SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – May 4th is International Firefighters Day.

According to the International Firefighters Day website, the day commemorates firefighters who have risked or sacrificed their lives to protect their communities.

Aaron Siegrist, the Aurora Rural Fire Protection District Fire Chief, said local fire departments are important to the community because they are the first contacted when people are in trouble.

“Usually, when things go bad, the first people that get called are fire and police,” said Siegrist.

Siegrist says his favorite part of working with the fire department is getting to help people and be part of the community.

He says the fire department has recently hosted open houses at three of their six stations and went out to True Value and Walmart in Aurora to grill hotdogs and get to know people this spring.

Siegrist says the best way to support your local fire department is to get to know your local fire department.

“Get out and get to know your local fire department and police department. They’re all people as well!” Siegrist emphasized.

He said it takes a lot to get a volunteer trained so they can go on calls, especially since most volunteers have other jobs at the same time.

“People don’t realize how much it takes to get a volunteer into gear to respond to medical calls. Most of the time, volunteers have other jobs, so when a call comes in they have to leave their jobs [to respond].”

Still, although Chief Siegrist says the job of a firefighter is difficult and doesn’t “make you rich,” it is still rewarding. “My best day is every day that I get to come to work and help somebody.”

Eric Latimer, Assistant Fire Chief with the Springfield Fire Department, said that no matter the size of the fire department or community, they are all working towards the same goal of keeping people safe.

“No matter what size fire department or what size community, we’re here to put out fires, respond to medical emergencies, respond to crashes. [We are] here to ensure your community is always safe. From volunteer firefighters to career firefighters, we all do the same thing.”

Latimer said the best way for the community to support firefighters is to respond to their messages.

“If our message is to safely cook in your home, we want our community to cook safely in their homes or ask us how to cook safely in their homes.”

Latimer says he encourages people to check their smoke alarms and to reach out to the fire department if they don’t have them installed. He says that going to a house fire and hearing a fire alarm going off is great because they know that likely everyone was able to get out safely.

He says the best part of working with the fire department is working with his coworkers.

“Working with a great group of individuals, working alongside other professionals who have the same humor as you and are working towards the same goal, and that goal is keeping people safe.”

He also said that firefighters like to keep busy at the fire station. “The best day is when you show up at work and run calls from 7 am-7 am for 24 hours.”

Both Latimer and Siegrist agree that firefighters “wear many different hats.”

“From educating the public to showing kids the fire truck, to cutting open cars to get people out; When you’ve been able to impact lives in a positive way, just by giving a fire safety talk, installing a fire alarm, [or] rescuing people from a fire,” said Latimer.

Latimer says that in his 24-year career, he has been able to do all of that in a single day.

“Everybody will say this about their job, but this is the best and most rewarding job,” said Latimer.

The Western Taney County Fire Protection District is looking for volunteer firefighters. You can apply by stopping by station #7 and filling out an application.