Volunteer Firefighters Fight Germann Road Fire

By KBJR News 1

May 17, 2013 Updated May 18, 2013 at 1:37 PM CDT

Barnes, WI (NNCNOW.com) - Because the Germann Road Fire burned in mostly rural areas, many of the responding agencies were volunteer fire departments. The firefighters were tasked with saving structures, like homes. Some put themselves at risk while not even getting paid.

"They were pretty much working around the clock. The first night, Tuesday night, I don't think I even got an hour of sleep," said Barnes Fire Chief, Tom Renz.

Barnes was one of many volunteer departments which worked alongside the DNR during the Germann Road Fire.

The largest fire the area has seen in three decades sent the firefighters on a mission to save whichever structures, whichever homes, they could. All while working their regular jobs too.

"Most of them came here from work, after work or left work to come here," said Renz.

"Almost all of them worked until about six the next morning and a lot of them had to go to work the next day," said Gordon Fire Chief, Mike Chmielecki.

Of the Gordon Fire Department's 15 firefighters, none are paid.

"We just do it to volunteer," Chmielecki said.

It's some of the most intense volunteer work most could imagine, and the Fire Chiefs say it's sometimes difficult to recruit new firefighters.

But for those willing to volunteer, they say everything accomplished is more than worth their while.

"Ther's a lot of pride in what we do. Every man on this department, every woman on this department, takes pride in what we do," said Renz.

Coming up on Monday, the Northland's NewsCenter will take a look at why there is a shortage of volunteers in some rural fire departments and one Northland organization's effort to recruit more.