Candidates with the availability to respond to emergencies during the daytime hours are especially needed, though the need exists for all shifts. “We have a lot of guys who work out of town during the day, when we don’t have a full 20 guys available,” says Wakefield.
Potential recruits need to be at least 18 years old. They also need to live within Culver or Union Township and have an interest in emergency services and helping others.
There are specialized opportunities for volunteers with particular interests, such as SCUBA dive training for the department’s dive rescue team, or advanced rescue classes for those interested. These volunteers also help improve the knowledge base of fellow firefighters by sharing what they learn in training at department meetings
Those interested in volunteering are encouraged to visit or contact the Culver Town Hall (574-842-3140) and speak to the town clerk, deputy clerk, or town manager and fill out an application.
The department can’t even take out its first truck without five firefighters, with the same number required for the second truck out. Once at the fire, only two firefighters can enter a burning house with air tanks, and must rotate into an ambulance for “detox” after an allotted period of time for checks of heart rate, blood pressure, and the like.
Wakefield acknowledges part of the challenge is related to the training required nowadays for any emergency responder, including firefighters. “There’s a lot to it,” he says. “You have to go through classes and it takes a long time to learn. It’s not a walk in the park.”
Firefighters do receive financial compensation in the form of a stipend, depending, says Wakefield, “on how much you show up, how many meetings you attend,” and a clothing allowance.
“It’s hard when you say, ‘volunteer,’ a lot of people don’t want to put forth the time,” he says. “But in the long run when you help somebody one time, that feeling you get from helping people is a big deal.
“It’s a neat thing,” Wakefield adds. “I feel thankful to be able to do it.”