Montana Responder Still Answering Calls at 74

Montana Responder Still Answering Calls at 74

News Dec 07, 2012

Dec. 05--While most septuagenarians take a step back from physically demanding work, volunteer firefighter Jim Meyer, 74, continues to step up and help keep the community safe with the Ferndale Fire Department.

"I was blessed with good health and I just like to work," Meyer said. "I don't like to sit around too long."

As a semi-retired logger, taking it easy during his golden years isn't on Meyer's agenda.

Although, he said he runs out of wind sooner and doesn't have the same level of endurance that he had when he first started fighting fires in his early 50s.

He credits three things with keeping him active with the Ferndale Fire Department.

"Probably the main reason is because of the good department we have and the good bunch of guys and I like to help the community too," Meyer said.

Good health and the desire to help his neighbors is all it takes to keep Meyer going, there's no secret or special diet for keeping up with the rigors of firefighting. Meyer's plate is filled with elk steak, potatoes, gravy, bacon, eggs, and pancakes.

"There's nothing wrong with a cinnamon roll for breakfast," Meyer said with a chuckle.

For 15 years, the Ferndale Fire Department wasn't his only way of helping with local emergencies; he was also a volunteer EMT Intermediate with the Bigfork Quick Response Unit.

"It is a good feeling, and that is what keeps everyone in the ambulance I think," Meyer said. "You really feel good about keeping someone alive or helping them with a broken leg or digging them out of a car wreck."

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Now he focuses on his duties as one of three captains on Ferndale's crew of 14 volunteers. As a captain, his role is to make sure each fire is approached in an organized manner. He also assists in transporting water to fire calls and attends two monthly training sessions and a business meeting.

Meyer worked as a logger in the Swan until he returned to his hometown of Ferndale in 1988-89.

"I had been away quite a while and wanted to get acquainted with the neighbors and help with the community," Meyer said.

Since then he said the department's approach to training for fires has improved along with the equipment they have at their disposal.

When he started volunteering with the department he was the average age of Ferndale's current crew and didn't think too much about what he would be doing 25 years later. He said he knows he will eventually have to retire, but for now, he plans on continuing his work.

"As long as I am useful, then I will probably hang around unless they chase me off," Meyer said.

Copyright 2012 - Bigfork Eagle, Mont.

Bigfork Eagle, Mont.
Matt Naber
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