JONES COUNTY, Miss. - Have you ever wanted to volunteer for your community to make a difference? It is something most think about doing, some give money to charity, and others their time, either route has a huge impact.
The Jones County Volunteer and Fire Rescue Department trains soon-to-be volunteers year round, they train in a classroom setting before their state exam, and when available the department has controlled burns for their students to gain experience.
Chasity Weathersby, a student, said, "Not a lot of women do it, and the ones that do are very empowering, and I met a few of them."
Each of the students here want to become a pillar for their community, all for different reasons.
Weathersby's drive to become a volunteer firefighter comes from her son. She said, "I have a little boy, I kinda want to be that hero for him."
Brett Stewart, a student, served 8 years in the military and wanted to serve his local community too.
"I wanted to come home and serve my community, I am not scared, I am not afraid of fire, I need to be the best I can be for my community."
The department hardly comes across vacant properties that owners want to donate for community training purposes, when the opportunity does arise it takes advantage to teach their students.
Jones County Fire Coordinator, Dan McKenna said, "You look at stuff, but until you actually get down to the live fire scenario, that is where everything comes together for them."
All students receive 200 hours of classroom time and prop training, but hands on experience readily prepares them for the real situation.
He further said, "They understand, what you mean, when they say, hit the base of the fire with a straight stream."
Stewart said, "This is probably the best thing we could have done, we can sit and look at a book constantly, which is good, theory is great, I understand that it is useful." He added, "But actually being inside a house and watching the fire grow, you cannot beat that, that is the best kind of training there is."
Both Stewart and Weathersby are hoping to leave a lasting imprint in their class, before officially serving Jones county.
Brett added, "The community benefits from this completely, because you're training firefighters in an environment that they will most likely be in."
These volunteer firefighters are on-call 24/7, day and night, they go awhile without sleep, but to them its totally worth it.
(Update: Since this story aired, the students of the Jones County Volunteer Fire Department passed the state exam and are now certified volunteers for Jones county.)