HOUSTON COUNTY, Ga. — If you want to serve the community and help keep your neighbors safe, the Houston County Fire Department needs your help.
They are looking for about 20 volunteers for the new year.
Joe LeMaster has been with the Houston County Fire Department as an unpaid volunteer since 2005.
"My dad was a volunteer firefighter when I grew up and I can remember riding with him and watching him go, and respond, and help people out when they’re in their dire need of emergency," he said.
The combination department currently has 17 paid staff and 50 volunteers.
LeMaster says sometimes juggling his job at the base and being a volunteer can be tough.
"It can become stressful at times, trying to keep your job in tune with everything and then also your family life," he said.
But, it’s worth it.
"The thing that I love the most about being a volunteer firefighter is of course giving back to the community, but it’s also the rush of adrenaline. The excitement going into a burning building or saving someone’s life," LeMaster said.
Chief Christopher Stoner said the training program runs from March through December every year and they typically get about 20 people in the program.
"They give their time to give something back to the community and we’ve relied on them for pretty much since the department was created," Stoner said.
He says after that first year they ask that you stay on for another two years, or even longer if you enjoy it.
A lot of people have stayed 15 to 20 years.
Through the program, you’ll receive medical, hazmat and vehicle extraction training, along with state and national certifications in firefighting.
There are certain physical requirements to join the fire suppression team.
You must get a physical and have your doctor sign that you are physically able to perform the duties.
Before the program starts, you have to go through a physical training program that includes climbing up a flight of stairs with an air pack on your back, dragging a hose line 100 feet, and dragging a 175 pound dummy 100 feet.
If you go into the support side of things, you don't have to be as physically fit. You just have to be medically cleared by your doctor.
The training courses happen on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6 to 10 p.m.
Stoner said they make sure they are not interfering with your full-time job.
To sign up, visit any of the fire stations in the county or the 911 Center on Carl Vinson Parkway to pick up an application. The deadline is Jan. 15.
LeMaster says if you’re thinking about giving back to your community, this is a great way to do it.
"Nationwide volunteerism for fire departments across the board is very low right now," He said. "We need the people, we need the experience, we need leadership. We need young guys, old guys, young ladies, older ladies, really anybody that is willing to help us out."
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