APPLEBY, TX (KTRE) - Volunteer firefighters try their hardest to respond to emergencies, but always can't when they're at work on their regular jobs. There's a move now by some departments to hire paid staff. One East Texas community reached that goal, beginning Monday.
Firefighter Kelcey Trotty stepped right into his paying job at the Appleby Volunteer Fire Department. "I've been a member of the volunteer side for ten years, so this is kinda like coming up here, hanging out for the day, but we're getting paid for it now," said Trotty.
The Longview firefighter rotates on his days off with ten other paid firefighters. Most of them also come from other fire departments or EMT services. They man the station 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day. They're supplementing volunteers. "It's hard to get daytime response because people have eight to five jobs," said Trotty. "Just having to pay guys here means we can get the truck out of here quicker."
Volunteers usually hit the road within five minutes. Paid staff roll in less than a minute. "Depending on what the person needs we'll be able to have that started, have that care initiated, anywhere from five to ten, maybe fifteen minutes before the ambulance arrives," said Chief Tim Hooper with Appleby Fire Department.
This crew wasn't called out this first day, but they know the day will come when they are. "We've run 291 calls this year," said Justin Shull, now a paid firefighter. "Just an assortment of medical calls and structure fires. That's also giving mutual aide to the neighboring departments."
Appleby joins a growing number of volunteer departments with paid staff. They're not replacing volunteers, only helping them out.
Many of the paid firefighters also serve as volunteers. Appleby's next goal is to have paid staff on night side.