By Marla Ogletree

In a large county like Charlton, the community has come to heavily rely on first responders, especially the Charlton County Fire Rescue. Whether it is a house call, a brush fire, or even battling prairie fires at the Okefenokee, citizens know they will answer the call.

Volunteers make up approximately 67 percent of fire services in the United States, but this number is rapidly declining.

“Volunteers are an intricate part of what allows us to cover fires in our county,” said Fire Chief C.L. Lewis.

The decline is a nation-wide trend. With the modern family’s ever-growing schedule, there is less and less time to volunteer. But the state is trying to make it easier on those who would like to offer their time.

In-house training is now being offered for FireRescue1. There are also programs which pave a way for paid positions in other career departments. 

In this line of work, volunteers also make life-long friendships and go home with the satisfaction of helping others at their darkest time.

“You’re proud to know you’re helping friends and family in their time of need,” stated Lewis.

Currently, CCFR has around 45 volunteers, but with a county this spread out, there is a need for about 72 total. 

“Ideally, you would want about 18 volunteers at the scene to help, but we still need 54 not at the scene to help cover any additional fires that may come at the same time,” he said,

If you or anyone you know may be interested in volunteering, contact Chief Lewis at 496-3111.

“It’s not easy, but the reward of helping others is worth all the hard work,” shared the chief.

With the current shortage, citizens can take extra measures to make responding a little easier.

•Make sure your address number is able to be seen from the road.

•Give dispatch clear directions and information.

•In times of fire, get out of the house and stay out.

•Have a plan for your home for you and your children to get out safely.

Chief Lewis also shared, “The Red Cross works with people who may need smoke detectors.”

For more information, contact someone at the Fire Department at 496-496-3111.