MCFD1 calls for volunteers to fill in personnel losses

(MCFD) Marion County Fire District Clear Lake

After laying off 12 firefighters/paramedics last month due to the failed option levy at the November election, Marion County Fire District #1 (MCFD1) is hoping to enlist more volunteers to help the district respond to emergency calls.

“Call volumes are climbing and response times continue to increase,” said MCFD1 Fire Chief Kyle McMann. “We simply do not have the required number of people to respond. We are concerned for the safety of our community and emergency personnel who are responding to calls.”

With the goal of attracting new volunteers, MCFD1 is starting a new recruitment academy this spring. Applications, which are due on Jan. 8, are available on the MCFD1 website (

When McMann started working for MCFD1 in 2001, the district had over 125 volunteers. Currently, however, MCFD1 only has 60 volunteers.

In addition to a 30% revenue reduction due to the levy failure, the district was also denied two grants that would have provided temporary staffing. Since the district relies on a diversified career and volunteer workforce, McMann knows how vital volunteers are to the day-to-day operations at MCFD1.

“Volunteers are the backbone of the fire service in the United States,” McMann said. “We don’t have the budget for a bunch of career staff members. Volunteers are essential to our operations. They help fill the void.”

Volunteers have the opportunity to serve in three different position types (firefighters, EMTs and tender operations). Firefighter and EMT positions are available to those who are already accredited/licensed in the state. For those who would need to complete entry-level training, MCFD1 is offering a firefighter and tender operating academy.

There are also three different roles volunteers can serve in. The traditional volunteer role is that of a home responder, who lives within a limited driving distance of a designated volunteer response station. Depending on the call volume and availability, one-to-two 12-hour shifts are added monthly to ensure that home responders continue to use their skills on major calls.

One of the other roles is solely dedicated to students. Individuals qualify for the role if they are currently enrolled at a fire science program or if they possess a National Registry EMT certification.

The final role is a Tour of Duty position, which was created to accommodate volunteers that don’t live within a limited driving distance to a designated volunteer response station.

McMann is looking to get up to 15 high quality volunteers through the recruitment academy.

“The benefit (of volunteering) is giving back to the community and doing it with a sense of pride. You’re coming into another family. It’s very rewarding,” McMann said. “It’s about meeting goals, developing relationships and adding a network of friends.”