BONIFAY, Fla. (WTVY) -- Bonifay Fire Rescue firefighters jump in the big red trucks and serve their community within minutes all for free. It's a volunteer fire department that has responded to 57 fires, 86 car accidents, and dozens of service calls in 2019.
"When we left the station you can see the column of smoke over the city of Bonifay," said Volunteer Firefighter Jack Griffiths.
Five minutes later Bonifay volunteer firefighters arrive to a fully involved structure fire.
"There's a lot of history in the city Bonifay and it's a small town, so when a house like this burns. It's a tragedy."
Griffiths has been fighting fires for three years and says he's lucky he's never had to face the worst kind of bad ending.
"My first initial thought was there's a high potential for somebody being trapped inside this fire. So, unfortunately, it would not have been a survivable fire, if, if somebody would have been in there.”
Bonifay Fire Rescue serves about seven thousand homes and businesses.
"All timber like these houses here you know they're all wood-sided and when they burn, they go up pretty quick.”
In 2019 the department put in about 1,200 hours, which amounts to 50 days away from family.
"The radio goes off and I leave so I’m leaving home my wife and my two daughters."
"We'll spend an hour on scene structure fire, but we'll come back to the station and have two hours’ worth of cleaning"
"One thing we're really really lucky to have is the equipment we have is all absolutely top of the line packs we have thermal imaging cameras."
Griffiths is also thankful for a state grant totaling $850,000. The station will double in size. It's all in an effort to give the best service.
"We were on scene within three and a half minutes, and we had water on the fire within five minutes from the time of dispatch."
They served 542 calls in 2018 and 367 this year but to continue saving lives Griffiths pleads for more people to join.
"Volunteer fire service in America in particular is seeing a constant decline. The members are aging and they're not being replaced with new younger people. It's a great thing to get into it can lead you into a career of being a professional firefighter, but small towns have small volunteer fire departments and they need people."