Volunteer Spotlight: Richard Coffland

Name: Richard Coffland
Title: Lieutenant
Department Name: Grand Coulee Volunteer Fire Department
Location: Grand Coulee, WA

Why are you an NVFC member?
In our business, mistakes can cost lives. I value the research and shared ingenuity of our members, making it easier for our department to learn the hard lessons without paying the hard cost.

Why are you a volunteer firefighter, EMT, or rescue provider?
Our family ranch covers several thousand acres. Any wildfires in our area have a great chance to threaten our livelihood, and we would be involved no matter what. It was a much smarter option to be part of a trained and cohesive unit. Our time has paid off in great dividends as our department has grown and adapted to the new challenges of wildland-urban interface. We our now helping our communities to be more resilient towards the dangers of wildfires.

What year did you join the fire or emergency services?

What are your memorable moments as a firefighter or EMS provider?
Introducing a young rookie to the beast. [He thought] it was all fun and games being a firefighter right up to that moment when [the crew] was facing a towering wall of flame with smoke all around. I finally had to make the decision to pull our crew back to the next line. The look on his face when he finally had a moment to understand just what we do and what a firefighter is up against. He kept talking about how much water he was pouring on the flame and it just didn’t make a difference. It was a great teaching point and no one got hurt.

What contributions have you (and your department) made in your community?
We are currently working with communities spreading the word on developing Firewise landscaping, distributing fliers, and providing door-to-door discussions with our neighbors to help residents understand the true threats to themselves, home, and property in a wildfire.

We are very involved in our school sports programs and local rodeo, and provide scholarships to many schools in our area. Most telling is the diversity of our department – men and women of all age groups. We are truly blessed with a strong organization of very experienced volunteers, and a long list of those waiting to become a firefighter with Grand Coulee Volunteer Fire Department.

* Interested in serving your community? Find volunteer fire service opportunities at www.MakeMeAFirefighter.org.