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  • Alexis Padilla, Northeast Arkansas News

Firefighting for Free

For Kyle Beeson the Southridge Volunteer Fire Department has been a part of his life since he was a kid.

“Muscle memory came in got my turnouts on, got ready, started help pulling hose and that kind of stuff”, said Beeson recalling his first house fire.

Now 18, he has decided to make it a part of his purpose after the first time he got called out to a house fire, “That’s when I first realized this is real, I’m really getting into it. I’m here to do a job and I’m getting it done”.

The difference between the Southridge Volunteer Department and a regular department is their pay and age requirements.

Volunteers only have to be 18, but they’re on call constantly.

The moment their pager goes off they respond, no matter what they’re doing or the time.

“If my house was on fire I would want them to come to my house. So, I have to give that same respect to the community. So, if that means I have to leave my family or if I have to leave a movie or whatever, a dinner, then we’ll do it cause that’s what we’ve signed on to do”, said Lieutenant Chris Nugent.

Volunteer firefighters go through the same training and testing that happens at a real department.

Lieutenant Nugent makes sure they are trained for all types of fires from car, to single room, multi story, and multi fire.

The Southridge firefighters volunteer their time for free. Yet, the station is in need of money. It is impossible for the station to run without grants and donations.

“That’s a big thing we rely on is our community businesses to donate to us to help us out with equipment, supplies. We’ve had people donate water to us during the summers. We have random citizens that will just show up and they’re having a good month or they’re having a good year and so they feel the need to donate to us. We gladly accept that because any little bit of that helps us”, said Nugent.

Other than donations, there is another thing the department needs, “People. I mean just come out on Thursday nights and try to help out. Every person, a helping set of hands is great. So every Thursday at 7 o’clock come down try it out”, said volunteer Josh Lipsey.

Southridge currently has 18 active members.

Each of them saying they joined with a calling to help people.

“Showing up when every hope they have could be gone and you’re there to help them. You’re not asking for anything. You just like to see that smile on their face knowing someone’s there to help”, said Lipsey.


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