I’m Dan Retzlaff, creator of The Forward Firefighter Podcast.  I’ve been active in the fire service since 2001, but my love for the culture of firefighting began as a young kid, growing up as a next door neighbor to our small town’s Fire Chief.  The fire station was across the street, and I’d watch as the trucks rolled out for calls, sirens blaring.  I couldn’t wait to be a part of it.

My family ended up moving to a larger city before I was old enough to join.  A few years later, I married my wife Becky, and we moved to Columbus, WI.  At the time, you had to be 21 to join, so I filled out the paperwork and waited for that birthday to come.

20+ years later, the sirens still pump up my adrenaline, but due to resignations and retirements, recruitment and retention is a nationwide problem in the fire service.  It’s tough to fill the roster spots, and tougher to keep them filled. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) reports* that 65% of firefighters are volunteers and 90% of fire departments depend on volunteers.  Volunteer fire departments are the backbone of their communities and respond to all kinds of emergencies. 

I’m hoping the podcast can fill a couple of roles.  I’d like it to highlight the desperate need we have in every community nation-wide for men and women to serve in this way.  I’d also like it to serve as a networking opportunity so that outside my small circle here in Columbus, the knowledge, tips and tricks of others can inspire those who currently serve to keep doing so, and to keep improving their skills and training so that we all can serve together, longer.

Listen on your favorite streaming platform, tell others about it, and let me know what you think.  Email me at theforwardfirefighter@gmail.com.

* https://www.nvfc.org/nvfc-receives-federal-grant-to-support-volunteer-firefighter-recruitment-and-retention/