Relief Training

Many of you may remember the names of Gus Welter and Bob Wetherille from the past. Gus was a retired Bloomington FF, MSFDA Officer and one of the founders of the National Volunteer Fire Council and some say the godfather of volunteer fire pensions in MN. Bob was a retired Minneapolis FF and Secretary of the MSFDA. These two usually put on fire relief training at the annual MSFDA conference in the late 70’s and 80’s. VFRA’s really did not have many other types of training available to them.

Due to the work of many fire organizations and the Office of the State Auditor training became more common. This was necessary because the requirements of VFRA’s were becoming more complex. Because of financial restrictions some of this training becomes less frequent and harder to come by.

It was because of Gus and Bob that I first got involved with learning more about VFRA’s and even became Secretary of the MSFDA to help support the cause of volunteer fire pensions. I also became an instructor in volunteer fire relief operation and representative on the VFRAWG.

I also believe that those of us familiar with volunteer fire relief requirements have a responsibility to pay it forward so to speak. We need to assist volunteer fire relief associations in learning how to do a better job of operating and complying with the requirements of a volunteer fire relief association.

Gus used to prepare a book with the statutes for volunteer fire reliefs that he had made by copying the sections of the statutes. He sold that book for under $5 and some felt he was making a fortune on the sales. I can assure you he did not. In fact Gus used to travel to any FD and assist them in starting a relief association. I have no idea how many he helped, but I am sure it was many in the state. Gus and Bob have passed and I know I am forever grateful for what they did for the Fire Service of MN. 

I certainly can’t afford to travel the state and help reliefs with training for free, like Gus did. I can, however, offer to any relief an opportunity to have me come to their city or town and meet with their board, firefighters and city council members or town boards and discuss the latest statute updates and issues that may be perplexing them. I have done this for many VFRA’s already and found the sessions enlightening. I will do this for just the cost of mileage to and from the location. If any relief or region is interested in this, please contact me by phone or email.

David J. Ganfield