Letter to the Editor: A Chaplain’s Perspective on the Riverside Fire Authority Levy


There is an emergency medical service levy before us to consider. It is up for vote Feb. 9, and I would like to give my perspective. I have had the opportunity to serve with the Riverside Fire Authority since 2013 as a volunteer chaplain. Back then, I was new to the area and involved in starting a new church and starting a family. When the door opened to serve as chaplain within the RFA, I was hesitant to walk through it. My time was limited, and I did not want to get involved in something that was mediocre or heavily bureaucratic with little personal touch. I decided to do some “ride-alongs” to see what kind of organization the RFA was, and I was pleased with what I found.

Time and again, I have found the men and women of the RFA to be genuine in their service and focused on their duty. I was impressed with the constant education that the fulltime and volunteer personnel are involved in. I had imagined that most of the training would involve firefighting scenarios and while there is a lot of training for this, what got my attention was the reading, online courses, regular weekly class training and mentoring I saw take place which sharpened personnel in the areas of medical emergency response. In short, I saw the RFA striving for excellence in all areas of their expertise. And while there is no such thing as a perfect organization, because there is no such thing as perfect people, I was impressed and wanted to get involved.

After becoming a chaplain within the RFA, my respect for the organization has continued to rise. I would encourage anyone with questions about the levy to consider one thing: get to know the Riverside Fire Authority. Visit their website (RiversideFire.net) where you can learn more about your fire department and this levy. Visit a station by scheduling your own “ride-along.” The RFA is open for people to visit the stations and even hop on one of the rigs when the alarm sounds. Of course, COVID-19 protocol has currently hindered this, but you can call to see what is allowable. There is nothing like firsthand experience to help you understand. Think about it. Can you imagine calling 911 and not having EMS available for lack of funding? Please, take the time to understand and know the Riverside Fire Authority. I do believe you will find the same thing I found — a fire authority worth investing in. 


Tim Shellenberger

Riverside Fire Authority Chaplain