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Story ideas 9.12.10

I almost hate to admit it, but some of my best story ideas come while cruising and dreaming or hitting garage sales. At the latter remember – you have to TALK to people to get information.

So at a garage sale just down the street I ran into a friendly guy and we were wandering and checking out the stuff he had for sale when another neighbor yelled out, “Hey why don’t you put your fire stuff out!”

He had me right there…as a dusty old bag was pulled out and there it was! Nomex! You wouldn’t understand unless you’ve been in a forest fire. Fire retardant clothing. Bright yellow. Outrageous. Brought back memories.

Turns out Tony was a former volunteer firefighter. A dying profession. It seems that rural fire departments in my area are no longer allowing volunteers to man the trucks and hoses and haven’t been for some time.

Used to be in the outback areas if you wanted to fight fire, you had to do it yourself. Many of the men in the community would sign up and at the sound of the bell (or phone) they’d drop everything and head to the smoke (or accident). For a while I remember there being an issue with not enough volunteers. And now this.

Story idea: what is the status of volunteer firefighting in YOUR rural areas? Is it still thriving or has it died out due to lack of volunteers or (worse yet) bureaucracy?

And speaking of volunteerism, how easy is it for folks to volunteer at schools in your community? Now I just retired from teaching a little over three months ago – and when I went back on campus the first few times it was okay but then – WHAM! The doors slammed shut and I was told I needed to complete a volunteer form and get fingerprinted. Same for my daughter who at 18 was a recent grad of the school and had been training the school’s color guard for nearly a mont.

Problem? They slammed down so hard and fast that no one know what we needed to do exactly to get the paperwork done. Some kind soul finally figured it out and got the proper forms up to the front desk. And the district finally confirmed that yes my fingerprints from teaching were still good…but now my daughter has to PAY to volunteer. Sweet.

Story idea: with all of the cutbacks to schools and complaints they don’t get enough help – are they making it hard or easy for folks to volunteer? What kind of barriers are set up or what kinds of incentives are given to help out?

Enjoy the week – I’m on the road again.

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