Manpower Thin Against Rural Grass Fires, Departments Say
RAMONA, Oklahoma - As grass fires continue to be an almost daily occurrence, some volunteer firefighters across Green Country say they do not have enough manpower.
The Ramona Fire Department, like many other departments in Green County, rely solely on volunteers.
And with a small volunteer staff, it’s the teamwork between other departments that can make the difference.
The Ramona Fire Department sprung into action Thursday afternoon when a grass fire ignited just outside the city limits.
Three other area departments also raced to the scene to help.
"Fortunately to the north side of this fire there was a canal that allowed a good fire break, the canal has water in it that really gave us a good advantage," said Ramona Firefighter Kenneth Bond.
The firefighter's fast response and flawless teamwork helped them get the fire under control quickly.
But it could have been a different story. If first responders from four different departments hadn’t arrived on scene fast enough and with enough people, the flames could have spread.
"We do struggle with volunteers, with Ramona Fire Department we have a staff of 12 firefighters," said Kenneth Bond.
Departments like Ramona’s rely on area departments for back up whether it's during the day or in the middle of the night.
Many times, firefighters race to the scene, not knowing who is going to respond or if they'll have backup.
"Availability is difficult, so when the tones drop you may get most of the department or you may get just a couple of firefighters to handle the call," said Bond.
Bond said maintaining a working and positive relationship with other departments is the ultimate key to fighting fires and most importantly, saving lives.
"Most of our volunteers personal they have day jobs just like myself, so we're gone some of us work nights, some of us work days," Bond said.
"It's more of a calling than anything, your hearts gotta be in it,” Bond said.
And although Ramona Fire has a full staff, many other volunteer departments around the state are not as lucky.
The Ramona Fire Department said they are always taking applications.