South Gulf County volunteer fire department offers more than protection

Published: Thursday, August 29, 2013 at 09:33 AM.

The department is always on the hunt for new blood and currently has members as young as 20 all the way up to those in their 70s. Anyone interested in joining can call or visit the station, but Vacco warned that despite the fun factor, fighting fires isn’t a walk in the park.

“You can’t just come in and jump into a fire,” he said. “There’s training—and it’s hard.”

Members are assigned pagers and in the event of emergency, the Gulf County Sheriff’s Department sends out a call. Volunteers use their own transportation and show up if they’re available or are in the area.

“We’ve never not had someone one show up to an emergency,” said Larsen. “I can’t remember ever being short-handed.”

The chiefs applauded their fellow volunteer firefighters for their commitment to the role. Because the department is a not-for-profit organization, members have to pay their own expenses and they never know just what they’ll see when they arrive on scene as a first responder.

“Our primary goal is firefighter safety,” said Larsen. “During a fire, the job is to get people out of the house. Everything else can be replaced.”

 “The dedication is beyond what people could understand,” said Vacco.

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