(WKBN) – National Volunteer Firefighter Appreciation Week is being celebrated this week. It’s to honor those who work a full-time job and still serve the public.
When someone has an emergency, they call 911. For smaller communities, a lot of times, they go through a volunteer fire department.
“Somebody is having a bad day, they don’t care whether your name says volunteer or professional. They want someone to show up and get the job done and that’s what we’re here for,” said Leetonia Assistant Fire Chief Jason Hephner.
Volunteer firefighters show up to fires, car accidents, medical calls and more.
“Possibly get there before the ambulance gets there to help people and that’s the main thing. We’re here to serve the people,” said William O’Hara, with the Western Reserve Joint Fire District in Poland.
One of the biggest differences between volunteer and full-service firefighters is that many of these volunteers also work full-time jobs.
“They let me leave. If I need to leave for something major, I leave,” Hephner said.
“It’s whenever you’re not working, you’re on call,” O’Hara said.
Which can happen at any hour of the day.
“You’re out of your bed and you go and answer the call and do your job. Then you’re back home to get up at 6 a.m. and go to your regular job,” O’Hara said.
They have to go through the same training as other fire departments — hours and hours of continuous training — just to keep you and your family safe.
“Fifty years ago, they basically answered fire calls, that was it. Maybe some car wrecks. Nowadays, it’s evolved into so much more. Medical service has become a huge, huge part of the fire service,” Hephner said.
“A lot of the fire departments now require that you become an EMT or a first responder, which takes up eight weeks or more,” O’Hara said.
All just to do what they love to do.
“We need to be on our best when they’re having their worst day,” Hephner said.