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Riverside Fire Department seeking to replenish ranks of volunteers

The Riverside Fire Departmet assisted at a building fire in Kalona on Dec. 11. It was the 20th building fire response for the department in 2020. (Courtesy of Riverside Fire Department)
The Riverside Fire Departmet assisted at a building fire in Kalona on Dec. 11. It was the 20th building fire response for the department in 2020. (Courtesy of Riverside Fire Department)

RIVERSIDE — The Riverside Volunteer Fire Department is looking for new recruits after eight firefighters retired with more than 100 years of total experience.

Of the eight firefighters that retired, Bill Halleran had 45 years of service.

“That was a huge loss for our department,” Fire Chief Chad Smothers said.

Smothers said the department started the year with 31 firefighters. Normally, he said they like to have anywhere between 36 and 40.

No experience is needed to apply. The department does all in-house training for fire certification and pays for EMS certification, he said.

It is not an easy commitment though, Smothers said.

In 2020, the fire department responded to 231 calls for service, according to a report to the City Council, but Smothers said the years of only responding to calls are long gone. Each year, Riverside firefighters are expected to complete 36 hours of training each year, along with monthly meetings, equipment checks and more.

“It takes a commitment, but it’s manageable,” he said.

For the past few years, Smothers said they have been accepting firefighters who do not live in Riverside. Those individuals are required to spend 40 to 48 hours a month at the fire station.

He said the benefit to having people in the station is huge for call turnout times.

“We’ve seen benefits to that,” he said.

Four people have applied for the positions. Smothers said the openings will be available for the next few weeks before the new volunteers get approval from the City Council.