The National Volunteer Fire Council says, 70% of firefighters in the United States are volunteers. And, the need for folks to help their communities is increasing nationwide.
In fact, this has been an ongoing issue in Bastrop County. "But if you're not in the fire service as a family....it's difficult to recruit them. They want to know how much it pays. It doesn't pay anything."
Mizzy Zdroj comes from a family of firefighters. In three weeks she'll move up to become the fire chief for the house of pines volunteer fire department.
Across the street from where she volunteers about 20 hours every week-- is where the 2009 wilderness ridge fire destroyed much of her fire district.
Zdroj says in 2011 the Bastrop County complex fire destroyed 34,000 acres.
"Then we had the 15' fire the Hidden Pines fire 4800 acres, 64 homes almost all the firefighters that didn't lose their homes before lost them subsequently to that fire."
So with all of these tremendous losses, Zdroj says she's hopeful to encourage potential volunteers that there's still so much to gain.
"It's important to get the message out because we don't have a town. We're in between Smithville and Bastrop so we have a more sparsely older dynamic population in our district so recruitment can be difficult. We are aging out. I retire in three years and there's not many young folks that really have that calling to do it."
Right now Zdroj says her department has 14 volunteers.
Over at Bastrop County Fire Department--the chief there Mark Wobus says his department has about 20 volunteers. At his department a staff is paid during the day, but in between shifts and after hours there are volunteers.
"If you recall back in 2011 we had a large fire that occurred here in Bastrop County. We had a decent number of folks in each department across the county after that fire we got an influx of new volunteers. And then it has tapered off from now until this time,” Chief Wobus says.
Both Zdroj and Wobus talk about the previous fires because they both say at any given moment any area is at risk for another one. Since both their departments are volunteer based--as well as Bastrop County ESD 1, Smithville and McDade, they want folks in these areas to understand how badly they need help.
"You give up a lot for this. But you receive what you put in. We are a family. We are always there for each other. We stress honor and so many important things that these young folks might need,” Zdroj says.
Both fire departments FOX 7 spoke with on Friday say just call their department if you’re interested in becoming a volunteer. They ask that you live in the area, or within a few miles so their response times can stay consistent.