Using Technology to Support a Small Town Fire Department

Using Technology to Support a Small Town Fire Department
TL;DR: We set up a Patreon page for the Squires Volunteer Fire Department. Donate to it if you can – even just $10/month goes a long way to serve this poor, rural community in Missouri.

My family and I recently visited Michael Schiff, a BizOps leader who lives in Squires, MO and has been helping Armory scale. Squires is a small town in a very rural part of Missouri nestled in the beautiful Ozarks (yes, like in the show). He took us to see the volunteer fire department, comprised of 100% non-paid volunteers, that services 1,000 properties and an area covering hundreds of square miles. We were met by Travis the fire chief, and CJ, a young firefighter, who let the kids get hands-on with tours of fire engines and firefighting gear.

What struck me was how much they do with so little. They serve a poor, rural community in Missouri. They don't receive any tax dollars to function. All money comes from voluntary dues, donations, and the occasional grant.

Unfortunately, this leaves them in the following situation:

  • Many of the volunteer firefighters respond to calls in unsafe gear and/or incomplete sets due to lack of availability. For example, Schiff's gear is older than 10 years which by NFPA standards means he shouldn’t even be wearing it.
  • Their “apparatus” (trucks, pumps, etc) are in constant need of maintenance just to get them to function day-to-day. To keep the cost down, most of the work is done by the firefighters themselves.
  • They lack necessary life-saving medical equipment. Their AED/defibrillator needs new pads and they currently don’t even have the pads for an infant emergency. They are always in need of replenishing medical supplies such as gloves, masks, bandages and cleaning supplies. Right now, most of this is purchased by the firefighters themselves, otherwise they would not have it.

The impact technology has made:

When I visited and saw how scrappy they have to be just to serve their community, I was immediately motivated to figure out how to apply technology to help. Creating this Patreon page was an easy way to do it.

One of the reasons I'm so enthusiastic about Patreon is how it creates a "value exchange flywheel": The Squires fire department creates "behind the scenes" content showing their Patrons what it's like to serve in a volunteer fire department, and people can, in turn, support them financially to enable more of this kind of content to be created.

If you've got young kids like I do, anything related to firefighting is fascinating content they can't wait to consume. My wife and I are proud to be supporting Schiff and the Squires Volunteer Fire Department through Patreon, and the bonus we get is happy kids that get to virtually experience what life as a firefighter in Squires, MO is like. It's a win-win, and I invite you to join us as a Patron so you can experience it, too.

So this is where both Schiff and I humbly ask for your help. His request is that you please consider supporting the Squires Volunteer Fire Department in any of a few different ways:

  • Patreon: The fire department is adding videos showing what it’s like to work in a volunteer fire department. Please send them your suggestions on what content you'd like to see them create, and consider becoming a Patreon at even just $10/month.
  • Donate - Via Venmo: Search for Michael-Schiff-Mo (last 4 digits = 5777)
  • Support their Registry: Purchase items off this Amazon Wish List.
  • Set Your Amazon Smile Account to Squires Volunteer Fire Department.

They are a 501c3, which means all of your donations are tax-deductible.

Here’s the difference you can make:

  • $8 buys a Squires, MO resident a smoke detector. Many residents don't have them in their homes/mobile homes.
  • $15 buys an emergency vest or a safety hammer to break windows
  • $28 buys a pack of traffic emergency lights for one of their trucks
  • $70 buys a fire extinguisher or a “flapper” used to extinguish brush fires
  • $125 buys a safety light for a first responder
  • $250 pays their fuel bill for a month
  • $500 buys a set of AED/Defibrillator pads (like the infant set they need)
  • $2,200 buys a set of turnout gear for a first responder (so Schiff doesn't have to keep wearing expired gear)
  • $10,000 buys a fire truck. An old, used fire truck, but much better than what they have now. (Armory recently donated funds to do just this)

Here are a few more pics from our visit:

"The Beast" – one of the fire trucks used to fight forest fires in the hilly terrain
Travis, the fire chief, showing off the new fire truck that Armory helped fund
Schiff letting me try on his (very heavy) firefighting equipment
CJ, a 19-year-old firefighter, making flower necklaces with my daughter