Texas seeing a shortage of volunteer firefighters - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

Texas seeing a shortage of volunteer firefighters

Source: KCBD Video Source: KCBD Video
Captain Willie Villarreal, O'Donnell Volunteer Fire Department Captain Willie Villarreal, O'Donnell Volunteer Fire Department
Source: KCBD Video Source: KCBD Video
Source: KCBD Video Source: KCBD Video
O'DONNELL, TX (KCBD) -

Texas is seeing a state-wide shortage in volunteer firefighters, including here on the South Plains.

The O'Donnell Fire Department says they're always looking for more volunteers.

We're used to the usual sights and sounds of help on the way but, here in Texas, the number of first responders is decreasing.

"We could use all of the help we can," says Captain Willie Villarreal with the O'Donnell Volunteer Fire Department.

The State Firefighters' and Fire Marshals' Association says the number of volunteer firefighters decreased by 80,000 in the past decade.

Many people don't realize, nearly 80 percent of the state's fire service is made up of volunteer fire departments.

But, for Villarreal, it's not just a job; it's become something he feels like he's meant to do.

"I got into the department by just responding to, we had a structure fire and I went to see if I could help and they asked me to join," he says. "I've been on the fire department since then."

For this small town of O'Donnell, the number of emergency calls may be small, but these volunteers are crucial.

"Probably about 15 minutes to get here from Lamesa or Tahoka, so we try to respond as soon as we hear the page," Villarreal explains.

Like many across the state, they're just trying do the best as they can with the amount of folks they have.

"About 22 members, the only thing is, during the day we have probably just one or two that are able to respond," he says. "Being a small community and a farming community, a lot of us work out of town and it's just hard to have people in town to respond during the day."

It's a small, but dedicated staff here in O'Donnell.

"It's kind of tough, it makes it hard sometimes, but we try to do the best we can when we get to a scene with the guys who are there and try to take care of whatever situation comes up," he says.

If you'd like to volunteer, please contact your area fire department.

Copyright 2016 KCBD. All rights reserved.

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