Volunteer firefighters are in high demand


CHAMPAIGN COUNTY, Ill. (WCIA) – Volunteer firefighters are in high demand across the country. That was on display at a massive house fire in Savoy Sunday night.

It happened on Winterberrty road between Summerbrook and Astoria Drives.

At least 5 other volunteer departments from the county helped Savoy. They said it wasn’t because of lack of equipment, but lack of man power.

Even though the fire was in Savoy, those firefighters weren’t the only ones on scene. They said it was all hands-on deck.

Eddie Bain with Savoy Fire said places like Eastern Prairie, Bondville, and Tolono were also there.

Chris Humer is Tolono’s fire chief. He said sights like that aren’t unique

“That’s a normal fire that you’ll see in a non-paid department, especially here in Champaign County. It’s not uncommon for a volunteer community to have 5, 6 plus other agencies there helping,” Humer said.

He said when they arrive to help, it’s about more than just extra equipment.

“It’s not necessarily the equipment, it’s the people. Especially now with it getting warmer, people get tired, you need to rotate those crews through. So, having those neighboring departments and those good working relationships are key to your success,” he said.

Humer said each department gets the call no matter where the emergency is happening. Sometimes they get on scene, and another department is just minutes behind.

“In the volunteer fire service, that’s huge. We rely a lot on our neighboring communities to help us, and then we go help them whenever we need them.”

He said since they are having a harder time recruiting people, it’s nice to know departments around the county have their back.

“Those neighboring departments coming and helping during those times when you may have only a handful of people in town available are hugely important,” he said.

Humer said numbers have been going down for years, and they couldn’t recruit in person because of COVID. So, that made things worse.

Tolono has 22 volunteers right now, but they would like to be around 30. The majority of calls come in during the day, when so many are working their day jobs. That’s why they lean on other departments for help.

You can help the family whose house was completely destroyed in the fire. They have a Go-Fund-Me, here.

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