Etna Fire and Rescue to Become a Volunteer Department 

Etna Fire and Rescue is looking forward to some changes. “One thing that we’re in dire need of right now is updated turnout gear,” explained Fire Chief Shawn Ryder.But to update their gear and equipment, the firefighters suggested another big change. They’d been talking about it for about a year and finally decided to approach the town about changing to a volunteer department. During Saturday’s town meeting, residents voted to approve the change.”I think we’re all a little nervous to make sure that we’re doing the right thing. Because first off, we don’t want to mess up anything for the town,” said Walter Gibbons, Etna Fire and Rescue EMS Director and an Etna Town Selectman.The 20-member crew has been a municipal department since the early 90’s. But since then they’ve realized there are some benefits to volunteer status. When they apply for grants, they have to take into account the town’s budget. “We haven’t been able to receive any grants because of the surplus the town does have,” said Ryder.The firefighters are also looking forward to having more control over the department’s operations.”It relieves the town of the responsibility and puts the responsibility on the Fire Department,” said Ryder.It will be more work for some of the firefighters who will be assuming roles on the department’s board of directors, and it will mean they won’t receive the stipend they’re used to.But they hope in the long run this change, which goes into effect on July 1, will be positive one for their department and the town they serve.Ryder said, “I hope the change will be that we’ll improve.”