Four volunteers take on the heat with Lindsay’s new fire division

Lindsay plans to introduce four new volunteer firefighters as support for the city’s new fire division within the public safety department

LINDSAY – For years, Lindsay’s police officers have had to rotate their badge for a fire helmet, serving as both officer and firefighter, all while being short-staffed. For the first time in over 10 years Lindsay hired three full-time, and fully dedicated, firefighters. And as soon as Sept. 1 the city will swear in four volunteers to back them up.

According to city manager Joe Tanner this is not the end of officers’ cross training as firefighters, “but it is definitely a step in that direction.” Notwithstanding the pivotal step to create a fire division within the Lindsay Public Safety Department, the city recognized they are still a ways off from funding its own dedicated fire department.

When the city merged their fire and police departments in 2011, they had 25 staffed officers to meet the needs of both public safety areas. This year they have only 15 officers, making volunteers even more crucial. 

“We don’t have the ability to staff our fire department with three full time firefighters,” director of public safety Rick Carillo said. “We need four [firemen], which would be a minimum, to attack a fire, a structure fire, or any fire. So we rely on our volunteers.”

Tanner believes the city will ideally need up to 15 volunteer firefighters for a fully functional fire division within the public safety department, especially amid being short staffed. 

The volunteers will not be doing overnight shifts, but will be on-call and also have the option of riding around with the fire division during their free time or days off. They will have cellphones that notify them when the department needs help. Their gear will also be stored in their personal vehicles so that they can gear up quickly when responding to a call.

There are currently no prerequisites to becoming a volunteer. They will be trained from the ground up, aiding the department with the basics first, such as hooking up to hydrants and traffic control. As the volunteers become more accustomed to the fire equipment and city layout, they will be trusted with more responsibilities. The goal is to make them into functional firefighters, according to Carillo.

In addition to the extra help the volunteers will bring, they will also serve as inspiration to the community. Two of the volunteers are females and the other two are males, making a more diverse team. 

“In our department [females] are outnumbered by males,” Carillo said. “These females, both Hispanic, are going to be able to show our female youth that they can do this too, it’s not just the job for males. It’s diverse, and anybody can take part.”

They are all local to Lindsay except for one, who is located in Visalia. Though the response time is longer, Carillo said the excitement in these young volunteers is a breath of fresh air to the department, as well as the community.

“[This is] something that the community deserves, and I’m glad that we’re able to provide that service for them,” Tanner said.

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