationwide
 
Why are you a volunteer firefighter?
I like to give back to the community that I live in. I take pride in knowing we as firefighters do our best to save lives and property in our area. There is satisfaction when you can look back at a scene and say we made a difference.
 
How long have you been in the fire service?
42 years
 
What are your memorable moments as a firefighter or EMS provider?
The Organic Valley office building fire of May 2013. We had over 100 personal from 3 counties help us fight this multi-million dollar fire, resulting in saving over half of the structure. We also have had numerous barn fires resulting in the loss of the upper floors of the barns, but with new technology on fighting these fires the farmer was able to milk his cows in the lower floor the next day. I was named the 2014 recipient of Liberty Mutual's Firemark award.
 
What contributions have you (and your department) made in your community? 
We present a fire prevention day for pre-k through 2nd grade every October during fire prevention week at our station. We help with blood drives at our station. We help any farmer who is need of water for his livestock by hauling and pumping water into their reservoir. We assist EMS at any traffic crash as well as helping them when they need help lifting a patient. We are an active participant in our annual July 4th celebration.
 

Volunteer Spotlight: Pauline Olesen

Name:  Pauline Olesen
Title:  Risk Management Officer
Department Name:  Piers Island Volunteer Fire Department
Location:  Piers Island, British Columbia, Canada

What is your career?
I’m a fused glass artist and I do some web design work as well and a retired insurance adjuster. 

How long have you been an NVFC member?
Less than a year

Why are you an NVFC member?
I joined in order to enter the Globe Gear contest as we are in need of new gear for our little department. The surprise has been the wealth of information available to NVFC members. So much, that I haven't had time to fully delve into all that is there to assist volunteer fire departments. Like too many departments, we are small, with a limited budget and a very limited volunteer pool. Government training requirements are increasing safety for volunteer firefighters, but it puts an added commitment level on volunteers. NVFC recognizes that and aims to help volunteer departments recruit and access training information. We hope to be utilizing your WFAP Home Assessment Checklist to better Fire Smart our community.

Why are you a volunteer firefighter?
We live on a very small island and many people come here to retire, which results in a very small pool of people fit enough to handle equipment. When you are needed, you pitch in for the community and do your best. We are an exterior operations only department on an island where any fire would quickly become an interface fire. People often think that they can't do anything to help, but if you are in reasonable shape and committed to learning and spending time, it's the best volunteering you can do for your community. We have made wonderful connections with other nearby larger volunteer fire departments, who are all so helpful and generous with their time.

How long have you been in the fire service?
15 years off and on

What are your memorable moments as a firefighter or EMS provider?
On our small island we are faced primarily with medical emergencies. Whenever possible we transport the patient into the hands of our provincial ambulance service. Every one of those transfers is in and out of boats and often in the middle of the night. And every one of those patients is someone we know personally – that makes it hard, but it makes you understand how much you are needed to make this possible in our isolated community. Without our First Responders & Firefighters, any medical assistance would be delayed by an hour. That makes a huge difference in patient care.

What contributions have you (and your department) made in your community?
Bringing the ability to have First Responders available is I think the biggest contribution to our community. We work hard with the community on fire prevention, bringing fire extinguishers, smoke alarms, and carbon monoxide detectors to the island for them to buy. We have no stores on the island, so anything we can do to make it easier, we try. A recent house to house smoke alarm check and chat revealed that most people do not have carbon monoxide detectors and most use fireplaces or woodstoves in the winter. We hope our chats with our neighbors will make them all safer. We've not had a structure fire here in over 30 years, we hope to keep it that way.

Volunteer Spotlight: Steve Borts

Name:  Steve Borts 
Title:  Chief
Department Name:  Jamestown Rural Fire Protection District
Location:  Jamestown, MO
 
What is your career?
I work full time as a car/truck salesman at a local car dealership. 
 
