In a dark, cold bay at Newcastle Fire Station One, Captain Tanner Anderson watches a group of 12 men unfold a large, yellow tarpaulin tub on the concrete floor.
Anderson doesn’t speak loudly, but when he does, every head in the room turns to pay attention.
“Remember, things hardly ever work out the way we train,” Anderson says to the group.
With the exception of Anderson, every person in the vehicle bay on this cold March night is a volunteer, one of 18 listed volunteers with the Newcastle Fire Department. On the first Monday of every month, the department’s volunteer firefighters attend mandatory training sessions, such as this one teaching them how to use equipment to transfer water from tankers to engines in remote areas without access to fire hydrants. Later in the evening, the volunteers also take part in medical training.
For the volunteers, the training is just one part of a job they do for many different reasons, be it love for the work, a sense of civic duty or a desire for experience. One thing volunteers never do the job for is money; volunteer firefighters receive only an $11 stipend for each call they respond to.