Several Local Fire Departments Rely on Volunteer Firefighters - WJBF-TV ABC 6 Augusta-Aiken

Several Local Fire Departments Rely on Volunteer Firefighters

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Columbia County, GA -

Many of those firefighters who responded to the West, Texas explosions were volunteers.

And here, in the CSRA, we have several fire departments that rely on volunteer firefighters.

Several fire departments in the CSRA use volunteer firefighters including Waynesboro, Hephizibah and Aiken. Harlem uses 25 volunteer firefighters, Grovetown has around 10 and Columbia County crews use 40.

And of the 28,000 registered firefighters in the peach state, around 40% are volunteers, 40% are paid.

From fires to medical emergencies, volunteer firefighter Mike Gosneigh has helped out Columbia County for the past 6 years.

"I love it, it's been 6 years. I try to do everything I can. There's a lot of excitement and I learn a lot," said Mike Gosneigh.

Not taking a dime, volunteer firefighters put their lives at risk everyday to protect us, because of their passion.

"It's dangerous but I don't think about it," said Gosneigh.

"Every 3rd or 4th day, a firefighter dies in the line of duty," said Assistant Fire Chief for Columbia County Fire, Jim Champion.

"Well at times, it is very physical, long hours and a fire could happen any time day or night," said Gosneigh.

Georgia has 650 fire departments, and out of those --- 7 out of 10 are fully staffed by volunteer firefighters – or 70%.

"Last year, we saved half a million dollars which we would have to spend if we had paid staff," said Champion.

"It can be very dangerous. You can go into a burning house, medical calls.  A lot of things can happen but I don't look at it that way. I look at that it can help someone out," said Gosneigh.

Volunteer firefighters initially train for 3 hours a day – and are given as much training as a paid firefighter.  Now, if you want to be a volunteer firefighter, you have to be at least 18-years old, take an aptitude test, take a physical exam and have a clean criminal records check. You may also have to respond to medical emergencies.


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