by Sarah Snyder
MIDLAND COUNTY - When fire fighters travel to a scene, they have all of the equipment they need to put out a blaze.
But what they can't carry with them are meals, drinks, and a place to rest.
Some Midland County residents have made it their mission to change that.
When Anna Washam's phone rings, she knows that in a matter of minutes, she may be out on the scene of one of the latest fires sweeping across the Permian Basin.
"They are out there helping us, we need to help them back," Anna Washam said.
She and husband, Gene, are members of the Midland Citizens Fire Academy, a group of volunteers.
They supply food, water, and a clean place for firefighters to rest while they fight fires.
"They can't do it all. They need help just like everybody else," Gene Washam said.
Midland has about 14 volunteers each equipped with scanners and pagers.
When a fire breaks out, two or three of them head straight for the fire station.
"What the Alumni Association over the years has evolved into a group of volunteers the helps the Midland Fire Department out. Not only in emergency scenes, like the grassfires we've had lately, they'll come out, bring Gatorade, water, coffee, food or snacks," Russ Conley, Midland County Fire Chief, said.
The volunteers use a retired ambulance to transport the supplies to the scene where they can make hot meals and give them a cool drink.
"Right now, we need a lot of donations because the water, the drinks, all the food comes out of our funds, and with all these fires and everything, our funds are way down low," Anna Washam said.
"There is only so much the city can do for us, and we're all on a budget, and we have to be good enough stewards of the city's money and the public's money, so when there's volunteer groups that are willing to help us out like this, it takes some of the burden off of the tax payers and citizens," Conley said.
With so many fires in our area, more volunteers are needed now than ever before.
This month, they will offer training for anyone interested.
"To Teach the citizens about what we do at the Midland Fire Department. They learn everything about the type of gear we wear to the equipment that we use, the fire engines, the fire hose, everything," Conley said.
The volunteers say their mission is a rewarding one, serving those who serve Midland County each time a siren sounds.
"The firemen are out there, putting their lives on the line and they need all the help they can get," Anna Washam said.
If you are interested in donating supplies to help these volunteers assist the Fire Department, you can send your contribution directly to the Central Fire Station.
If you're interested in joining the alumni association, classes begin March 27th. The sessions last about 3 hours for 10 weeks.