Volunteer Spotlight: Toni Russell

Name: Toni Russell
Title: Lieutenant
Department Name: Hot Sulphur Springs Parshall Fire Protection District
Location: Hot Sulphur Springs, CO

Why are you an NVFC member?
I am so passionate about the fire service, and I really enjoy all the resources the NVFC has available to us – from the recruitment downloads I can customize to the articles and links. It’s just a really great tool in our toolbox.

What is your occupation?
Travel Agent

Why are you a volunteer firefighter, EMT, or rescue provider?
I felt a hole in me. I had been doing the same job for 18 years. Just felt empty, blah, and bored. I went to the local volunteer department on a training night. They actually had me gear up and then threw me in a maze. I didn’t come back for 3 months because of that. When I did go back, there was a county-wide fire academy that was going to start. I enrolled in that and never looked back. It was one of the hardest things I had ever done, but the sense of pride and accomplishment I felt after it was amazing. Now 7 years later, I am the training officer. I hold quite a few state certifications and continue to learn, train, and pass on the knowledge to our crew. I just recently completed Fire Officer 1. This is a big deal up here, as we are all volunteer and the commitment it takes to keep learning is a testament to ourselves and our crew. Lead by example.

What year did you join the fire or emergency services?

What are your memorable moments as a firefighter or EMS provider?
Completing academy and getting that first Colorado State fire certification. I will never forget that.

What contributions have you (and your department) made in your community?
I think the level of service we provide is a great contribution to our district. We have come a very long way even since I started as far as knowledge, skill sets, etc. Our Chief started a cadet program that is open to all 5 fire district areas so we can try and get these young people interested in the fire service. I feel that getting them hooked early is the key to the future of the dwindling volunteer fire service.

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