Volunteer Firefighters Suit Up - News and Weather For The Quad Cities -

Volunteer Firefighters Suit Up

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It happens every day across the QCA. Men and women with local fire departments put on their uniforms and respond to emergencies. And many times the firefighters suiting up are volunteers.

Like those with the Eldridge Fire Department, recently fighting four big fires in just one month, and doing it for free. "It's a pretty tough hobby," Brandon Askew tells us. But it's one crews we talked to can't imagine giving up. "To me it's exciting," Drew Liske says, "Kind of the adrenaline rush. Just serving the community is what I want to do." Something he, and nearly two dozen others, are willing to work for.

They train twice a month, suiting up, making entry and pulling hose. Joe Collins says, "You got an incident, you go in. You don't know what to expect. You train as best as you can, practice like this, but there are too many unknowns." Like if there are power lines in walls and what the best way to get through them is. Because in the heat of the moment, every second counts.

Whether it's a business fire, a blaze at someone's home or a medical emergency, firefighters are paged and they go. Chief Tyler Schmidt says, "That could be anytime during the day, whether you're at home sleeping at night, whether you're eating dinner with your family, or anywhere you're at."

But crews are always responding in the community they call home. Collins says, "It's a way to give back to the community that's given all of us so much." He's working on his 14th year as a volunteer firefighter, a full-time paramedic. Assistant Chief Dave Engler is an IT person, brought here by the best man at his wedding nearly 20 years ago.

Others like construction worker Drew Liske, on the job just over a year and working to become a full-time firefighter, are following the trail blazed by relatives. "My dad's actually a firefighter in Davenport," Liske says, "He actually started out here as well." So did Schmidt's father and his grandfather. He tells us, "My children come up now and help the same way I did, so I'm hoping they'll want to pursue a career in firefighting as well."

It's tough work they all tell us, but worth it. "I get to see and do things, and be witness to things that are at times unbelievable," Collins says. "And you see miracles once in awhile."

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