STAFF WRITER JENNIFER FIERRO
GRANITE SHOALS — Pasta night just got a lot hotter.
The Granite Shoals Fire Department is hosting a free spaghetti dinner from 5-9 p.m. Friday, June 23, at the fire house, 8410 RR 1431 West.
During the dinner, Granite Shoals Fire Department Chief Austin Stanphill will discuss the department, the equipment, and other needs.
At the top of the list is more volunteers.
“Our call numbers are going up, frequencies are going up, the amount of work is going up,” Stanphill said.
To volunteer, individuals must be at least 18 years old, hardworking, self-motivated, and have clean legal records.
Volunteer firefighters are vital to the department.
“Granite Shoals doesn’t have the funding to pay for a full-time fire department,” the chief said. “Between the (Emergency Services District), Highland Haven, and Granite Shoals, it’s not enough to pay for a full-time staff. That’s why we need more firefighters to step up.”
Along with donations, the department gets funding through the ESD, Highland Haven, and the city of Granite Shoals.
In 2012, the department had 25 volunteer firefighters; today, that number is 15, but not all volunteers fight fires. Some do administrative work, while others help with cleaning and other tasks.
“There are some folks who haven’t been trained or have the physical attributes to fight fires,” City Manager Ken Nickel said.
“People who don’t want to do the physical stuff drive the trucks, work in the auxiliary,” he said. “If we have a 15-member roster, nine show up on a regular basis. Four of those can do structure fires. The others don’t want to fight a structure fire. They want to do something else.”
The department needs people of various skill sets. Volunteers also undergo proper training.
Last year, the Granite Shoals City Council approved having a full-time paid firefighter at the station 24 hours a day. Going into the next fiscal year, the city manager said he’d like to add a second full-time firefighter to have two at the station 24 hours a day.
Volunteers, however, remain a major part of the department.
Stanphill added that people shouldn’t think the spaghetti dinner is just about getting more volunteers. It’s also about meeting residents.
“We want people to feel welcome to come,” Stanphill said. “Even if they don’t want to do anything with the department. We want to meet them. We don’t want to just see them if their house is burning down.”