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Volunteer Fireman Rob Ross

Rob Ross volunteers as a fireman in his spare time.
Rob Ross, Volunteer Fireman

Some people choose to help others and potentially put their life on the line as a profession - but did ya realize that some people do it on top of their regular jobs? Lots of cities and towns across North America have volunteer firemen who do what they can to aid our fire departments and our communities. Here's the scoop on one of those volunteer heroes.

The Hero
Rob Ross is 30 years old and has been volunteering with the Ottawa (Canada) Fire Department for a year now. Rosco, as his friends call him, has always been into helping others and his community. While in college, he was a Resident Advisor in the campus dorms, so continuing volunteer work after college came naturally.

The Job
Most volunteer firefighters, like Rosco, carry a one-way voice pager which goes off whenever there is a call. Rosco listens to the call and then goes to his car to join the firefighters and help out. When he's at the fire station, Rosco, as well as the other volunteer and full-time firemen, are constantly checking apparatuses, trucks and equipment to make sure everything is working properly. "We turn on all equipment such as lights, pumps, sirens and radios and if something is broken we mark it, take it out of service and get it repaired," explains Rosco.

The Big Bad
Rosco enjoys his volunteer job a lot but, as you'd expect, he's had some scary moments. His most recent scare involved what is known as "exposure" - that refers to things that are flamable and close to a fire such as trees, other houses, cars, etc. Last month the scare involved propane tanks next to a burning house. "We noticed that on one side of the house they had two big propane tanks," Rosco explains. "So, as I was trying to put out the fire, another group of firefighters were hosing down the propane tank to keep it cool so it wouldn't explode. It obviously worked because I am here talking to you."

The Fun
Rosco says that although the joke about rescuing cats from trees isn't common, firemen (including volunteers) help out a lot in the community. In the spring they sometimes help people with flooded basements because they have special pumps. They also participate in community events like parades.

September 11th
The events of Sept. 11th affected firemen around the world and Rosco's Ottawa Department was no exception. "September 11th brought a lot of pride back into our department. We realized that other firefighters work in very dangerous places and do some extraordinary things. It brought us all closer together," Rosco explained.


The Cash
Rosco is a volunteer firefighter so his pay is basically just to cover his expenses. Rosco makes $10 an hour (Approx. $5.50 US) with a minimum of two hours per call. But there are other benfits besides cash like bonding with fellow fighters and attention from girls, "Chicks dig it," Rosco smiles.

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When is National Volunteer Month?

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