WNRA spoke with Ron Fillingham and Jimmy Looney with the Colbert County Association of Volunteer Fire Departments in their booth at the North Alabama State Fair. Their agency represents 14 departments across the county, collectively offering fire protection to every rural area.
They said the main problem the departments are facing is finding younger volunteers to succeed them. In departments that are aging, the veteran firefighters find themselves less physically able to do the work they used to. Fillingham says he has dedicated 51 years to his department and is eager to pass on his experience to younger men and women who want to serve.
Since the positions are volunteer-based, some people may think holding a full-time job elsewhere would prevent them from serving as a volunteer firefighter. But Looney says the minimum requirement is only 20 hours of service or training each year, but you can put in as many hours as you wish. That’s not much at all, and most training will take place at your nearby fire hall for convenience.
Anyone 18 years or older with a valid Alabama Driver License may become a member of your local department. Rural residents are proud of independent living and self-sufficiency. But if you have a structure fire or brush fire larger than your garden hose can put out, it’s time to call your neighbors in to help. That’s Real Country living.
If you or someone you know is interested in becoming a volunteer fire fighter in your community, reach out to the Colbert County Association of Volunteer Fire Departments. Even if you are outside the area, they can point you in the right direction.
Hear the interview on the WNRA Transcriptions page: Transcriptions – WNRA 94.5 FM