The Holton Fire Department is looking for a few good volunteers — not just to fight fires, but to “serve their community and help others out,” according to Holton Fire Chief Kevin Ingels.
Applications are currently being accepted for volunteer firefighters to help provide fire protection and other services for the City of Holton, as well as Rural Fire District 4, which covers nearly 240 square miles. One of the important things to remember about the volunteer job, Ingels said, is that it doesn’t just cover fighting fires.
“We do a little bit of everything, whether it’s searching for someone who’s gone missing, or helping with traffic accidents,” Ingels said. “It’s not just structure fires and grass fires. We do a lot of different stuff — you name it, they’re going to call the fire department.”
There are no guidelines for height, weight or physical appearance, he said, although it is a requirement of applicants that they have clean criminal and driving records. The main thing to keep in mind — particularly in those instances where firefighting is required — is that the successful applicant is physically fit.
“It’s important to be in good physcial shape,” Ingels said. “With the full bunker gear and the air pack, you’re going to be carrying an extra 60 to 70 pounds.”
Applicants for the firefighter’s position must be 18 years of age and have a valid Kansas driver’s license, be free of any felony and/or serious misdemeanor convictions, be of “high moral standing” within the community and subject to a background check. They must also live within the fire district or within a five-mile radius of Holton, Circleville or Denison for at least a year.
“The district covers an area that’s basically from 286th Road to 190th Road, and then from H Road to the Atchison County line,” Ingels said.
Applicants must also be able to complete 24 hours worth of firefighter training in a year’s time. Ingels said there is plenty of opportunity to complete that requirement, as firefighters meet on the first and third Fridays of each month for training sessions.
Emergency medical technician (EMT) training is not required, since the Holton fire department is not a “first responder” unit, but Ingels said “we’re not going to turn anybody away who is an EMT.”
There’s also not a limit or quota on the number of calls volunteer firefighters must answer, as Ingels noted the fire department operates on a “respond when you’re able to respond” system. It’s a system that has served the fire department well in the past, however, even when some firefighters are “on call” and still have to work at their regular jobs.
“We’ve been pretty fortunate to have guys that work here in town, or with the city, or owning their own business,” he said. “It’s also good if they work for somebody who’s willing to let them off when they’re needed.”
The fire department also offers some benefits and “perks,” Ingels said, noting the department has “a retirement policy” available to those who have worked for the department for at least 20 years. And since firefighters are considered employees of the City of Holton, they also have access to city facilities — such as swimming pool admission and camping at Prairie Lake — at no cost to them.
“Having previous fire experience is a plus, but not required,” he added.
Since the fire department has advertised for volunteers, Ingels said that one successful application has been processed, but there is still room for more who want to do something good for their community.
For more information, stop by the Public Safety Building at Fourth Street and Wisconsin Avenue or call the fire department at 364-3123. Applications are also available online at www.holtonkansas.org