Chelan, Entiat and Orondo Fire Departments seeking more volunteers

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by Richard Uhlhorn

Chelan Fire & Rescue Assistant Fire Chief Brandon Asher was at the Vogue from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. on Wednesday morning in hopes of answering some questions regarding volunteerism at the Chelan, Entiat, and Orondo Fire Departments.

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Chelan Fire & Rescue Assistant Chief Brandon Asher is at the Vogue on Wednesday mornings between 9 and 10 a.m. to answer residents questions about Chelan’s Fire Service and Volunteer opportunities.

Asher, who is the son of long time Entiat Fire Department Chief Mike Asher, is the Volunteer Recruit and Retention Coordinator that has been funded for four years under a FEMA Regional SAFER Grant. His job is to primarily find and sign up and retain volunteers for all three Departments.

“It’s a challenge for me to find volunteers,” said Asher. As a part of that effort, he has 17 new banners that will be placed at all of the Districts Fire Stations inviting men and women interested in serving their communities through the fire service to volunteer.

He has positions available in Structural Firefighting, Wildland Firefighting, EMS and support services. Volunteers can sign up for just structure fire fighting, wildland firefighting or for support services.

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Volunteers with Chelan, Entiat and Orondo Fire Departments not only learn how to fight fire, but also skills that lead to an EMS certification. (File Photo – Richard Uhlhorn)

Asher said that volunteers meet every Tuesday night in Chelan and less at the Entiat and Orondo for training. “We meet for two hours from 7 to 9 p.m. We are the only fire department that meets every week.”

If you are interested in a fire service career, volunteering will get you on the right track to full time. “Your chances are a lot better if you have had training and volunteered,” said Asher. “If that’s what you want to do, it’s a great way to begin.”

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Wildfire, like the fire that almost destroyed S. Chelan in 2015 and caused close to $100 million in damage to structures, is becoming an ever constant threat from early spring to late fall. Assistant Chief Brandon Asher says the need for more wildland firefighters is growing each year. If you are interested in becoming a wildland firefighter, visit Brandon at the Vogue on Wednesday mornings or call him at the Fire Station at 682-4476. File Photo – Richard Uhlhorn

Training will eventually get you to Fire Fighter 1 status. “The test is huge, but we send our volunteers to any fire department that is hosting a Fire Fighter 1 Test.”

Many of the current volunteers are not physically capable for structural fire fighting anymore but are wildland certified, which can also be physically demanding. Asher currently has 50 volunteers at Chelan. Volunteers are compensated $20 per training session and per call out. “We also have one stipend position per day,” said Asher. That pays $65 per 12 hour shift and can run a full 24 hours for $130. Volunteers are also offered a free physical examination.

So, if you are interested in serving your community as a volunteer firefighter, or are seeking the fire service as a full-time career, volunteering is a great way to start.

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Interagency cooperation is night and day from even five years ago according to Assistant Fire Chief Brandon Asher. He stated that Unified Command training has made things much easier during a fire. The new air support protocol is also helping to quickly contain wild fires when they breakout.

Fire fighting is an exciting and rewarding way to serve the community you live in. Opportunities exist in Chelan, Entiat and Orondo.

Assistant Chief Brandon Asher or other administration chiefs will be at the Vogue on Wednesday, Oct. 24 between 9 and 10 a.m. to answer any questions regarding the District or volunteerism.

Contact Assistant Chief Brandon Asher at (509)682-4476 for more information

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