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Editorial: Do you have what it takes? Some do

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Fifteen young recruits have said and shown that, indeed, they do have what it takes to become River Falls firefighters. Our story in this week's Journal goes over the arduous training and commitment required of those beginning firefighters.

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Fire Chief Scott Nelson also stressed dedication along with the need for understanding and support from the family members of all firefighters.

Back in the early 1990s, Nelson came upon a notice posted on a bulletin board in a small-town grocery in Vermont. The headline read: Do you want to be a firefighter?

Nelson says today's firefighters are better trained and operate more safely than two decades ago, but job requirements are unchanged. Here are some telling excerpts from that small-town firefighter posting:

"Many persons have ambitions from early childhood to join a fire department sometime during their lifetime...(Firefighters perform) many tasks including all those jobs he or she does when responding to an alarm or emergency -- cleaning up and maintaining equipment and apparatus after a fire, loading trucks with hose, and other functions of the department.

"Much of the work you will perform will be menial, dirty and fatiguing during hot or freezing cold weather. Many of the jobs required follow a long hot fire but the apparatus has to be readied for the next alarm.

"The greatest portion of a firefighter's time off the fire ground is spent training, drilling, reviewing and preparing to handle all types of fires and emergencies.

"A firefighter who fails to train is a hazard to themselves and their fellow firefighters. The job of being a firefighter is not one of glory but rather one of great personal satisfaction that you helped a neighbor or friend whose life or property might otherwise have been destroyed.

"If all the information provided (here) has discouraged you, forget it, don't apply! It's the truth and we want you to know it now.

"However if our honest portrayal of the role of firefighter...has not discouraged you, contact us at the fire station for an application."

For those new River Falls Fire Department recruits who've made the commitment, and for the RFFD members who have been at it for some time, our community should be very grateful.

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