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Geismar volunteer firefighters paying more out of pocket as gas prices increase
GEISMAR - Current gas prices not only affect our everyday commute, but it’s also causing problems for first responders.
Firefighters with the Geismar Volunteer Fire Department, which services about ten thousand people, are having to pay out of pocket to fill their personal vehicles to make it to calls.
"They're not going to sit around and say, 'well, we are not running the calls because the price of gas is too high.' That's not going to happen, but it’s a challenge," explained Chief Nat Stephens.
The volunteer firefighters are not paid for their services, and a lot of their personal gas money comes out of pocket.
"This is going to take sacrifices on part of the firefighters. They may not get to spend as much on a lottery ticket, or they might not get to go fishing," Chief Stephens said.
When a call requires an engine, firefighters will drive one.
"There's a system set up in place where the parish pays for the gas for the engines and all the firefighter apparatus," he explained.
But a lot of their calls don't require an engine.
"A lot of fire firefighters will have their bunker gear and some medical bags in their own personal vehicles depending on the nature of the call. They will directly respond to the call. Firefighters are personally responsible for the gas in their vehicles," he said.
This means the recent surge in gas prices is costing first responders more and more to do a job they love.
"It takes a special individual to want to do it. It's a personal sacrifice that these men and women have to endure," the chief explained.
Chief Stephens was clear the price increases are a problem, but it's not stopping them from answering the call for help.
"I can almost assure you that even if a guy's at the gas pump and his pager goes off, he's going to quit pumping gas in his car, come and get some apparatus, and respond to the call," Stephens said.
Here's how the chief says you can respond for the Geismar Volunteer Fire Department.
"Pray for the health and well-being of our first responders and we always, course it's everybody's curse, we need money, and we need volunteers," he said. "If you see a firefighter out, and you want to give them a hug and tell them thank you for their service, that's great, but slip them a gas card also."
Chief Stephens is also working on a digital way people can pitch in as well.
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