The True Meaning of Volunteer

HOXIE, AR -- We call firefighters "heroes" because they put it all on the line when the call comes in. Tuesday night, ''heroes'' from several different departments were called in to fight a huge fire in Hoxie and some of them left in an ambulance.

Five brave firemen were hurt doing what they could against the huge fire that totaled the Furniture and Appliances Now store in Hoxie. It's one thing to risk your life as a firefighter when it's your job and you're paid to do it, but for volunteer firefighters that risk comes without financial reward.

"Their lives are at risk every time they respond to a fire.  I think they're the greatest heroes that I guess you could say are around. They sacrifice a lot from spending times with their families. A lot of these guys spend a lot of their free time here at the station from working on the trucks, to training, to going over their gear," says Hoxie Fire Chief Will Tate.

Five firefighters suffered injuries during Tuesday's night's fire at furniture and appliances now in Hoxie. Three were treated on the scene from heat related injuries, but 2 others were taken to the hospital.

"Pretty much, my heart dropped in my stomach and the morale of the guys just goes to bottom when they find out that a fellow firefighter is down," says Chief Tate.

Billy Blair, a captain with the Hoxie Fire Department remains in the Lawrence County Hospital Wednesday night, after falling 14 feet from a ladder. He is in stable condition.

Seven fire departments from around Lawrence County responded. Of all the firefighters there, nearly all were volunteers; something Hoxie Fire Chief Will Tate says can make it difficult when you're fighting such a big blaze.

"Unfortunately we don't have the luxury of having assigned personnel doing certain things like this guy all he does is fight ventilation and this guy all he does is fight holes, so at a volunteer fire department, it's a bigger challenge for us," says Chief Tate.

After fighting the fire until the early hours of the morning, many of the firefighters had to report to their regular jobs Wednesday morning, exhausted and drained.

"As a volunteer, you've got your regular job and you work Monday through Friday. I've got some guys who work days and some guys who work nights, then they've got times to spend with their families," says Chief Tate.

It's a job that requires a lot of time, a lot of hard work, and more importantly a lot of risk...all for free.

"They don't make any money doing this. They're here because they want to serve their community and they want to help out their fellow citizens," adds Chief Tate.

Chief Tate did K8 News that the cause of the fire has not yet been determined. The fire scene was still too hot Wednesday to start the investigation.

He also wanted to thank all 6 other volunteer fire departments for their assistance Tuesday night, saying everything ran very smoothly.