With all of the wildfires hitting the Big Country during this dry time, it's taking a heavy toll on the Volunteer Fire Departments.
More than that it's also affecting the lives of the volunteers. These brave men and women often have to drop everything they are doing to go to a fire, a wreck, or a medical run. Which means leaving behind their normal lives of work and family, and with all of the fires in recent weeks, it's beginning to wear them out.
"The past couple of weeks have been extremely busy," says Sheri Sowell, a volunteer with the Buffalo Gap Volunteer Fire Department, and that can mess with her daily schedule. "Life of a volunteer is extremely frustrating. You can go into Wal-Mart, you get a call and you drop what you're doing and run to your call."
The calls can also interrupt time at work, too. "I'm fortunate, my work understands being a volunteer. They understand you have to go out." She admits that other volunteers are not as fortunate. "Their employer [may] not want them to. They may say, 'Hey if you leave, you might not need to come back to work.' That's happened."
Joseph Palmour, another volunteer, is self employed which means when he's out on calls, he's not able to do the work he needs to do. "The more we're there [at the fires], the less we're at work, it kind of backs us up on work." So he has to budget wisely, and communicate with his clients. "We tell them that if we do get a call, we will have to drop and we will have to go."
He admits having to balance his work load, like that, can be a challenge. "It's a little stressful for me, because I'm constantly worrying."
However, life as a volunteer also means sacrificing family time. For example, Sowell says, "I had a date night with my husband, and we spent our date night putting out hot spots."
As for time with her daughter, Chloe, it sometimes means leaving the dinner table early, which Chloe says, "Sometimes, I'm still hungry." She adds that's she's proud of her mom and dad, but when they leave on calls she wants to go with them, "I wish I could go with them all of the time."
Fire Chief Dana Sowell, went on to elaborate just how challenging this lifestyle can be saying it can create stress at home with the family and at work. Although the volunteers wouldn't be doing this if they didn't like it. Which is exactly what all of them say, adding it's very rewarding to be apart of the Volunteer Fire Department.