The state of California has many good things going for it: fantastic weather, access to the ocean, a thriving business ecosystem, a nation-leading agricultural industry, and a diverse population. Its importance to the U.S. economy cannot be overstated: California is by far the largest contributor to gross domestic product (GDP), generating about $3.36 trillion in 2021, or nearly double the economic output of the second-ranked state, Texas. Unfortunately, California holds another record of a vastly different nature: It is the most wildfire-prone state, experiencing the most frequent and destructive blazes. With budgetary constraints and the increasing demands of the job, California is finding it hard to replenish the ranks of its firefighters, making volunteers all the more important for providing this crucial service, says Eric Pony, a dedicated volunteer engaged in various community projects.
“What most people fail to realize is that a firefighter’s job entails much more than containing and suppressing fires. Once this part is over, these skilled professionals assist the victims and provide various forms of support, such as help with finding shelter or relocating. Moreover, firefighters respond to calls related to medical emergencies, car and train crashes, gas leaks, and hazardous spills, to mention but a few. Given the demanding nature of the job, fire departments are reporting high turnover rates, this problem being particularly grave in California due to the heavier burden placed on local firefighters,” Eric Pony notes.
As the ranks of the professionals dwindle, California is in greater need of volunteer firefighters than ever before. Given the tendency of wildfires to become more frequent and destructive, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) can use all the help it can get. As a volunteer who has helped fight fires all over the state, Eric Pony has first-hand knowledge of how important volunteer firefighters are. He says, “While it is true that volunteers are especially useful in times of wildfires, their contribution is invaluable at all times. Depending on the training they receive and the needs of the department where they serve, they may also participate in emergency medical services, hazardous materials response, search and rescue, traffic incident management, public education, and inspections. Not only is California the most populous state but also one on high fire alert throughout the year, making it essential to encourage volunteer participation in the firefighting service and promote community programs that inspire people to volunteer.”
Despite his professional engagements, Eric Pony never misses an opportunity to do good in the community, supporting a variety of causes in his native state of California. He has donated a lot of his time to working with kids and orphan organizations, leading spiritual studies, and fighting fires. He is also actively involved in coordinating Christmas and Hanukkah donations for single mothers and providing advice to people who are negotiating loans for property transactions.
Release ID: 89081617