How long have you been an NVFC member?
2 years
 
Why are you an NVFC member?
To be totally honest, we joined NVFC because we needed new turnout gear, and they [NVFC in partnership with Globe and DuPont] offered the grant, along with a free year membership when applying. So that's how we started. And I wish we would have done it along time ago. We will continue our membership years into the future.
 
Why are you a volunteer firefighter?
I was raised by my father in the fire service. It's a passion I have for helping others. We all give our time and effort to help better our community! I'm even raising my kids to join the fire service someday.
 
How long have you been in the fire service?
23 years
 
What are your memorable moments as a firefighter or EMS provider?
I will always remember my first fire. It was the summer after I turned 16. It was actually a house of one of the firefighters – but when she picked up and dialed the fire department emergency number, she got a 'busy' signal. (This was pre -911 for our area). Because her phone was one of the phones that rang for the emergency number, she got a busy signal – because she in essence was calling herself. She came driving into town honking the horn, yelling and screaming that her house was on fire. Some of my friends and I hopped into my car and drove out there to see if we could help. The house was fully involved. We grabbed hoses off the truck and helped put water on the house. There were only two firefighters on the scene at the time. I'll never forget the first one..... Nor the heartache and anxiety watching the homeowner as all their belongings go up in flames....
 
What contributions have you (and your department) made in your community? 
We are a 100% volunteer department. The biggest thing we donate/contribute to our community is our TIME. We have training once a month for 4 hours. We have officer meetings once a month for 4 hours. And we have board meeting once a month for 4 hours. This doesn't count the numerous hours it takes to keep the station in order, 10 trucks in top operational condition, or the gear all up to date and tested. Then – we just finished Firefighter 1 and 2 training for 16 of our 28 firefighters. This was a huge commitment as it took 360 hours to complete. And that does not include studying, set up time, nor testing for the class. So I would say that our firefighters’ most important contribution to the Jamestown community is their dedication of time. They don't make more of it. All the time you spend at fire department activities is time away from family and friends........but that is what it takes with a volunteer fire department.
 

Volunteer Spotlight: Fred Allinson

Name:  Fred Allinson 
Title:  Retired Volunteer Battalion Chief
Department Name:  Burien City Fire Department
Location:  Burien, WA
 
How long have you been an NVFC member?
Active member 22 years, member 36 years
 
Why are you an NVFC member?
To promote the cause of volunteer firefighters and support all efforts to elevate the volunteer fire and emergency services to their highest level.
 
Why are you a volunteer firefighter?
In 1963 our family moved to a new community outside of Seattle and I became friends with a local gas station owner that was a volunteer firefighter. Through our valued friendship interest developed in answering the call. I joined the local fire department, studied and learned to answer the call myself. The call has been one of the biggest and most rewarding events of my life.
 
How long have you been in the fire service?
I was in the volunteer fire service for 36 years.
 
What are your memorable moments as a firefighter or EMS provider?
As a young volunteer firefighter and a father of three that worked as a driver for UPS day shift, I found it difficult to answer calls in the night and then leave for work in the AM, often with very little sleep. One time I answered a call on a weekend as a first responder from my personal truck where two young boys came across downed electric wires in a wooded valley. They decided to go for a swing across the gorge and grabbed the wires. One boy died and the other lost an arm. Saving the one boy was memorable and a blessing, but the loss of the other young life has never been forgotten.
 
What contributions have you (and your department) made in your community? 
As time passed I became an active board member in the Washington State Firefighters Assn. for 10 years and Conference Coordinator for 17 years. I was Washington State Representative to the NVFC for 22 years. There I was elected Second Vice Chairman for two years and Chairman for six years. Through the NVFC I served as a member to the World Federation of Volunteer Firefighters Assn. I was also chosen as an NVFC representative to the Congressional Fire Service Institute National Advisory Committee. 
 
In 1996 I went to the White House when President Clinton signed a bill increasing the penalty for arson fires from 10 years to 20. Later that year I returned to DC and read the names of the fallen firefighters from the previous year at the National Fire Academy. In 1999 I was named Fire Chief Magazine’s Volunteer Fire Chief of the Year.