Volunteer firefighters overworked by daily fire

Volunteer firefighters overworked by daily fire

SMITH COUNTY, TX (KLTV) - Every day for weeks volunteer firefighters have been responding to grass fires, mostly in the afternoon. All those calls are taxing the equipment as well as the firefighters themselves.

According to Jackson Heights Battalion Chief Kelcey Trotty, day after day it's the same thing at nearly the same time of day.

"We counted this morning and we were up to 58 grass and wood related fire calls and that's not including structure fires or MVAs or medical calls in the last two weeks," Trotty said.

Of course, the fires aren't just in their area.

"We've actually been over to Gregg County backing Sabine on a couple calls, and I believe Arp, Overton, deeper into Rusk County than some of the other departments have," Trotty said.

And some days just get long.

"The guys had a fire here in Chapel Hill here I guess it's been a week ago now. That fire ended up burning 20-25 acres. They were tied up on that one for a good while most of the day and a lot of the guys, they came into work at 7-8 o'clock in the morning and it was probably 7-8 o'clock at night before they finally got home," Trotty said.

Arien Juneau has been fighting fires about 25 years but is new to Jackson Heights. He says it's hard on firefighters and equipment.

"It puts a lot of wear and tear on these vehicles. We're up and down the road constantly. Between being off-road to fight the fire, sucking in dust," Juneau said.

It makes for extra maintenance.

"Rinse radiators out on trucks, pull air filters out and blow them out,"Trotty explained.

"It's physically exhausting, mentally exhausting at times but we'll still get up and do it no matter how tired we are," Juneau added.

There are burn bans over most of East Texas, and firefighters want citizens to abide by that ruling. They also say citizens need to be vigilant and report a fire immediately before it rages out of control.

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