Pa'auilo Volunteer Fire Company 8A
Company Eight Alpha (8A) is a group of volunteer firefighters operating under the supervision of the county Fire Department. Captain Jim Millar has led the volunteer group for the last 18 years and has long been an officer or board member of PMKCA.
We should also be aware that the volunteer fire fighters are sometimes the first on the scene of a fire. They are often the difference between a small fire that is quickly extinguished and a much larger and more dangerous fire that could destroy homes and endanger members of the community. Captain Jim Millar encourages anyone who is interested in becoming a volunteer to contact him and begin the process of joining the group (Jim’s contact information is at PMKCA.org). Company 8A is an important asset to our community. We need to support it as much as we can.
Our local Volunteer Fire Company is critical to the safety of our community and its residents.
If you are interested in becoming a volunteer firefighter,
contact Jim at 808 936-5867 or by email at email@example.com.
Members (in 2021) of 8A and their equipment at their Paauilo station.
From left to right: Thomas Au (recruit 1st day) Jim Millar, Ryder Millar, Brysen (Maka) Heidenfeldt (1st day as our new County Training Captain), Matt Baguiran (Just accepted to the 50th Recruit class for HFD), Wesley Morakane (one signature away from becoming an active VFD member).
Vehicle on left: BT8A 9 (Brush Truck), 1990 Ford F450 400 gallons capable of running 2- 11/2" attack lines and one 1" Brush line with one 250 gpm pump. Donated to us by Salinas Rural FD of California.
The other truck is E8A (Engine), a 1989 truck with 500 gallons, capable of running 2- 11/2" attack lines and 2- 1" brush lines with a 250 gpm pump as well as an auxillary pump for pump and roll operations. Donated to us by Cal Fire. Both trucks are 4WD.
A true story: Pa'auilo VFC 8A and the June 2021 Wildfire
In June 2021, on a windy afternoon, a fire started in the dry guinea grass beneath planted eucalyptus trees on the makai side of Hwy 19, just east of Pa’auilo. Within a few hours, burning in a southwest direction, the fire had jumped the highway and was threatening homes, fields and other structures above Pa’auilo, as well as Pa’auilo School. Among the many critical responses that we saw that day (the Hawaii Fire Department, bulldozers cutting fire breaks, neighbors helping neighbors), the Pa’auilo Volunteer Fire Company 8A was activated by HFD to help protect homes in the path of the flames. The fire was eventually contained and put out, after burning nearly 2,000 acres. At about 12:30pm on June 4, 2021, Captain Jim Millar got the call to action from the Fire Department. Along with Jim, volunteers Matthew Baguiran, Hugh Montgomery and Roger Acdal were assigned to help protect the houses above and around the Paauilo Post Office (“manager’s houses” from plantation days). At the same location, a D-9 bulldozer was working to scrape guinea grass and brush away as a fire-stopping break between the fire and the houses. The company watched and monitored as multiple piles of small logs caught fire and burned one after the other. These piles of wood were treetops left over from logging operations completed a few years ago. The company’s job was to make sure no blowing embers crossed the line and caused new fires that could continue burning toward the houses. Around dusk, it was clear that the houses were going to be safe and 8A moved operations to Pohakea Road, which was directly downwind of the fire front and was being used as a fire break. The D-9 dozer also moved to that area and continued creating fire breaks along Pohakea Road and above Paauilo School. The volunteers helped extinguish flames that approached the road and made sure that no sources of ignition crossed it. At the peak of the firefighting effort eight companies of firefighters, including two volunteer groups, worked on the blaze. They came from as far away as Hilo, Waikoloa and South Kohala and were supported by two helicopters. The helicopters carried water from a nearby irrigation reservoir at the end of the Hāmākua Ditch to more inaccessible hot spots in the fire. After the county water tank supplying Paauilo hydrants got very low, tanker trucks were added to help move water from the Honoka‘a area. Several more bulldozers from the surrounding community were called in to clear fire breaks ahead of the fire. At 4 am it became clear that the fire would not cross Pohakea Road. Company 8A was relieved and the volunteers went home for some well-deserved rest. Jim told me he got to bed at the first light of dawn and was sound asleep at 8 am when he got a call to mobilize for a fire in Kukuihaele. The company was stood down while he was enroute, so he turned around and went back home to sleep. After the initial effort to contain the fire, the 8A volunteers continued to address flare ups and hot spots at the Paauilo fire several times during the following week.