Fire season is here and Kevin Henke, Fire Chief of the Dupuyer Volunteer Fire Department (DVFD), is hoping he and his crew will have the manpower needed to respond to any wildfires or harvest-caused flare-ups. The DVFD has a small, dedicated crew but Henke, who has served as fire chief for over 20 years, has been trying to recruit more to the small department.
“We currently have eight to 10 firemen on the department, with four who consistently show up,” said Henke. The ages of those men range from 20 years old to 70, he added.
Members of the DVFD include: Henke and his wife, Charlene, assistant chief Bill Breding and his wife, Loretta, Dusty Blockeel, Stephanie Blockeel, Korey Thomas, Kevin Thomas, Kaden Thomas, Jim McCarthy, John Rappold, Marvin Johnson, Paul Johnson and Ross Drishinski. Alumni members who help with fundraising efforts include Dick Daily, Val Adams and Ed Parcaoi.
Henke and his fellow volunteer firemen believe a full crew would be 20 to 25 volunteers.
Henke said the qualifications to be a volunteer fireman are few. The DVFD is open to both men and women who:
•Possess a valid drivers license;
•Have a clean driving record;
•Work well with others;
•And are “physically apt.”
Henke’s wife, Charlene, and Loretta Breding are both key volunteers for the department. “We have driven for the guys when they need us to. We drive the trucks and they run the equipment,” explained Charlene.
Their volunteer duties don’t end there.
“On any fire that lasts for more that just a few hours, we take food and drinks out to the firemen,” she continued. Two years ago when the DVFD and other local and area fire departments, including the Department of Natural Resources and Conservation and the U.S. Forest Service, were battling the Strawberry Creek fire, they provided meals to the crews. “We took two meals a day out for two days to those firemen.”
Charlene added, “We also handle organizing the annual fundraising pancake breakfast during Dupuyer Grizzly Day.”
For the last few years, proceeds from the breakfast have been earmarked to expand the current fire hall so that all the trucks can be stored inside. “Currently, the firemen have to drain the tanker in the winter because we do not have a large enough building to store it in,” said Charlene.
Pondera County provides the DVFD with revenue to operate. As volunteers, the firemen receive no compensation but a small retirement stipend can be collected if a fireman serves 20 or more years, provides documentation of training and completes the required paperwork.
If you or someone you know is interested in serving as a volunteer on the Dupuyer Volunteer Fire Department, or if you would like more information, please contact Fire Chief Kevin Henke at (406) 450-1595.