Need for volunteer fire fighters on the rise in East Texas - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

Need for volunteer fire fighters on the rise in East Texas


East Texas volunteer firefighters are getting extra training this weekend, but say there is a bigger issue at hand. They need more volunteers.

14 East Texas volunteer fire departments came together for a vehicle rescue training seminar.

Every firefighter goes through this training, but for these departments there is one big difference.

"We do everything that a paid department does. The only difference between us and the paid guys is we don't get paid for it. We do it because we love it, and we love helping people," said Michael Reabis, a volunteer firefighter in Coffee City.

Reabis has been a volunteer firefighter for 11 years. He says the biggest problem is being understaffed.

"There is a huge need in East Texas, a huge need. There's not very many people that actually want to do this, and we really need volunteers badly," said Reabis.

Nicholas Monk with the Flint-Gresham fire department says they host Canadian firefighter students from the Kilgore Fire Academy in order to have more helping hands on their staff.

"It allows us to have a major jump on these calls when we already have that manpower at our station," said Monk.

Those students include Bridget Blackmore who has recognized the need for more volunteers.

"It's really tough when you're out there on a call and you don't have enough members to do everything that needs to be done," said Blackmore. "You have to call for mutual aid from different departments and it's rough. You just do, what you have to do."

Although it's hard work, Reabis says it's all worth it.

"No money in the world can take away that great feeling you get when you're able to go out on call to help people. It's an awesome feeling," said Reabis.

Volunteer firefighters say you don't need any previous training to get involved.

All you have to do is stop by your local fire department to get started.

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