Get to know your fellow NVFC members!
MELINDA NEFF - MERCER RURAL FIRE PROTECTION DISTRICT, ND
Melinda Neff has served as assistant fire chief for the Mercer Rural Fire Protection District in ND for almost a year now. She previously volunteered for a department in OR and when she moved to ND, she was asked to volunteer again! Her husband also volunteers and Charlie, her service-dog-in-training, serves as the department mascot, so as Melinda says, it's a family affair.
What came as the biggest surprise to you after you began volunteering?
Being accepted and respected was a pleasant surprise, not because I am a female, but because I was born with a hearing loss. To be accepted was huge for me.
What advice do you give new volunteers?
There are many different things you can do as a volunteer. The most important thing is to have the compassion to help others.
How has COVID affected your department?
When COVID hit, it really got us. I quickly looked at CDC rules for first responders and laid out what we needed to do. Now we have those rules in place and we have PPE. We also utilize online training in areas like traffic safety and continuing education. Online training also helps us catch up on new information from the U.S. Fire Administration, IAFC, IFFA, and the North Dakota Firefighter Association.
How has the NVFC helped you as a volunteer?
The NVFC has helped me gain support and to obtain the education I need to make me better in my job. It's also allowed me to share my knowledge with others.
How does your department promote wellness among volunteers?
They really didn’t until I came along and started talking about it. Now I'm trying to lead by example by training for the Firefighter Combat Challenge this summer.
What keeps you occupied when you're not working or volunteering?
I enjoy fishing, hunting, competition shooting, boxing, and weightlifting.