Local fire department reacts to arrest of fellow firefighter

MIDLAND, TX (KWES) - Being a firefighter much like being a police officer or another first responder is like a family.

So, when someone in the family is accused of doing the very thing they are supposed to stop, it hurts.

"Just to hear a firefighter would do that it's really a surprise for the most part," said Manuel Heredia, Midland Fire Department.

Alton Self the volunteer firefighter from Greenwood is behind bars after law enforcement says he admitted to starting several of them throughout Midland County.

Heredia said it's not easy to spot the fire bugs in a crop of recruits.

"It's a process as far as vetting those applicants out. We have to see where they quality, what certifications they have," said Heredia.

Heredia added there were over 100 applicants in the most recent group of recruits for the Midland Fire Department. Out of that they are picking 12. Recruits learn early there's more to profession.

"Firefighting is only a percentage of what we do. Emergency Medical Services is a bigger percentage," said Heredia.

The crash course begins with learning how be there for the community.

"It's mostly being out there holding somebody's hand and telling them things are going to be ok," said Heredia.

For the people in charge, Heredia says being there for your department also helps.

"Just know your men. Get to know your firefighters, see any identifiers, see if they are having any issues," said Heredia.

Self was charged with nine counts of arson. As of right now, bond has not been set.

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