ACCOMACK COUNTY, Va. (WAVY) - Fire departments on the Eastern Shore are putting out a plea for volunteer firefighters, and local teens are answering the call.
An average of 20 volunteer firefighters responded to each fire since mid-November, and they stay on scene for almost three hours, racking up 3,700 hours in almost four months.
"At times it's been pretty tough," Onley Volunteer Fire Chief Billy Ferguson, who has been with the department since 1977 told WAVY.com. "I've had some sleep deprivation occasionally. But, out of trouble you can find triumph."
The triumph comes with the newest members of the Onley crew. They are just starting their firefighting careers during the most trying of times.
"Everything that was happening made me think I should go out and help the community a little bit," 17-year-old David Strautz said. He signed up last month to train to become a firefighter.
Crews across the Eastern Shore are tired and are paging out for more man power.
"In the back of my mind, I always thought it would be cool to join a fire company," 19-year-old Kelsie Cobb said. Cobb also volunteered to join the Onley Volunteer Fire Department last month.
New members like Cobb are quickly learning that the life of a firefighter is hard work.
"There is a lot of maintenance work on the trucks," Kyle Linton, 16, said. "There's a lot more than just going to fight fires."
Linton and the rest of the newcomers will work behind the scenes until they are certified to be on the front lines, which takes about six months.
Chief Ferguson says signing up will be some they won't regret.
"It's a job you love doing," Ferguson said.
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