PARKLAND, WI — Being chief of any fire department is not an easy job, but when firefighters work on voluntary basis — like they do at the Parkland Fire Department — challenges can ignite in more ways than one.
“There’s a reason we don’t have volunteer police officers, garbage men, whatever,” Parkland Fire Department Chief Lane Halverson said. “People can only give so much of their time when without expecting to be paid.”
Because of Wisconsin’s new set of rules, which requires firefighters to go through additional training in order to climb the promotional ladder, Chief Halverson may have to fight his biggest fire yet.
“My biggest worry is that I’m going to lose firefighters,” Halverson said. “There’s only so much you can ask from people and their time.”
Under the new changes, those wanting to be drivers and equipment operators will need to take an additional 60 hours of schooling.
“You might have a person who’s working 60 hours a week, and then having to have them go to classes every night,” Halverson said.
Officers will have to clear up 42 hours to get their Firefighter 2 certification, and 80 hours to take two separate classes after that.
“You have to be in this for the good of your community because it does take up quite a bit of your time,” Halverson said.
Chief Halverson has his worries, but with over three decades of experience under his belt, he remains hopeful for the next generation of firefighters.
“I’m not going to do this forever and I certainly hope we have some young person who gets all of the certifications and is able and certified to take my position,” Halverson said. “I’d be more than happy to train them and I’d be stepping out of their way.”