EAGLE -- Recent events have brought to life the heroism of first responders. A number of those first responders were volunteer firefighters, who put themselves in danger without being paid to help others.

With wildfire season approaching, KTVB looked in to the volunteers the fight fires here in Idaho, and the big part they play in keeping us and our families safe.

The Deputy Chief Scott Buck of the Eagle Fire District said on Tuesday, they had four volunteers and eight paid firefighters working. However, he said that's a smaller percentage of volunteers than most departments in the state.

They're very important. Without the volunteers we couldn't operate. We use the volunteers in the intern role, and they actually provide either the third or fourth man on the engine, said Buck.

Buck said they hold the volunteers to the same standard as the career firefighters. They have continuing education and a wildland fire refresher training. Everybody gets the same training regardless of whether they're career or volunteer. Once you get on that apparatus, you wouldn't know the difference.

He also said it's a big time commitment, so a lot of the volunteers are younger people getting started in firefighting. Along with the time, they're also taking on the risk.

There's a small stipend that they do get for working a shift. But for the risk that they're taking, it's not a lot, Buck said. And many departments throughout the state there's a lot of those departments that are true volunteer departments where they don't receive compensation.

In Eagle, they are 20 to 30 percent volunteers according to Buck, and he said that generally the more rural areas have a higher percentage of volunteers.

If you went to Gem County, for instance, the rural fire district, Gem County Fire District One, their fire chief is full time and the city has a full time fire chief, but everybody else is a volunteer. So you're looking at a 90 percent or 95 percent volunteer pool in those communities.

Buck knows all about volunteer firefighting as he started his career in firefighting as a volunteer in Emmett.

The Idaho Volunteer Fire and Emergency Services Association says about 80 percent of firefighters in Idaho are volunteers.

For more information about becoming a volunteer firefighter, check out the The Idaho Volunteer Fire & Emergency Services Association or the Idaho Fireline.

Read or Share this story: