Several Local Fire Departments Rely on Volunteer Firefighters

Many of those firefighters who responded to
the West, Texas explosions were volunteers.

And here, in the CSRA, we have several fire
departments that rely on volunteer firefighters.

Several
fire departments in the CSRA use volunteer firefighters including Waynesboro,
Hephizibah and Aiken. Harlem uses 25 volunteer firefighters, Grovetown has
around 10 and Columbia County crews use 40.

And
of the 28,000 registered firefighters in the peach state, around 40% are
volunteers, 40% are paid.

From
fires to medical emergencies, volunteer firefighter Mike Gosneigh has helped
out Columbia County for the past 6 years.

“I love it, it's been 6 years. I try to do
everything I can. There's a lot of excitement and I learn a lot,” said Mike
Gosneigh.

Not taking a dime, volunteer firefighters put
their lives at risk everyday to protect us, because of their passion.

“It's dangerous but I don't think about it,”
said Gosneigh.

“Every 3rd or 4th day, a
firefighter dies in the line of duty,” said Assistant Fire Chief for Columbia
County Fire, Jim Champion.

“Well at times, it
is very physical, long hours and a fire could happen any time day or night,”
said Gosneigh.

Georgia has 650 fire departments, and out of those
— 7 out of 10 are fully staffed by volunteer firefighters – or 70%.

“Last year, we saved half a million dollars which we
would have to spend if we had paid staff,” said Champion.

“It can be
very dangerous. You can go into a burning house, medical calls.  A lot of
things can happen but I don't look at it that way. I look at that it can help
someone out,” said Gosneigh.

Volunteer firefighters initially train for 3
hours a day – and are given as much training as a paid firefighter.  Now,
if you want to be a volunteer firefighter, you have to be at least 18-years
old, take an aptitude test, take a physical exam and have a clean criminal
records check. You may also have to respond to medical emergencies.

 

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