Volunteer firefighters face challenges while helping the community

It's not so much the numbers, but being available when the call comes in.

Volunteer firefighters are in high demand, but that's not the biggest challenge rural counties face.

It's not so much the numbers, but being available when the call comes in.

Lewis County as a whole only has volunteer fire departments. So if thereâ??s a fire in Maywood and no one is available, you could wait over 30 minutes for someone to put out the flames.

Bryan Jennings has been a volunteer fire fighter for the past 10 to 15 years.

"During the days, we don't have a whole lot of manpower, I think we have 30 something people on the roster, but during the day we may be down to five or six people," Jennings said.

This is the number one challenge that volunteer firefighters are facing in rural counties.

As volunteers, they are un-paid which means they have to also work a job that pays the bills.

So when there's a fire between 9 and 5, finding someone to put it out, can be extremely difficult.

â??Some of us are able to take off without pay, some of us can take off, it just depends on your job and where you're at," Jennings said.

But if no one is available, they have to call surrounding volunteer stations such as Palmyra and La Grange.

While Ewing has about 30 volunteers, Maywood has just handful.

And if that isn't enough, they also don't have enough people to operate their vehicles even if they are all available.

Dylan Waterman has been a volunteer firefighter for the past two years.

â??Down here at Maywood we only have five people in this station, and we don't have enough down here to drive all of our trucks if we need them all, so yes, we always need help," Waterman said.

Finding more volunteers is not necessarily something you send out an application for. In most cases, people who want to volunteer will come looking for the job.

And although they face many challenges, the outcome is rewarding.

"When you realize you're going to help somebody, and then at the end of the day you realize you've done good for your community, it's the best thing," Waterman said.

(Story by KHQA Multimedia Journalist Lauren Kalil.)