Volunteer firefighters exhausted but share pride in serving their communities

Local

BURRTON, Kan. (KSNW) – Being a volunteer firefighter means low to no pay and long hours.

“It’s just the love of community, and we have that here with our crews. It’s pride,” said Rodney Redinger, a volunteer firefighter Burrton District Five.

Redinger started volunteering in high school. He’s now with Kansas Forest Service and works with Burrton District Five whenever he can.

“They are tired — yes, we had mutual aid in Reno (county) and Rice yesterday,” Redinger said.

Eric Ward is based out of Manhattan with Kansas Forest Service and closely monitors volunteers.

“I’ve asked this question for years because they just keep coming back, why do they volunteer?” said Ward. “Right no, they are all probably exhausted.”

Ward said with grass fires in both Rice and Reno counties, the volunteers are coordinated to keep enough in their own communities.

“They always respond when needed,” said Ward. “But with very few exceptions almost every department needs more help.”

KSN asked Ward what it will take to find more volunteers.

“If somebody could come up with a perfect answer to that — they could be rich because that’s the question a lot of departments are asking every day of the week,” said Ward. “How can we get more interested in doing this?”

Redinger said he kicked around with his father in Burrton when he was very young.

“At the age of 10, who doesn’t want to hang around a fire truck?” said Redinger. “But I got interested and I hope we can teach more young people to keep it going. This is about pride. This is about community.”

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