If you value the community where you live and want to keep it a safe place for your friends, family and neighbors to call home too, consider becoming a firefighter or first responder.

Currently, the Imlay City Fire Department is actively recruiting new members to join their ranks and many other agencies always have the welcome mat for anyone interested in serving.

It’s hard to overstate the sacrifices these volunteers make on a daily basis when their pagers go off. They leave their jobs or families at a moment’s notice to respond to often chaotic situations where they must act quickly and calmly. Last month, when overly dry conditions resulted in a rash of field and grass fires, these men and women were responding to dozens of calls—sometimes simultaneously—over a period of several days. They must also be trained and prepared for a wide range of responses besides fires such as natural disasters, hazmat situations and rescues of all kinds—vehicle accidents, farm-related incidents or water/ice emergencies.

The National Volunteer Fire Council notes that the time donated by volunteer firefighters across the United States is valued at nearly $50 billion per year.

Outside of emergencies, local firefighters play a very crucial role in educating the public, particularly children, about fire safety and avoiding other common dangers.

The fire council reports that while the number of volunteer firefighters across the country has dropped, call volumes continue to increase. The average age of firefighters is on the rise and family and work committments make it harder for younger community members to join. These factors mean it’s more difficult for fire departments to have adequate manpower.

We hope that all those who want to serve and can devote the time, will consider joining their local fire department.

If serving isn’t a possibility due to physical or other limitations, consider how you might otherwise support the men and women who respond to emergencies or do what you can to help a family member or friend who’d like to volunteer.