CHILDERSBURG, Ala. (WIAT) — Emergency calls are going unanswered in several areas as volunteer fire departments face staff shortages.

Lay Lake Fire, a volunteer station in Childersburg, says their need for volunteers is greater now than ever before.

Volunteer members tell CBS 42 their call volume has gone up significantly in the last year, and they simply don’t have the volunteers needed to compensate for the increase.

Lieutenant Dylan Jenkins says volunteer fire stations are becoming a thing of past, but that Lay Lake Fire is doing all they can to stay afloat.

He says the paid fire stations are not able to respond to their community as quickly due to location, so residents need them.

“With us being positioned how we are, we will have a quicker response time,” Lieutenant Jenkins said.

Lieutenant Yancey Brown says they currently have 12 volunteers but need about 20 to function properly. He says they’re looking for anyone in the community who has a heart to serve.

“The incentive is just knowing that if your neighbor that you grew up next to for years has an emergency, they look to you and it’s your responsibility and knowing that you have that sense of community and sense of pride in taking care of your neighbor- That should mean it all,” Lieutenant Brown said.

Abigail Parker is in high school and the only female volunteer. She says it’s an honor to serve.

“It’s not about the girl power,” Parker said. “It’s once you get on that scene it doesn’t matter what gender you are. You’re a firefighter and you’re there to help. It takes serious matter.”

Lieutenant Brown says there’s something for everyone to do at a fire department to include working fires, directing traffic, helping with rehab on scene, and attending to medical calls.

In addition to having multiple avenues, he says this work is promising for each volunteer’s future.

“Showing that you’re a volunteer and that you’re willing to work for free and give those hours back to your community means a lot to even other employers looking to hire,” Lieutenant Brown said.

Lieutenant Jenkins says volunteering led him to a full time career.

“I took that opportunity and went full time with it. So, it made a better life for me and my family,” Lieutenant Jenkins said.

To learn more about how you can become a volunteer, you can visit Lay Lake Fire’s Facebook page, call +1 256-510-2580 or email laylakefire2100@gmail.com