The Columbia Fire Department is always looking for volunteers to work at the numerous stations around the area.
Morgan Craver began volunteering last year, and says every time he's at the station is beneficial to a career as a firefighter.
Matt O'Brian has always wanted to be a firefighter, so volunteering was a no-brainer.
By Chris Mullooly
Morgan Craver stands in front of one of the four fire trucks at station #30 on Burdrell Rd in Columbia.
“Who doesn’t like riding in the truck, lights and sirens blaring, to go help somebody? Who doesn’t like to actually get to fight a fire or help somebody on their worst day? It’s all around a great experience.”
Craver is a junior at USC who volunteers as a firefighter. He’s had the opportunity to stand neck-and-neck with house fires and trauma victims for two years, Carver says he's constantly learning from full-time firefighters he works with.
The Columbia fire department has 130 volunteer firefighters, with about one-third of them being USC students. These volunteers have to fulfill a specific amount of hours a month, but can choose how they fill those hours based on their class schedule.Whether it’s for the future, or for the now, volunteers want to make the experience as good as possible.
Matt O’Brian, a USC sophomore studying business is also a fire department volunteer. Hea and Carver say their passion for keeping their community safe and for firefighting as a whole has them coming back every week.
“I get to practice my skills more before I get to go back home and do it for a career for the rest of my life,” says O’Brian.
"I always thought of this as a backup plan to the military, but now that I'm exploring it more and more, it's becoming more of an option to become my career,” says Craver.
Station #30 is a four-man station, all full-time firefighters. Volunteers helping them clean the station, check the inventory and make sure everything is working in the station and on the firetrucks.
When a call comes in, the volunteers are on the move. Each call has its own set of obstacles, and it’s not always easy.
When hurricane Matthew hit South Carolina, Craver and other volunteers worked around the clock to help the many calls they were receiving.
“I worked a 20-hour shift. That’s nothing compared to the guys who worked the flood last year. I just did what I could,” says Craver.
Whether it’s a hurricane, or a false fire alarm, the firefighters will be there, and volunteers help out just as much as someone who fights fires for a living.