Most of the volunteer fire departments manage to eke out their operations during the year through donations or through the assistance of neighboring fire departments. But some are forced to function on a shoestring budget, or with crew members who can't otherwise devote a lot of time, veteran volunteer firefighters have said.
Ellis also said he's grateful to the
But the lingering problem for the department remains the issue of manpower, Ellis said.
"If I get five or six (volunteer firefighters to show up to a fire call), I'd be happy," Ellis said, adding that his department has responded to about 1,800 calls this year and provides fire protection to about 419 square miles.
Out-of-pocket expenses have amounted to about
"Donations help a lot. It just helps to keep us going," Ellis said. "In the end we all got to do what it takes to get the job done."
Ellis, 56, spent more than 30 years with the volunteer fire department before his retirement in 2013. Ellis said that in spite of the hardships his department faces he still commits himself to responding to calls because for him it's virtually a calling. But he unretired, right?
"It's hard to say, but the plain thing is to help out anyone," Ellis said when asked why he continues to remain a volunteer firefighter. "The feeling you get is indescribable."
"The money is an uphill struggle," Jennings said. "You never have enough for everything you need. You rely a lot on donations."
Jennings was so moved by Odessa's gesture that he told the council during the meeting that his department's prayers have "been answered."
And the money it receives from
"I'm giving back to the community," Richardson said.
Jennings said he still finds time in his schedule to continue his level of volunteerism despite his busy life. Aside from running a business, Jennings is a vice president of the local water board and a lay pastor at his church, he said.
Asked why Jennings continues being a volunteer firefighter, he said, "I think (it's) the feeling I get when I go help someone. I just enjoy doing it."
Currently, Oglesby said his department is applying for a
"Money is a real challenge," Oglesby said. "We really don't have a lot of issues that come," said Oglesby, who mentioned that his department responded to as many as 75 calls over the course of 11 months. "They include medical aids, car wrecks, structure fires, and oil field fires and grass fires."
"The commitment is a huge factor," said Bell, who added that would-be volunteers realize in training or during two-hour meetings that occur three times a month that firefighting might not be for them. While the volunteer department receives about
Like other volunteer firefighters before him, Bell said he values what he does when he's not working.
"I've always wanted to help the community," Bell said.
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