By William Farhat Big Sky Fire Department

The Big Sky Fire Department is a combination fire department, meaning that we staff both volunteer and paid members.

To provide prompt emergency response, paid members of the department are on duty 24 hours a day. Each firefighter works a 48-hour shift on duty (two days straight), and then is off duty 96 hours (four days). Each shift consists of a captain and two firefighter-paramedics / emergency medical technicians.

Volunteer firefighters and emergency medical technicians are an important part of our staffing equation. In addition to the obvious contribution they make by helping our community, they also minimize overall costs in order to stretch our budget as far as possible.

The typical (non-critical) emergency medical call can be handled by the paid shift firefighters. But during the winter, when we sometimes have two or three medical calls simultaneously, the volunteers responding from their homes and workplaces are crucial to make our response times quick and appropriate.

More serious incidents, like critical medical calls, motor vehicle accidents with injuries, rescues and fires, require the combined efforts of the shift firefighters and volunteers. BSFD also requests mutual aid from neighboring fire departments during such emergencies, but with response times of 25 to 55 minutes from the next closest agency, BSFD depends on volunteer members to fill its needs.

BSFD is always looking for community members to become volunteers. If you’re interested or have questions, visit bigskyfire.org or the Facebook page for further information.

Chief Farhat became fire chief of Big Sky in September 2011. He can be reached at 995-2100 or wfarhat@bigskyfire.org.