Why They Joined
In 2016 we moved to Shaver Lake, intending to retire here. When I retired a couple of years later, I attended a meeting of the Shaver Lake Civic League, because I wanted to be more involved in our community. To my surprise, they asked me to join the board, and soon after, the Fire Department. I found both to be rewarding, but especially the Fire Department, where a camaraderie developed between our members. When the Creek Fire struck, that comradeship became a true brotherhood where we not only watched out for and protected each other, but we knew Company 60 was giving back to our neighbors and friends as well. While that fire was a singular, life changing event, the everyday operations of the Shaver Lake Fire Department continue to have significance to us and to the community as well. Our calls include wildland and structure fires, rescues, motor vehicle accidents and extrications, and power line and gas line failures. However, upwards of 65% of page-outs are medical, which can be one of our most meaningful interactions with the public, both residents and visitors. The community is always passing their thanks along to our members for everything that we do, and that is the biggest reward of all. This has been the very best career change of my life, even though it is unpaid. I don’t think I have ever been involved in something as important and worthwhile as serving Shaver Lake as a Volunteer Fire Department member.
My son and I joined the SLFD in the spring of 2023. Initially I was planning to join solo to give back to my community part time. Almost 5 months later my reasons for joining have completely changed. I still believe in giving back to my community, however, the camaraderie and professionalism, the trust, the friendships built with the other SLFD volunteers and the strengthened relationship between my son and I joining together, the experience and time has been priceless and life changing. I now volunteer at full-time status.
I was in my sophomore year of college and I was looking for a way to give back to the community. I had friends who had volunteered for various fire departments and I decided it was something I wanted to try out. So I tried to join the department—but I was initially turned away as I didn’t live in Shaver full time. But then I started ski patrolling and spending a significant amount of time at Shaver and they let me in. I’ve stayed with the department mostly because of the comradery and because I really enjoy making a difference in somebody’s day, as well as the adrenaline rush when going on a call. When I started I had no experience in the medical field and didn’t have any fire skills but over the last 4-5 years I’ve become a Nationally Registered EMT, as well as Fireline EMT. I have many other certifications such as felling logs [on a fire], and rope skills for low angle-rescue and plan to continue my education in these areas.
About 6 years ago I was approached by a member of the Shaver Lake Volunteer FD to ask if I would be interested in becoming a volunteer. I only agreed to go to a training and orientation session because I thought it would help get approval for a cabin project I was working on in my subdivision, and the person inviting me was also on my HOA board. After meeting the crew and seeing their enthusiasm I became more curious. I saw commitment, professionalism, and challenges that piqued my interest. These folks were serious and no one was being paid! Needless to say I was impressed.
I was retired and in need of a change in my life. I was always a person who wanted to grow more through challenges and also help out my community in some way since I lived up here full time. Before I could say yay or nay I was hooked. Almost immediately I was outfitted with a uniform, pager, radio, wildland and structure gear.
I went on as many calls and trainings as I could. I remember saying it was probably easier to learn to pilot a 747 than to learn and operate all the different equipment, engines and controls, medical bags, tools, and radio procedures associated with becoming a Firefighter. I quickly discovered that there was way more to being a Firefighter than just fighting fires! The epitome of my time with the SLVFD was the honor and privilege of being on the front line of the monstrous Creek Fire of 2020 and participating in working with up to 1650 fire fighters to fight for and save my beloved community.
I must say I have never regretted for a minute my decision to join the SLVFD.
Becoming a Fire Fighter and Emergency Medical Responder has made me a better individual but has also given me the incredible opportunity to be a part of the cherished comradery that is so prevalent in our department.
I joined the SLVFD just after the Creek Fire—July 4, 2021 was my first day on the job. I greatly regret not having joined earlier. In the fall of 2020, my wife, Heather, and I were relatively new owners of a property here in Shaver. When the Creek Fire hit, I watched nightly reports on TV, including our current Chief, Steve McQuillan, explaining the daily actions of SLVFD as they helped save the community.
I was more than a bit upset with myself for not having joined (understanding that you can’t just show up unannounced with a garden hose and say “I’m ready to help”). I didn’t want to be stuck watching on TV again and decided to join before the next fire season—thinking at the very least it would help with my research on wildfire risk and forest management. I’ve stayed with the SLVFD because of the rewarding work, the highly professional trainings, the excellent leadership from current and past Chiefs and Captains, and the terrific people that I get to work with. It’s far and away among the best and most rewarding experiences of my life.
I volunteered for several reasons. First, I wanted to be of service to my community.
But I also like to be where the action is and I like hanging out with Heroes, who challenge me to do and be more than I am.
I joined the SLVFD just after Creek Fire. When I drove up to Shaver for the first time after the fire, looking at the damage that occurred to our forest & structures, I was blown away.
I work at a gas station in Shaver lake & after work I had nothing especially productive to utilize my free time and energy, so I made up my mind to join the Shaver Lake Fire Department, so that I could be helpful to my community. I was not born in the United States, and the new medical and emergency system is new to me, but being part of such a great team, everything has gone very well, with such ease. I feel proud to help my community & to know them better.
Griffin St Hilaire
I joined the Shaver Lake Volunteer Fire Department as a way to get involved in the community. I work as an ER nurse and as a Ski Patroller at China Peak and so I thought it would be a good way to use my medical experience to give back to the community. I have really enjoyed meeting the rest of the department and getting together every week for training. I have a background in medicine but have really enjoyed learning about fire science.
I have always had an inclination to volunteer throughout the years. I like to be of service so when the suggestion came to join the SLVFD it sounded like a good opportunity. I really didn’t know anything about firefighting so I wasn't sure I could do it. However, I came to find out SLVFD has a great training program to educate its members for just about every situation one might run up against.
This training has given me the knowledge and confidence to feel comfortable when responding to calls. SLVFD has an upstanding group of men and women who are dedicated to helping and serving others and I am amazed by their level of commitment. There is something different about this type of volunteering that is truly gratifying as we are helping people with real needs with real problems. I am proud to be part of the SLVFD.
I volunteered because we love the mountains. I am a Sierra High graduate and my mom still lives in Prather. After the Creek Fire I just thought it could have been much worse if not for the heart of the many volunteers and the other Firefighters that put themselves aside for a greater cause.