Citrus County in need of volunteer firefighters
Monday, August 18th

The Citrus County Fire Services Division is made up of mostly volunteers.

Even though he only gets $10 a call, Harris’ workload mirrors that of a full-time professional firefighter.

"Most of the calls we go on are the came type of calls a full-time department would respond to," he says.

Some stations in Citrus County respond to approximately 130 calls a month. Fred Beckner, an official with the county’s fire service department, says things are tough.

"Right now all we have are our volunteers," he said of the situation. "We need them desperately because we don’t have enough of them."

The rules are two must remain on the outside of a building while two are inside.

The volunteers get paid the same amount whether the call takes one hour or 10 hours. They must also take extensive training courses, on their own time.

Citrus County resident John Benson appreciates the volunteer’s efforts. "I think they’re pretty brave people to risk their own lives to come out and volunteer," Benson said. "They drop everything, they leave from their families. . . they’re brave people."

During a structure fire, Citrus firefighters must adhere to the two-in and two-out rule. That means there needs to be at least four firefighters at the scene before the burning building can be entered.

That can be a difficult task when you consider that most of the volunteers have full-time jobs.

The volunteers must undergo extensive training. "All the guys here have different jobs," Beckner said of his group of volunteers. "We have school teachers, bankers and so sometimes several stations need to be called in order to get enough volunteers at the scene."

With that in mind, residents in Citrus County are hoping there will always be someone available to answer the call should a fire break out.