NewsMontana and Regional News


Wanted: more volunteer firefighters in Cascade County

Volunteer firefighters
Posted at 5:01 PM, May 06, 2024
and last updated 2024-05-06 19:01:53-04

GREAT FALLS — Early May in Montana can bring just about any kind of weather. Sunshine, rain, even snow. One thing is for certain, as the weather does heat up, the possibility of wildfires will increase and the need for volunteer firefighters will continue to grow.

“We are hurting unit here in Cascade County for volunteers and a lot of the fire departments around the area are always begging for people to come in,” said Cascade Volunteer Fire Department Chief Eric Tilleman.

Like many volunteer fire departments across Montana, those in Cascade County could always use more firefighters. It’s not just the front lines where they need the help.

“Even just if we have a big fire, we need people bringing in supplies like some dinners and that just to help us so that we can actually be fighting the fire for longer,” said Tilleman who also serves as the Rural President of the Fire Council in Cascade County. “We need help clean some fire stations and being able to get water out our fire firefighters out on the scene. We've got people that are water tender drivers that at least get the water out to us to where we can go fight it.”

Tilleman says one of the best ways to learn how to help in Cascade County is by reaching out to one of the 17 fire departments who often post their meetings in local papers or on social media.

“The other way you can do it is to go on to the Montana Volunteer Firefighting Serviceand they have a link to where they can get you to those local people just by filling out a survey,” said Tilleman.

Tilleman says with burning season starting to shift into high gear, it's important for people to know the rules which can be found on the Cascade County website. Knowing what can and can’t be burned can save a lot of trouble.

“It will tell you what you can and cannot burn,” said Tilleman. “A couple of the big ones that you cannot burn and we’ve had some issues in the past with are structures, tires, chemicals. Make sure you activate your $10 burn permit and then that lets all the fire departments know that you have an active burn in the area.”

Tilleman also reminds county residents to make sure their houses are properly numbered.

“If you do have a medical emergency or if there's a fire emergency, any emergency services and just having those numbers out where it's visible and everybody can see it, that helps us get there quicker,” said Tilleman.

Whether its helping out as a volunteer, or doing things that help the volunteers, taking action now can prevent headaches down the road.

“We're starting to get into that fire season where we're going to need a lot of people and it's going to be a lot of hours if we get big lightning strikes because we're pretty dry right now,” said Tilleman.