Keeping Others Safe, Not Money, Motivates Limestone Volunteer Firefighters
ROGERS COUNTY, Oklahoma - Two dozen volunteer Firefighters graduated from the Limestone Fire academy. A few will join the Limestone Fire Department, which responded to the Tulsa Asphalt fire Monday.
The fire was a very close call for firefighters, but the graduates said it doesn't discourage them - it motivates them to be part of the next big one to keep people safe.
One by one, Thursday, 24 graduates walked across the stage, officially becoming firefighters.
A few will suit up in gear as Limestone Volunteer firefighters, not getting a dime in return for their service.
Graduate Ryan Haney said a balance between fighting fires and working will be the key.
"If you are fighting a fire all night long and have to go to work at 6:00, you have to be motivated to go to work and have that balance,” he said.
Haney has always had a passion for firefighting, now he's making that dream a reality.
It means responding to fires like the one at Tulsa Asphalt where three firefighters were injured, but none of them were hospitalized. A camera on one fire captain's helmet captured a tank exploding, which caught firefighters off guard.
Training officer, Chief Calvin Golbek, said, "I'd be lying if I said it didn't scare you a little bit, but you understand the dangers and you understand how to protect yourself when you are out there."
Haney said, "It's a calling anyways. So, some people do end up getting hurt. It's a dangerous profession, we just chose to volunteer, but most of these guys are still going to jump right in."
Close calls, like at the Tulsa Asphalt fire, make you wonder why anyone signs up for such a high-risk position, and not get paid.
“Career or volunteer there is no distinction, other than one guy gets a paycheck and the other one doesn't, but the position for the job is the same," Golbek said.
It's always a struggle to secure funding. Some volunteer departments are more fortunate than others, but Golbek said safety is always number one.
“It is a struggle sometimes, but you make it a priority. The men are number one, so you make sure their equipment is going to take care of them," he said.
The chief said every volunteer would agree that serving the community is worth doing it for free.
Most volunteer departments secure funding through grant money and donations but said it's always a struggle, and there is a lot of behind the scenes work that people in the community will never see.