More volunteers needed for local fire departments

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PONTOTOC COUNTY, Okla. (KXII) - Tuesday night's fire completely destroyed Francis home, but thanks to volunteer firefighters other homes in the neighborhood weren't damaged.

"We didn't respond as quick as we did, it very well could have moved over to the next house over with the wind blowing, it was heading that way when we got there," Josh Littlefield said.

Francis volunteer fire chief Josh Littlefield says they arrived at this home in minutes.
N one was injured, but a mother and son are now without a home.

Littlefield says the cold dry air and high winds made it difficult to stop the flames, and even though they got there quickly, having more volunteers would have helped their efforts.

"Really it's hard to get volunteers, nobody wants to volunteer anymore," Volunteer Firefighter Marty Canada said.

"It's just hard to get somebody dedicated," Volunteer firefighter Derrell Phillips said.

Phillips established the Francis fire department in the late 1970's and served the department for 40 years.

Phillips and Canada agree it's a tough, but necessary job.

"Pontotoc only has one paid fire department, which would be Ada, so it means they'd have to respond all the way from Ada out here," Canada said.

In fact, there are 15 volunteer fire departments in the county.

They're funded by grants from the state, as well as a 3/16 cent county sales tax, implemented in 2012.

"Keeps our stuff updated, this brand new engine behind was purchased with that," Littlefield said,"I think it saved an extra today it's reliable but that county tax is very important."

Firefighters say it's a difficult job, but being a volunteer means a lot to the community.

"It's kind of like family, a lot of grew up together we care about each other," Littlefield said.

Canada says he hopes more people will step and volunteer in the future.

"Us older ones are getting off and we need older ones newer ones to replace us," He said.