The new training requirements are putting some of the most experienced volunteers in the unique position of either retaking rigorous courses or ending their years of service with a volunteer fire department.
For more than 40 years, Dave Holtzhauer has been a proud member of the Spencerville Invincible Fire Company. Holtzhauer along with a few new recruits from the department are taking the initial 36 hour volunteer firefighting course at Apollo Career Center.
"Well, I done it earlier in my lifetime. Now, I'm going back through it right now to see if I can do it at the age of 61. Right now, the course is kind of rough on me," said Holtzhauer.
Holtzhauer was originally certified at the age of 18. But recent changes implemented by the state require volunteer firefighters to take an extra 54 hours of continuing education courses every three years to remain certified. Holtzhauer accidentally got behind on the training and his certification expired.
Hollander and other veteran volunteers are supposed to receive notification from the state to remind them when their three year training timeline is nearing its end.
"The state says they will email ya or send ya a letter. We've got guys saying they don't get either one, and that's the problem," said Chief Dave Evans, Spencerville Invincible Fire Company.
Holtzhauer decided to become re-certified, but other veterans in the same situation weren't up for the challenge.
"Most of them decided, well they were my age or maybe as a little older, and they didn't want to take the course over,"
So now, Holtzhauer is taking the Saturday training courses with guys less than half his age.
"Going through the tube was a little interesting-- tight corners. There was a spot where you had to crawl across a pretend rafter which made you leery because you only have two little 2x4's you're crawling across," said Derrick Eutsler, Spencerville Invincible Fire Company.
Most in the class can't wait to enter a burning building for the first time.
"That's definitely going to be the most exciting part," said Eutsler.
But Holtzhauer has done that. Now he is driven more by the sense of camaraderie.
"Once it gets in your system, it's hard to give up something," said Holtzhauer.
If re certified, Holtzhauer plans to help at fire scenes by filling less physically demanding roles such as changing air tanks and driving the truck.
In the final part of The Heat is On, more on the dangers and rewards of joining a volunteer fire department.