WILLIAMS (CBS13) – Some of the first responders to the sand fire were fronts Williams Fire Protection Authority In Colusa County.
It’s a small department. There are 40 men and 34 women volunteers. At this time of year, they’re putting in long hours, and in some cases, locally, no pay. There are 40,000 firefighters in California and one-third are volunteers.
More are needed.
Each summer, it takes an army of firefighters to battle wildfires.
“It’s a way to give back to the community and it was something I really wanted to do,” said volunteer firefighter Ashley Roschetzky
Last year, Roschetzky decided her job as a parts rep wasn’t enough and decided to join the Williams Fire Protection Authority.
“Williams is a small community and we have each other’s backs,” she said.
There are 39 firefighters; five are paid and the rest volunteer. So no pay, and they have to commit to up to 200 hours of training.
Firefighters trained Monday in some of Woodland’s overgrown city lots.
“They are out here beside every paid pro doing the exact same job,” said Williams Fire Chief Jeff Gilbert.
Gilbert says his crew were some of the first responders to this weekend’s Sand Fire.
“It’s so important to be able to get local resources there and get that dire when is small,” he said.
He says the work smaller fire departments do is critical but there has been a burnout nationwide over the last decade with 10 percent fewer going into the profession nationwide.
“It’s tough to market to new volunteers when everyone is so busy in life,” said Gilbert.
But for the right person it’s the right job and given the last two fire seasons, it’s the right time.
“If I can put some time to help others in need, that’s something I am more than happy to do,” said Roschetzky.
Local volunteer firefighters can work for other jurisdictions like Cal Fire and make some good money. Two of the Williams firefighters worked 1,000 hours in four months at base rate of $31 and hour.