Fire department’s senior volunteer program celebrates a decade of service, seeks more participants

For the past 10 years, the San Marcos Fire Department has utilized a core of dedicated senior citizen volunteers to provide an array of services to support department operations. As the program prepares to celebrate its 10th anniversary, it is also looking to expand the number of program participants.

Currently, the fire department has a dedicated team of a dozen volunteers who are routinely dispatched to support major incidents. When on duty, volunteers may be called into service at any time — day or night — to provide support items like cold drinks, food, shade and chairs. Often times, specially trained volunteers provide trauma support when needed. During non-emergency times, volunteers provide administrative support for the department.

“Our senior volunteers are a vital part of our overall operation,” said San Marcos Fire Chief Todd Newman. “For the past 10 years, they have provided thousands of service hours, translating into significant savings for the city.”

Some of the more notable incidents that the volunteers have worked on include the 2007 Coronado Hills Fire and the so-called “Bomb House” incident in the San Marcos Fire Protection District in 2011. The volunteer core responds to working structure fires and other prolonged incidents that require first responders to go through rehabilitation cycles where firefighters rest, hydrate and are medically assessed before returning to the incident.

As it begins its 11th year of service, the fire department’s volunteer program would like to add up to a dozen more volunteers to its group. Training is provided and schedules are flexible. Volunteers must be 55 years or older, have a valid driver’s license, live in North San Diego County and be able to pass a security screening check. Previous fire service is not necessary, although some volunteers are former firefighters.

Potential volunteers are encouraged to apply by December 1 by filling out a city job application online. Uniforms, cell phones, an orientation and training are offered to qualified volunteers.
The senior volunteer program began in 2003 under former San Marcos Fire Chief Larry Webb, who initially saw the program as a cost-savings measure for the department and later as a community engagement tool.

The program won a prestigious Helen Putnam Award from the League of California Cities in 2004 for its innovation and service to the community.

For more information about the program, please contact Fire Captain Mike Korby at (760) 744-1050, ext. 3495.

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