Volunteer fire departments deal with fire danger

NOTASULGA, AL (WSFA) -  Brush fires often come at the worst time of day for the Notasulga Volunteer Fire Department.

"During the day, of course, it's the hardest time being that are so few people available, being an all-volunteer department," said Assistant Chief Andy Ettinger. "The fires often come during the driest part of the day, midday, and that makes it doubly hard."

Ettinger told WSFA 12 News his department has already battled two large brush fires in recent weeks. The forestry commission helped with one of them., but Ettinger says the agency's resources are strained.

"Forestry now is very thin as far as personnel. They've had a severe cutback, even before the end of the fiscal year," Ettinger explained. "They're under enormous pressure to cover more than one county."

The extended period hot and dry weather caused the State Forestry Commission to issue a fire alert for all 67 counties in the state.  It's those temperatures that are making things more difficult for firefighters. 

"You can get dehydrated very quickly, and you have to make sure you stay hydrated," said Chris Johnson, a firefighter with the Notasulga Volunteer Fire Department.  "It's physically exhausting. You can only go so long without just plain giving out with all this equipment on."

Fire Departments across the state are asking people to do their part to keep the situation from getting out of hand.

"Good common sense is what we ask for, said Tony Mitchell, chief of the Snowdoun Volunteer Fire Department in Montgomery County. "You don't need to burn anything with the wind up, because just a gust of wind can take some embers out and make a bad situation quickly."

The State Forestry Commission says during the fire alert it's only issuing burn permits to certified burn managers and large land-clearing companies. 

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