Missouri has only all-volunteer fire department at state fair in the country

Volunteer firefighters from Paris and Madison will help keep people attending the annual Missouri Stare Fair in Sedalia safe during its Aug. 10-20 run.

Cy Fields, a volunteer with the Paris Fire Department, spent the weekend in Sedalia, working with other firefighters around the state to ensure the fire department is more than prepared for opening day. It is Fields’ sixth trip to the fair.

Field said that nine people from Paris are scheduled to volunteer this year. Fields serves at the fair as the captain of the communications center.

“This is the only state fair with an all-volunteer fire department,” he said. “It is a major undertaking.”

Larry Jones, chief of Madison Volunteer Fire Department, said that his department will provide two or three firefighters this year – including himself.

“Firefighters volunteer to do it for the fair because they like the camaraderie of the people and working with other firefighters,” he said. “It is a special time. I have participated for the last 10 years.”

Fields and Jones said that the heat issues are almost always an issue for attendees, although the volunteers have been called to fight structure and vehicle fires, treat injured sustained during competitions and heart attacks, just to name a few.

“We had one when there were three cardiac events in the same day,” Fields said. ‘We’ve even delivered a few babies at the fair.”

In 2016, the volunteers averaged 75 per day to manage and care for all the fair visitors. There were five ALS ambulances and four engines ready to respond over the 10 days of the fair. Responders provide patients care free of charge for the fair visitors, said Fields.

Fields said that first-responders are typically in demand during concerts and major opening-weekend events kept us busy with the heat for opening weekend. The Missouri Association of Firefighters said that in 2016, the firehouse was a big for children wanting to see the equipment and Smokey the Bear.

But first responders are not the only volunteers. Fields mother, Angie, who the president of the Mark Twain Old Threshers Reunion, will be at the fair, cooking meals for firefighters and other first-responders.

“Last year, we cooked for at least 275-300 people a day,” she said.