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29 Palms Volunteer Firefighters Make Big Sacrifice

By   /   May 16, 2012  /   11 Comments

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Kyle McDermott

My name is Kyle McDermott. I have been a volunteer firefighter with the Twentynine Palms Fire Department since December of 2007. As a volunteer firefighter I have been assigned between four and ten 24-hour shifts per month, depending on the scheduling needs to keep apparatus available for emergency response at all times. During my time here, I have had the opportunity to respond to an array of emergency incidents within the community. I have also had the privilege of attending specialized state fire marshal training courses which allow me to build upon my skills to better serve the community I work in and prepare myself for a career firefighter position.

Currently, I travel 230 miles round trip to volunteer my spare time with the community. Though my travel time to and from Twentynine Palms can at times be strenuous, the satisfaction that I get from serving the Twentynine Palms community is well worth it. I take great pride in knowing that my role here is not only vital to the success of the department, but also to the health and well being of the community. Along with the gratification that comes from helping others, the department also offers the rare opportunity to work as one of two volunteer firefighters assigned to a career company officer on a frontline apparatus. This unique experience, in conjunction with the camaraderie and closeness of the department members, is what continues to support me in being a volunteer firefighter with Twentynine Palms.

Brandon Jones

While in my 22nd year of life I was the victim of a house fire. I awoke at 430 am to some sort of explosion in my garage, just below my bedroom. When everything was said and done, the only thing left were the clothes on my back. This was both a curse and a blessing. After escaping the smoke filled house, I was witness to a life changing experience. I watched as the first arriving units go to work laying line and making their initial attack on the fire ripping through my home. Heavy smoke and fire was pouring out the second story windows, the room I had been sleeping in just minutes before! With the arrival of secondary units these firefighters proceeded to aggressively attack the fire and achieved knockdown within minutes. I was in shock. I had never seen such a thing. I had never met any of these people before and they were risking their life for me. I was in awe. And so it was, on a cold, misty March morning with the heat of what my world was on my face I decided to become a Firefighter. I want to do for others what these people had done for me.

From left to right Brandon Jones & Kyle McDermott

Source of photo and story: 29 Palms Fire Department webpage






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About the author

Branson Hunter

(This story was posted by Cactus Thorn contributor Branson Hunter)

"The ends do not justify the means." If you use illegal mean to accomplish a legal and even desirable result, the good result does not make the bad means you used justifiable.


  1. HogWild HogWild says:

    I would like to give a big thumbs up to Mr. Jones and Mr. McDermott. Thanks for all that you do and all that you have done for the community. I’m sure you don’t hear it near often enough but you are sure appreciated.
    Semper Fi

  2. Stanley Stanley says:

    I also would like to give the guy’s a thumbs up. We need them alot. But….I have this question for Kyle. Do you in anyway get re-imbursed for you travel time, like fuel allowances or driving time? 230 miles round trip is quite a drive on you own dime for a meager wage. Inquiring minds want to know. Please respond.

    • Steve Spear Steve Spear says:

      I will find out for you today. If I remember right these volunteers get paid some very small stipend but before I put out a dollar figure let me check with the Chief.

    • Steve Spear Steve Spear says:

      Hi Stanley,

      Here are the numbers for a volunteer firefighter.

      Each Volunteer receives a reimbursement of .43 cents a mile driven up to a maximum of 210 miles for a 24 hour shift.

      So lets take a look at a volunteer that lives 105 miles away and drives a round trip of 210 miles. That would be $90.30 for working a straight 24 hours plus a drive time round trip of lets say 3 hours for a total investment of 27 hours. That would be about $3.34 an hour.

      Lets take a look at a local guy that lives right next door to the Station and does not drive anywhere. That would be zero dollars for a 24 hour shift or zero dollars an hour.

      Even the state Minimum wage of $8.00 an hour is better than this or even the federal minimum wage of $7.24 an hour.

      There you go.

      • Stanley Stanley says:

        Thank you Steve, I was just inquiring. I didn’t need Bransons response on the playhouse, project Pheonix, city manager rant.

  3. By way of example, city staff, city manager and those cryptic fellows on the CC have other important matters to take care of. The fire department will be shutting down the Lear station and laying off a captain, two fire fighters, others and volunteers may get the boot.

    I wonder how morale is at the fire department? The city is hanging the 29 Palms Fire Department out to dry. The City can’t even comment or commit to sending its city manager or councilman to the joint meeting next week to brainstorm on how best to fund the 29 Palms Fire Department to protect its residents.

    Meanwhile… an ego-driven playhouse is more important than public safety and public and private property.

    • The 29 water board and LAFCO’s awhile back schedule a joint meeting concerning the future of the 29 fire department. The meeting is May 24, this Thursday. Guess what?

      NOT ONE of the city council member have made plans to attend the meeting. The have been urged to attend. It seems all five CC members have other plans. The LAFCO member had other plans too, but rearranged their personal schedule to attend this important meeting.

      Jim Harris flat out refused to attend to meeting.


  4. Stanley Stanley says:

    I guess Branson that my question flew right over your head. We have heard that the fire department needs more and more monies to stay afloat. “If” the FD is subsidizing a firefighter with travel monies to get to and from the job it seems to me that we hire someone more local to do the job and save money on travel expenses. Think cost reduction. It is only a question that the FD or Kyle can answer. Please get over the play house thing. Every single topic is not related to the flippin playhouse.

    • Stanley, email the department your query. info@29palmsfire.org

      As far the “playhouse thing” Stanley, it’s a bundle of many issues together that has surrounded the community like a hangsman’s noose. But I’ll give your request some thought.

      You gotta remember Kyle is a volunteer firefighter, and has been one since 2007. That’s going on five years. How much money has the department saved over the years? And you are worried if the department is helping with his gas? I don’t know how much firefighters make with five years of field experience, but if it’s $50,000 a year that’s a savings of $250,000! A good deal for the town, but an extreme hardship for Mr. McDermott. It’s professionals like this you want to keep and pay a livable wage.

      Kyle, Brandon and other firefighting volunteers are of more use, more valuable and much-more praiseworthiness than than a overpaid city manager with a penchant for putting a town in dire debt for thirty years.

  5. Stanley Stanley says:

    Branson, you really aren’t worth responding to.

  6. Jeeze, Stanley… You ask a question and I provide an email to a direct source. You offer constructive criticism, I said I’d give it some thought. Sorry you feel that way. Take care.

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