LaPlace Volunteer Fire Department looking to fill big shoes

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 8, 2006


Staff Reporter

LAPLACE-Passion, dedication, integrity, and courage. That’s what LaPlace volunteer fire department has plenty of. What they don’t have is enough people to help protect citizens from fires and assist with medical emergencies.

The volunteers of the LaPlace Volunteer Fire Department all have one thing in common, the desire and drive to reach out to the community and help the citizens of LaPlace.

&#8220I volunteer with the department because of the pride I feel for myself when I put on that uniform,” said Ashley Detiller.

&#8220My dad was also a firefighter so in a way, I guess I wanted to be like him too,” Detiller said.

&#8220My kids and my wife think I am a hero, but I do it because I just really enjoy it and get a lot of personal satisfaction from being a firefighter,” he said.

&#8220Lots of people mistakenly think that because we have some paid department members, the unit has all paid positions, but that is far from the truth. We have both paid and volunteer positions available,” said John Snyder, fire chief for the LaPlace Volunteer Fire Department.

Doug Wafer, a volunteer for six years said, &#8220When I first came to the department we only had volunteer positions, no paid. I had heard good things about the experience, so I decided to give it a shot. I feel like I am able to give back to the community now.”

&#8220My day job may pay more, but what we do here is making a difference in people’s lives. What we do for a person will make their day better for them because when you need the fire department you are usually having a bad day, so I get personal satisfaction knowing that I will make someone’s life a little easier when they call me,” he said.

Training sessions for rookie firefighters can be brutal. The physical and mental challenges of firefighting require a calm and collected attitude.

Whether testing on safety standards or going through a dark hole on your hands and knees, firefighters must keep their wits about them at all times.

Putting on a fire suit and 40 pounds of air in a tank is grueling to say the least. Couple that with the knowledge that there could be someone in there that needs your help as you fumble through unfamiliar ground to get to them and you get a stressful situation. Firefighters should be commended for putting themselves in a position to do this daily

Dangers include, falling through rafters, weak stairs that could break, and of course the smoke and heat.

Brandon Levet is a trainer for rookie firefighters. &#8220Crawling through a home or building where there is smoke and no light is just part of the job. We do it to try and give back to the community and possibly save a life,” he said.

Joshua Russ is a new recruit and he says he wanted to join the volunteer fire department because he had always been interested in becoming a firefighter.

&#8220I want to do what I can to help people and if I save a life then that just makes it all the better,” he said.

Dawneille Heustis is the only active female volunteer at this time and on her first day of training she said, &#8220I just want to know if I have what it takes. I don’t work and I felt I could do something to give back to the community in my spare time.”

Randy Montz, another new recruit brings other crisis skills into the department too.

He is also a volunteer crisis negotiator from the New Orleans Police Department.

”I enjoy the personal satisfaction I get from helping others in the community. When I feel I am giving back to the community, it is worth it to me,” he said.

He also served on the fire unit in the military.

Other volunteer firefighters have had an interest in firefighting since their youth.

Michael Borne started as a junior firefighter when he was 14 years old. Borne has been an active volunteer for eight years.

&#8220I had been interested in fire trucks since I was small and I felt like it was something I should get into. I guess I got interested in firefighting because my mom’s best friend’s husband was the fire chief and he used to take me out on the truck,” he said.

If you are interested in volunteering with the fire department please call 652-9445.