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Fire Chief believes in ‘paying it forward

Colfax Fire Chief Dennis Lester, other local firefighters making goodwill trip to New York

Published: Monday, Feb. 18, 2013 12:01 p.m. CDT • Updated: Monday, Feb. 18, 2013 12:47 p.m. CDT

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The brotherhood of firefighters is why Dennis Lester, chief of the Colfax Fire Department, and “hopefully” 23 other local firefighters are looking to make a goodwill trip to New York state to help out another fire department in need.

“A lady from New York, after 9/11, started this organization called Firefighters Helping Firefighters,” Lester said. “It’s a non-profit organization that she started by herself, now she has got six paid volunteers helping her. She’s the one that sets up the logistics of it; how many people are coming and placing us depending on our skill set to send us different places to help them out.”

They are still working out the kinks for the trip.

“We think we have a date set, but were still working out details,” Lester said. “Sully (Fire Department) went out there about a month or so ago. The guy’s from Sully went out there and they didn’t really have any organization for the volunteers to come help. They didn’t have organization to tell them what to do, so they were kind of lost.”

Well there may have been confusion at first, Sully’s firefighters helped remodel and old, abandoned fire station which now house up to 24 volunteers when they come to town.

“The volunteers come in there to sleep,” he said. “Then we go our separate days during the day. We would work from sun up to sun down.”

When he was approached about this opportunity, Lester and his guy’s didn’t hesitate.

“Most of the guys on the fire department…that’s why they got on the fire department in the first place, they just wanted to help people,” Lester said. “Firefighters in general just have a bond with each other; we just want to help each other.”

Beside their general need to help people, the brotherhood amongst firefighter, including one’s they’ve never met before, is another reason they are eager to take part in this trip.

“It’s like we’ve know each other forever,” Lester said. “When we had the floods in 08 here, we were strapped to the gills just trying to do what needed to be done. We literally weren’t in the position to fight fires or run ambulance calls. We had firefighters from New Sharon and all over volunteer to come down and just man our station to take over our ambulance and fire calls if we had any. They came to our aid when we needed them, so it’s just kind of a pay it forward deal.”

Staff writer Ty Rushing may be contacted at (641) 792-3121, ext. 426, or at trushing@newtondailynews.com.

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