As a CCFR firefighter for more than 12 years, Mike Barter came to the rescue of hundreds of local residents in need. As much as he had a love of the fire service, Barter says he had a calling from a higher authority.
Barter retired from CCFR at the end of January to take the position as pastor at the First Baptist Church of Vandalia. “I miss the excitement of and camaraderie of being a firefighter, but I am at peace that I am where God wants me to be, even though it meant leaving my comfort zone,” says Barter.
Barter’s days are now spent meeting with parishioners and planning twice-weekly sermons. The Board of Directors honored Barter for his service at a meeting in February. “Mike was a great asset to our department and the community, we will miss having him at Central County” says Chief Russ Mason. “But, it is wonderful to see him answering his lifelong calling.”
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Some come from generations of firefighting, others wanted to serve the community where they grew up, but one thing the six new CCFR firefighters have in common is the desire to help people in their time of need.
The new positions were made possible through the SAFE-T (Securing A Future of Excellence – Together) plan. A main component of the plan was improving staffing levels to meet national standards. NFPA (The National Fire Protection Association) recommends each fire truck be staffed with a minimum of four firefighters.
Since January, CCFR has been able to bring six new firefighter/EMTs on board. “The additional staff helps us provide better responses to emergencies in our community,” says Chief Russ Mason. These additional positions are bringing CCFR closer to the NFPA standards.
The new firefighters have a diverse background and joined the fire service for a variety of reasons. Jeremy Loehrer explains the family history behind his choice to join CCFR, “I was raised around the firehouse and always wanted to be a firefighter to uphold the honor that comes with the job which my father had done throughout my childhood.”
Each of the new firefighters goes through a three-month training and mentorship program within CCFR before joining an engine company. Each day the group is learning the ins and outs of becoming a firefighter/EMT. “My favorite part of the job is getting to be face to face with the public. Making a difference in people’s lives, hopefully for the better,” says James Hill.
They are also experiencing the camaraderie that comes with being a member of the CCFR team, “We have a very tight brotherhood that we share as firefighters,” explains Nick Leone.
Following the completion of their training period the new firefighters will be stationed throughout the District.