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Shelby County, AL (WBMA) –

Many communities rely heavily on volunteer fire services, especially in rural areas. Officials say that they disappear because they have not had enough volunteers or money to continue their operations.

If you ask them why they got involved, they have several reasons.

"It seemed like a good way to give back to the community," said Matthew Rush, Shelby's VFD firefighter.

"Well, you're not getting paid for that, so there has to be a personal interest, but I think letting people know that there is a need for volunteers would be the first step in informing people "says Jeff Jones, Summer Hill Chief VFDs.

Volunteer firefighters are there for you, but also one for the other.

"We rely on each other, while we live in difficult times, we are here to support and help us, and it's something that you simply can not buy in the company. Today, "said Rush.

Moreover, in today's society, the number of volunteer firefighters is decreasing. Several VFDs had to close because they no longer have the funding or the required staff. Jones remembers 3 in Shelby County over the last decade.

What some people do not realize, a community without VFD may not be what you would like to live.

"Your home insurance could almost double or triple in some cases because your fire coverage would disappear immediately.The long-term effects would be on your county, your state and your local government should find a way to increase tax revenues to be able to to provide the appropriate personnel for these fire stations, "says Rush.

Which, according to him, could represent a million dollars per station and per year. Here's another fact: VFDs need more than volunteer firefighters.

"Only 2 to 4 people go to a house fire at any time, but it takes 10 to 15 people outside to succeed these 2 or 4 people." It's a matter of driving a truck on the premises, help get the truck out of the water, keeping an eye on power lines, on other passers-by for their safety or on fundraisers, "says Rush.

They rely on subsidies and monetary support. Summer Hill VFD currently has 14 volunteers, but could use 25. Like most volunteer departments, they do not have anyone at the station 24 hours a day. Some people work at night, some people are on leave, so most time, they answer, you can see about four on the spot.

Let 's not forget that they volunteer, they also have other jobs.

"Can we go home and sleep before we have to work in an hour, or is it time to go home to take a shower and get to work right away?" Rush said about a conversation that some firefighters had at the scene of a fire that occurred early in the morning.

No matter what hours, they will be there when they need it. They just need other volunteers to be dedicated to serving their community.

"Some people love the excitement, some people like to know what's going on in the neighborhood and in that you can do both," Jones said.

ABC 33/40 volunteer firefighters have spoken, they sometimes work long hours, but saving lives is worth it.