As a Branch Manager, there are days that feel like all you are doing is putting out fires. By the end of the day, those fires may be put out or at least contained until coming back the next morning. However, when Paul Hansen, Branch Manager of our Plentywood bank, leaves for the day, he steps into a completely different role of “putting out fires.” He is a volunteer firefighter for Sheridan County and has been one for the past 13 years.
What motivated you to become a volunteer firefighter?
“I was asked to volunteer by several veteran firefighters when I first moved to Plentywood. After careful consideration, I decided to join because I knew the department was short-handed and needed people to step up and serve.”
What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced while volunteering?
“Making sure you get the required training hours for the year can be a challenge. There are times when training is scheduled after a long day at work or on the weekend.”
What has been your favorite memory (or most frightening memory) volunteering?
Favorite: “As a volunteer firefighter, you build a bond with your fellow firefighters. Our department has bankers, truck drivers, farmers, and mechanics from all kinds of backgrounds. It’s rewarding to come together and work towards the common goal of keeping our communities and each other safe.”
Frightening: “You really can’t describe what it’s like to put on an air pack and go into a burning house. You can’t see your hand in front of your face, it’s hot, and you’re trying to determine where the fire is or if anyone is inside. You’re relying on your training, equipment and team to get the job done and get out safely.”
What achievement or contribution are most proud of?
“Funding is limited for the fire department and our equipment needs to be updated to stay in compliance with safety standards. I’ve been a part of writing several successful grants and fundraisers that have provided much needed money to help with these purchases.”
How has volunteering changed you?
“When you go out on a call, whether a grass fire, house fire, or car accident, the people involved are having maybe their worst day ever. There is a feeling of pride and achievement when you can save their crop or pasture, keep their house from burning, or safely remove them from a wrecked car. It makes all the training worth it.”
Any other thoughts on being a volunteer firefighter?
“There is a national shortage of volunteer emergency responders (fire, EMS, etc.) so if anyone has the interest and dedication, I would really encourage them to contact your local department and volunteer. It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it.”
We tip our hat to Paul and all the volunteer fire fighters and emergency responders who help keep our state safe.