In 1990, the vast majority of the East Fork Fire District's firefighters, nearly 200 strong, were volunteers. When someone's house was on fire or there was some sort of disaster the volunteers were there.
Back then people who lived in Carson Valley worked here, so they were here when something happened.
But during the 1990s the Valley changed. People got older, in part because that's who moved here, or people found jobs out side the Valley.
Meanwhile, the requirements and training for being a volunteer firefighter got a lot more stringent.
That combination cut the number of volunteers who could fight a fire in East Fork Township by more than half. Fortunately, the number of career firefighters increased, but the need for those volunteers is still felt today.
And residents can feel the difference on their tax bills.
The East Fork Fire District costs taxpayers slightly more than half what the Tahoe Douglas Fire District does. Residents served by the Tahoe Douglas district get their money's worth, and even increased tax support to the fire district.
Even if there was a desire to increase tax support to East Fork, the district has hit the state cap, so any tax rate increase would have to come from another district.
But there is a way to support the fire district without additional taxes. Volunteer.
Not everyone who does needs to be fit to be a front-line firefighter. There are lots of things that volunteers can do to help our firefighters, and in so doing, help ourselves.