Volunteer fire departments in dire need of help

UPSHUR COUNTY, TX (KLTV) - Volunteer fire departments in Upshur County say they are really suffering.
A drop in the number of volunteer firefighters has taken a toll on the present firefighters who are battling the heat.

10 lockers stand vacant at the West Mountain Fire Department.

"It hurts, it really and truly hurts," West Mountain Fire Department Chief Andy Killion says.

Without the necessary manpower, firefighters are struggling.

"You go, you put on your bunker gear, all of your necessary breathing apparatuses, you start dragging hoses, and you find out real quick, you need some young horsepower," Chief Killion says.

Andy Killion has been the West Mountain Fire Chief for 40 years.

One thing he has noticed over the decades, is far fewer people are willing to give up their time and service.

"My father served in the Marine Corps and did more than his term, the people out there today did not have that role model," Chief Killion says.
Killion says his department has a turnover rate of 18 months.

"If it wasn't for our neighbors, we would have a really hard time," Chief Killion says.

The Gilmer Fire Department is one of two departments in Upshur County, actually paid by the city. And with only six employed firefighters; a county filled with 41,000 are in dire need of volunteers.

"With the limited number it just makes it harder and harder, because we need, on average, about 15 people on each house fire, and we don't have that," Gilmer Fire Department Chief Jerry Taylor says.

That leaves Taylor to call in help from a very small number of volunteers.

"There is no one at their station, so it takes them five to ten minutes to get there, then it takes them five to ten minutes to get to us, so you're talking 20 to 30 minutes before we get any back up," Chief Taylor says.

Volunteer fire departments in Upshur County say they are always looking for qualified, dedicated men and women to volunteer.
If you are interested, you can contact your closest local department.