For many smaller towns and cities across the Coastal Bend, you’ll likely see volunteers at the line of fire when an emergency rises. However, the need for volunteer firefighters is at an all time high right now.
“It takes a strong, strong willed person, big heart to do this for free.” Says Battalion Chief Patrick Guzman of the Kleberg County Fire Department. “Some of us come from our day-to-day jobs and have a few that are college students. Very very important that we provide the service for emergency services to Kleberg county.”
Chief Guzman says that it’s very hard recruiting volunteer firefighters because there is no pay. “Each year we usually get 2-3 to come in and then we lose 2-3 at the end of the year.”
As for the northern part of the Coastal Bend, Fulton Chief Rickey McLester tells KRIS 6 that after Hurricane Harvey, many volunteers had to leave the area. “We lost several members over that side of the bridge, uh multiple fire departments did. And so trying to recover from that has been, been difficult,” says McLester.
Chief McLester says that there are many misconceptions about volunteer fire departments, such as training. With any job, you must meet the requirements for each volunteer fire department. But once hired, you will go through different parts of rigorous training that will help any volunteer in emergency situations.
Some of the best ways to help a volunteer fire department without putting out any fires or doing any rescues, is helping out the department in the background through their Fire Corp (will need to check local fire dept. if they have one). Such as supplying waters, damp towels, and helping with paperwork or fixing equipment. As for the Fulton Volunteer Fire Department, they gain a big part of their donations through Fulton Oysterfest. But many other fire departments to not have the same kind of funds flowing in, so many volunteer fire departments rely heavily on donations.
Most volunteer fire departments also have weekly meetings that are open for any new volunteers.
These are a few of the volunteer fire departments that told KRIS 6 they are in NEED of volunteers:
- Kleberg Fire & Rescue: contact their Facebook page
- Mathis Volunteer Fire Department: contact Fire Chief Adrian Ramirez at 361-533-7022 or 361-290-8984
- Agua Dulce Volunteer Fire Dept (Nueces Jim Wells ESD #5): contact 361-660-3686
- Rockport Volunteer Fire Department: visit RVFD at 212 N Gagon Rockport, TX (Must live in Aransas County, TX)
- Woodsboro Vol. Fire Dept: contact Capt. Jason Andrade or Lt. Brian Wiginiton on their FB page or visit at 200 Johnson St.
- Gregory Volunteer Fire Department: Office # 361-643-7151. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, or contact through Facebook page, Fire Chief is Dustin Amy.
- Refugio Volunteer Fire Department: contact Capt. Ronnie Williams 361-318-3738