Triad volunteer firefighters pay out of pocket to fuel fire trucks hit hard by rising gas prices

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HIGH POINT, NC (WGHP) – Financial pressure from rising fuel costs is impacting volunteer firefighters. Often they have to pay for their own gas and use their personal vehicle.

During her normal work week, Jody Vestal works for the High Point Fire Department. On weekends, he is a volunteer fire chief at the Fall Creek Fire Department in Yadkin County. This station relies heavily on volunteers.

As an on-call volunteer, Vestal uses his personal vehicle and buys his own gasoline to travel to and from the fires. It’s an additional cost that he always had, but now it’s been doubled.

“At the current rate of gas prices, it’s extremely difficult because you’re already reacting to something that you’re not being compensated for. So every time the pager goes off and you get a call, you’re really using money out of your pocket,” Vestal said.

This is a problem faced by volunteer-run fire stations in several small counties as the number of firefighters continues to increase and the number of volunteers declines.

As rising gas prices force many people to park their cars, volunteer firefighters are turning to driving, making the safety of their communities a top priority.

“I was 24 years ago when gas was a dollar. I’ll be there hopefully if gas hits $5, $6. Because to me, if my neighbor has an emergency, I’d hate to not not go and help my neighbor in time of need. As long as I can afford it financially, I will respond. Vestale said.

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