Answering a call
Published 1:33 am Monday, July 9, 2007
By By Lydia Grimes and Kerry Whipple Bean
Michael Tyler rarely leaves the Brewton area.
As chief of the Appleton Volunteer Fire Department, he believes his responsibility is to his community and to respond to emergencies - from fires to wrecks to medical calls.
But that doesn't mean he considers the volunteer work a burden.
But liking the work does not make it easy.
And because they answer so many different types of calls, firefighters experience some difficult scenes, Morris said.
Among many volunteers, the work is a family affair. Tyler, for example, got involved because his brother-in-law invited him to join the department. His wife, Ginny, volunteers, too.
“If I can save one life, all the training will be worth it,” Ginny Tyler said. “I can be of some help to people right in my own community, and that makes me feel good. I look on other firefighters as my brothers and sisters, and when they fall, we hurt.”
Joey Hutchcraft, fire chief of the McCall Volunteer Department, also worked with his late wife.
According to the National Volunteer Fire Council, most small communities are protected by volunteer departments. Communities of 6,000 people and fewer are protected by a majority of volunteers, the council said. Nationwide, 76 percent of firefighters are volunteers.
Like all firefighters, volunteers also go through training, sometimes as vigorously as their paid counterparts. Joe Megas, chief of the Dixonville Volunteer Fire Department, was trained as a firefighter in the military.
For most volunteers, helping their community is the most important aspect of their work.
Harold Holmes, fire chief of Pineview-Foshee Volunteer Fire Department, has been with the department since 1986 when it was organized, and has been chief for most of that time.