Geneva wildfire oct 10

Firefighters contained this brushfire in Geneva County Thursday, one of 173 in Alabama so far this month, as continuing drought conditions turn the state into a tinderbox.

Anyone who’s been paying attention knows we’ve been in the proverbial long, dry spell. It has farmers worried, as a bone-dry field is tough to turn over, and when it is, the crops in the soil may not have much yield.

Another concern is that a long period without rain makes an area more vulnerable to out-of-control fires. The entire state is under a fire alert issued last month, and there have already been hundreds of fires destroying acreage across the state.

Last week, numerous area fire departments spent hours fighting wildfires in Geneva County, finally bringing the conflagrations under control. We don’t want to sound like alarmists, but those firefighters are literally all that stand between our communities and raging, all-consuming blazes like those that blister California.

We appreciate the too-often unsung work of all firefighters. But we’d like to tip our hat to volunteer firefighters in particular.

The men and women who staff the volunteer fire departments in the rural areas of Alabama epitomize public service. Many of them keep turnout gear in the personal vehicles so that they can respond faster if a call comes in. We’ve reported on volunteer departments whose service is so effective it’s improved the insurance rating in their communities, effectively lowering the rate their friends and neighbors must pay for fire protection.

Sadly, many of these departments struggle for funding to remain viable, keep their vehicles roadworthy, and their safety gear up to snuff. These men and women serve with little or no compensation, and the departments gather funding from a variety of sources – including donations. Still, many of them find time to participate in charitable fundraising for worthy causes other than their own.

We encourage residents to look into their local volunteer fire organization and see what they can do to help. Their contributions to our communities are priceless, and deserve acknowledgement.

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