ELLERSLIE, GA (WTVM) - As the weather gets colder, volunteer firefighters have a message for those hanging up decorations or even trying to stay warm.
They say as temperatures continue to drop, there’s a higher risk for home fires. They say it’s not always easy to get volunteers to get the job done.
“You never know when a big fire is going to break out in a house. Just the average house catches on fire, it takes a lot of manpower,” says Ellerslie Volunteer Fire Chief Skip Wyatt.
He’s worked for the Ellerslie Volunteer Fire Department for more than 15 years. He says during this busy winter season, they’re always welcoming volunteers.
“When something goes bad, you never know who’s available. You need as many people as you can. Volunteers are hard to come by, but they’re not hard to come by. It’s just getting them to want to help the community,” says Wyatt.
He says volunteer fire services around the area are short staffed. Working for a volunteer fire service is not a paid position.
“Even though we don’t get paid, that’s a way for me to give back to my community. I feel grateful for doing that,” says volunteer firefighter Jerome Williams.
Many of these workers have other jobs they have to get to or may even be out of town. They say there’s always a need for more volunteers to show up to emergency calls.
“The more you have, the better the call ratio that you have showing up to the calls. Maybe someone would be off during the day and able to catch the calls while some are working and unable to make it,” says Williams.
According to the National Fire Protection Agency, heating is the second leading cause of U.S. home fires with December, January, and February being the peak months for those fires. Wyatt says to avoid them, they’re encouraging people to all have smoke detectors and to be careful with everyday household items.
“When it’s colder, you see more fires due to electric space heaters and chimneys that don’t get clean. Right now, Christmas lights are a big deal and even candles that drip and catch on fire,” says Wyatt.
They say electrical reasons are also a leading cause for home fires. Chief Wyatt says staying safe is the priority and anyone who wants to help others stay safe is always welcomed to sign up as a volunteer.