‘People just don’t volunteer like they used to’ | East Tennessee relying on volunteer fire departments
Many of the volunteers work all day at full time jobs then head to the fire station.
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - Volunteer fire departments like Waldens Creek Volunteer Fire Department in Sevierville are crucial for Tennessee. More than half of the firefighters are volunteers and work these jobs for free.
“Fire doesn’t know if you’re paid or volunteer. You just go and you do,” said Brandon Farragut, a volunteer firefighter at Waldens Creek.
Many of the volunteers work all day at full time jobs and then head to the fire station. They put in long hours, especially with the recent wildfires across East Tennessee.
“If there’s a large incident or something going on then we’ll go out and fight fire. Sometimes all night then go to work the next day,” said Waldens Creek Fire Chief Tim Baker.
The hours and missed time with family for no pay is a sacrifice Farragut said is worth making.
“Once you do it and you see the outcome and you see the great benefits that come from you being there to change someone’s day, there’s no amount of pay that can amount to that,” said Farragut.
Baker has been with the department for almost 40 years. He said the volunteers are stepping up and putting in more hours with the higher call volume, but the department could always use more help.
“The volunteers are kind of a dying breed. People just don’t volunteer like they used to,” said Baker.
Baker encourages people interested in volunteering to reach out to their local volunteer fire department. He said all departments across the state are always looking for more volunteers.
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