Volunteer Firefighters Trying to Balance Jobs

Nick Lawton
NewsWest 9

MIDLAND - After months and months of blazes, the sign of smoke on the horizon now puts every West Texan on high alert.

Volunteer firefighters at the Northeast Midland County Volunteer Fire Department find themselves being called out nearly every day.

They're called away from everything, even their paying jobs, to put out the flames.

"There have been a few times, yes, that we've been called away," NE Midland County Volunteer Firefighter, Chris Reed, said. "I carry my pager and my radio with me. They know that when the pager goes off, it's probably time for me to go."

Their battles with West Texas blazes are taking time away from the jobs they need.

But they said the pager that goes off is the call they need to answer, which they've been answering constantly.

"The last few months, it's been five or six fires, if not more, a week," Reed said.

"In the middle of the night," NE Midland County Volunteer Firefighter, Cody Elder, said. "We've been called out two o'clock in the morning sometimes."

"We've done 65 fires so far this year," Reed said.

Firefighters also told NewsWest 9 that battling the flames has now become a part of life in the Basin. So much so that even their employers understand when the pager goes off.

"We use our own gas to come out here to the station when our pager goes off," Elder said. "The last six months, with all the fires and everything, I think they do have more understanding of what we do and when the pager goes off, they tend to let you go a little more."

Despite the strain on their lives and the strain on their jobs, firefighters told NewsWest 9, they won't stop. Whether it's the work they're paid for, or the work they give for free, they won't stop doing their part.

"You do get a lot of satisfaction out of it, and I think that's how all of us out here get satisfaction," Elder said. "That's what makes us come back."

"Yeah, I may not be getting paid for the job, but I'm helping people out, saving their houses or saving certain things," Reed said. "I've had a house burn down before and it's nice to be able to give back."