We're right on the cusp of this year's fire season and Big Country volunteer departments are gearing up for what they say will most likely be another tough year.
"It has put an extreme stretch on everybody's finances," says Derrick Sawell, Assistant Chief of the Buffalo Gap Volunteer Fire Department.
Volunteer firefighters do the same work as regular firefighters, except for a lot less pay and usually must rely on less equipment.
"Yeah it hasn't been that long since I can remember in our department passing around the hat just to keep the lights on," says Ray King, Chief of the Trent Volunteer Fire Department.
Many volunteers even pay out of their own pocket, just to keep their department afloat.
Sawell says, "They don't hesitate to pitch in when the shortcomings fall. They pitch in their own money."
But aren't complaining because they are doing it to help their neighbors.
"Because once you leave the metropolitan areas, and larger cities, you're going to be taken care of, most likely by a volunteer fire department," says King.
The community foundation of Abilene has a fund to recognize the work done by these departments. Visit cfabilene.org for more information.