Volunteer firefighters risk their lives for the good of others


GRAY COUNTY, Kan. (KSNW) – They are ordinary people, doing extraordinary work. In western Kansas, numerous community members volunteer their time to fight fires and protect others. 

Volunteer firefighters earn little to no compensation. They don’t risk their lives for the money, but rather for the good of their neighbor.

Gray County fire chiefs Jon Goossen and Justin Ohman, have volunteered for a combined 34 years, sacrificing their lives for others. 

“It’s not about us, it’s about what you can do for everybody else,” said Justin Ohman, Ingalls Fire Chief and Nutrien Ag Solutions Transportation Specialist.

Their crews are made up of farmers, hardware store workers, truckers, brothers, husbands, and dads, all focused on giving back.

“This is just a, just a small way that I can give back to what the community has given me,” said Jon Goossen, Montezuma Fire Chief and farmer.

Gray County has five rural fire departments and with the enhanced fire risk across the state, their crews have been on high alert.

The men readied the trucks and are prepared to leave their day jobs at a moments notice. 

“Our tones go off and we’re up and we’ll leave our families, hug and kiss them, we’ll be out the door, heading to help somebody else,” said Ohman.

When asked why they risk their lives for others?

“Cause I love our community,” said Goossen.

Receiving a priceless form of payment.

“We were able to help somebody else and help get them home to their families safely,” said Ohman.

Many of these men have extinguished fires, protecting those they grew up with or have known for years. 

At the end of the day, 10-24 is the code the men wait to hear. It means they get to go home to their families and their jobs are done at least until there’s another fire. 

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