Volunteer Firefighters: Balancing Blaze Battles And Work

Hundreds of firefighters have been risking their safety for ours during the firestorm across Texoma. A large portion of them are volunteering their time.

Matthew Maynard has been a volunteer for the Bowman Fire Department for about two years.  Friday morning he was working on a project for C and I Electronics when he got a call about the fires in Archer County.  When he took off, he says his co-workers on the project didn't mind at all.

"It's best to look out for the community, to help out where you can, and this is our way of helping out.  Everybody understands that," he said.

But what's more is Matthew works with two other volunteer firefighters, as well, and all three of them left work last week.  Their employer, Russell Horn, says they were happy to make accommodations.

"We've got 43 people.  All of them are great at what they do, so three is not that big a deal," he said.

Kris Womack has only been battling blazes for about six months, but he wasn't intimidated to ask his boss for time off.
"With the high winds and stuff, they kind of understood it already and asking for the time off wasn't a big deal," he said.

When we asked if the volunteer firefighters at the surveillance and alarm company were paid for their time off, Russell said it's worked out on an individual basis. The employees felt they've always been treated fairly when it comes to missing work for the fires.  Kris says other firefighter's employers work with them too.

"It seems like it's pretty smooth for everybody.  I think most employers are pretty reasonable.  When it comes to fighting wild land fires they understand people's livelihoods are in jeopardy," he said.

Russell's company is honored to let the volunteers leave work to save life and property.

"We have no problem with that at all.  We're very proud of our volunteer fire department employees," he said.

Other volunteer departments we spoke with have mostly self-employed volunteers.  Kris says he has a high respect for those workers, because they lose out on both time and money when they're away from the job.