FRUITA, Colo.- The Lower Valley Fire District is mostly made up of career firefighters, but has some volunteers ranging from 20-65 years old. 20-year-old Cody Moores is the youngest volunteer at the department. He’s been volunteering here for a year and a half.
“It’s a good foot in the door,” Moores said. “It’s a great way to get experience. “
According to the National Fire Protection Association, the amount of volunteer firefighters nationwide has decreased by over 200,000 since 1983. A big reason for this trend is the difficulty of recruiting and keeping young people as volunteer firefighters.
Cody Moores says he hopes to become a full-time paramedic some day. He currently works full time as an emergency room technician on top of his volunteering duties. He says it’s all about learning and pursuing his passion.
“If you’re in it for the right reasons you don’t really care about the money,” Moores said. “I’m more than happy to do it. It’s getting me where i want to go and it’s something I love to do.”
A lieutenant with the Lower Valley Fire District says young volunteers bring a valuable perspective to the table. But he acknowledges the hours are long and to become a volunteer at such a young age is a big commitment.
“The expectations are no different from a career firefighter position” said Lt. Tom Henderson. “They’re required to hold a certain number of qualifications.”
Henderson says having young volunteers brings an advantage to the department because the training they receive comes from the most up to date curriculum.
“They have the newest updated knowledge and science when it comes to fire and medicine,” Henderson said. “They had to go through EMT school. A lot of them have gotten their fire science degrees.”
For Cody Moores, he says this learning experience will make all the difference in his career.
“It can be taxing, but it pays off many times over in the end. It’s worth every second.”