Received good training at MFD

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To The Editor:
   In celebration of the Margaretville Volunteer Fire Department’s 125 years of service I would like to mention a few things and thank the Margaretville Fire Department for giving me the training “tools” to be a good volunteer firefighter.  I was always given the opportunity to succeed and advance.  

A few of the things I learned I took with me when I joined the Wagstaff Circle Volunteer Fire Department here in Chesterfield County Virginia in the suburbs of the City of Richmond.  

For instance, I learned to always be prepared and to have my turnout gear ready and with me. This is something that has gone by the wayside and is not encouraged here in Chesterfield. They do not like it when one POV uses their own personnel vehicle to respond to a fire call. They prefer that the volunteers respond or stay, including overnight stays, at the fire station to man their fire engines before being dispatched.

I always felt it was quicker and better to be at a call helping instead of going to the station, getting my gear, and waiting for enough people to hopefully arrive and “mark” up the engine.

Guess which country Catskill mountain boy had a lot of responses using his own vehicle?  In fact, one time there was a motor vehicle accident down the street from my house one night.  I went out to my truck, got my gear, put the tailgate down, got dressed, walked over and helped out the paid guys. They have both paid and volunteers here.  

Here in Chesterfield County the volunteers get a few bucks, to cover the cost of gas per response.

 This is something that firefighters in Margaretville and the surrounding area do not receive.
I have found that the all-volunteer fire departments like Margaretville are slowly being squeezed out of existence through regulations, requirements, and by paid firefighter unions.  All of this plus the long training hours, work schedules, interrupted meals, and family time are hard on the volunteers.  This also makes it difficult to keep members.  

For all of this and for the training I received I want to thank the Margaretville Volunteer Fire Department for a job well done.

Robert E. Halpern,
Midlothian, Virginia