Volunteer Firefighters Remember Noonday Fallen - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

8/3/07-Longview

Volunteer Firefighters Remember Noonday Fallen

The news of the Noonday firefighter tragedy has impacted volunteer firefighters across East Texas. Many we spoke with today felt the loss of brother firefighters, and they reflected on the commitment made by all volunteers. They're our neighbors, business people in our communities, and then they drop everything to fight fires without pay.

"My dad was a volunteer firefighter and I never understood the lost meals and the missed time from home and all that until I became a volunteer, and then I understood why he did it" said Clarksville City Volunteer Firefighter Leisa Gary.

The news of losing two fellow volunteers has saddened a brotherhood.

"That's probably the worst thing a chief can experience.  One of his firefighters getting injured or killed," said White Oak VFD Chief Jim Nall.

"You don't get paid, you don't get a thank you, but its going out and helping your community" Gary said.

Nall began as a volunteer in White Oak 37 years ago.

"The volunteer himself feels an obligation to his family, his friends, and his neighbors to participate ... to give something to the community" said Nall.

They have to train to paid department standards, and they do it on their own time.

"A volunteer has a eight, ten, even twelve hours job that he goes to every day.  Then he has to go after hours and get this training and go to a school" said Nall.

They work day jobs, like John Sheerer, who has volunteered with Clarksville City since its inception, and are often called away in the middle of the night for fires.

"We don't think we're invincible by any means.  We've just got a job to do and we get out there and do it" said Clarksville City Volunteer Firefighter John Sheerer.

In the past, many were denied insurance by their employers because of volunteering.

"A lot of them are not a lot of them are small community fire departments they have no protection" Nall said.

They're the neighbors we might not ever see, but they're there when it counts.

"With no regard for their safety, they would do it for anyone" said Nall.  

It's estimated that 80-percent of all firefighters in the U.S. are volunteers or work with a volunteer department.

Bob Hallmark bhallmark@kltv.com .

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