Volunteer firefighters put to the test

Volunteer firefighters put to the test
BENTON COUNTY, Wash. -- It's at times like this that the need for volunteer firefighters is so important--- especially when you consider the numbers. Benton County still needs 40 more volunteer firefighters to help fight the flames this year.

Derek Holtmann comes from a family of firefighters. It's what inspired him to become a volunteer firefighter with Benton County.

"Just being little, young, growing up in a fire-oriented family-I knew that's what I wanted to do," he says.

All it took was news of firefighter shortage and Derek signed up in no time.

"When I got here to Tri-Cities, I was looking for that niche and I wanted to give back to the community," he added.

Derek was one of 11 new recruits that came out to the fire training center in Kennewick. The range of tests is meant to see if they have what it takes to be a firefighter.

"This is their physical agility slash phobia type test," says Captain Devin Helland with Benton Fire District one.

Hellend says the County relies on volunteers to not only save thousands of dollars every year, but keep people in the community safe. With the fire season we've seen so far, Captain Helland also says there are never too many volunteers.

"Without the support of the volunteers, you're gonna get that many less people at the scenes of the medical calls, the car wrecks, the fires, the wild-land fires. This town needs their volunteers," he says.

The new recruits pushed through the grueling exercises barely stopping for a rest.
Derek says he's happy just to be a part of it.

“It's always worth it to help people. No matter what you go through. So, just the thought of me getting on with the fire department is absolutely worth it," he says.

If you want to become a volunteer firefighter, you just have to apply at your local fire district station.