Fire chiefs working in unincorporated parts of Doña Ana County are in need of a hero — or a few good heroes. The stations, which rely solely on the volunteers who step forward to help out their communities.
Michael Conover is the Station Chief in Chaparral, “We have a great need for volunteers,” he said. Conover would know. He’s been struggling to find consistent volunteers for the community station for quite some time.
“We’ve been looking for able-bodied volunteers to join our volunteer fire service,” Doña Ana County Fire Chief Nicholas Hempel said. “It’s always a revolving door of people.”
With 18 stations across the county, volunteers are needed anywhere from Santa Teresa to Chaparral and even up into Garfield.
“Sometimes we find ourselves pulling some pretty long shifts and on some calls, we need some extra hands,” Hempel said.
One of the obstacles is that each community needs enough volunteers to be able to rotate shifts and not wear any of their volunteers out. “If you can pull five or six from a small community, not enough to run a fire department. So things that we look at are people who are willing to give their time. Spend a shift, a weekend day or weekend night at the fire station, so they can run calls in the community,” said Hempel.
Some young volunteer firefighters began serving their communities and found a passion for a career in the meantime. Martin Soriano with the Anthony Fire Station is one of them. “I’m a volunteer, been at it for a year.”
For Soriano, the lure of joining law enforcement was once his main goal, but after he was encouraged to volunteer at the station he said he “fell in love with it and actually right now I’m in the hiring process to work in fire and make this my career.”
Volunteer firefighters respond to more than just fires. They are often the first ones to arrive during a flooding emergency, medical emergency or other events where they’re often the first to help their neighbors who they grew up with, live next door to and in some cases are even related to.
“It’s insanely rewarding,” Soriano said.
If you’re looking for an opportunity to help serve your community, consider joining Doña Ana County Fire. Find out more about becoming a volunteer firefighter by CLICKING HERE.