East Texans trading in retirement to fight fires
Holly Lake Ranch, Wood Co. (KETK) — From the outside, Holly Lake Ranch Fire Department seems like a typical fire station, but this isn't your average department. Most volunteers are around 60 years old. "I'm sure we're still one of the oldest fire departments in the state," said John Cirasola, fire chief. From 38 to 83 years old, this group takes care of Holly Lake plus a 58 mile radius. They're trading in retirement for little pay and long hours. "They're not ready for the couch, and they put a lot in, and everybody has the same attitude. We're a close group," said Cirasola.
"I started off playing golf, and fishing, and i did that for a couple of years, and then i joined the department," said Don Lippke, assistant chief. He said its the people that bring him back to work each year. "Its the group of people, the friendships that you have," said Lippke. "Its just a sense of community and dedication, I don't know why, but they do it and im proud of them," said Cirasola.
With firefighting being a physical job, you may wonder how they do it. Cirasola said,"everybody does what they can, and we manage to get it done and some of the older fellows, they may not be able to do everything they did before or as fast as they did before, but they can do it."
With calls outweighing volunteers, they continue be dedicated to their community. "Most of us are getting up in years and we need some young blood coming in," said Travis Rattan, treasurer. "As long as i feel like i can contribute in some way then i will probably stay with the department," said Lippke.