Number of Volunteer Firefighters Decreasing Statewide

by Roma Vivas
NewsWest 9   

ODESSA- Volunteer firefighters take it day by day. They never know when they are going to be called out to a fire and they carry their pagers ready to lend a helping hand.

"It's a bunch of individuals willing to go above and beyond what it's normally asked of them to take care of their fellow citizens and their community," Chief Jimmy Ellis with the West Odessa Volunteer Fire Department, said.

That's how Chief Jimmy Ellis describes a volunteer firefighter 12 years as Chief of the West Odessa Volunteer Fire Department Ellis says it's not an easy job and not every one can do it.

"It takes a special person, because even though you are not getting a pay check you still get to see the bad side of things that aren't good, we've had a lot of fire deaths this year and that's hard to take for anybody," Ellis said.

Right now, the department has about 26 registered members, but they're not all active the ones that usually stay on call 24/7.

"A lot people don't understand just what exactly it's involved in it, because it takes a lot of time, it takes a lot of dedication to do it and it's hard in the family to come up here and train every Monday night, to be up fighting a fire all night and then having to wake up to go to work the next day," Ellis said.

And just like almost every employer here in West Texas the department is competing with the oil fields.

"All of the oil companies have their people working 24/7 and they are trying to keep ahead and try to stay up as long as the boom is going and everyone is having a hard time finding people especially with volunteers, we are just having to keep what we can when we can," Ellis said.

Firefighters in Midland also say volunteers are very important, because they provide extra manpower and extra equipment in emergencies.