Video: Answering the all-too-familiar question, ‘Why do you volunteer?’

After a series of difficult calls, one South Carolina volunteer created a video that seeks to answer the question – and inspire others to volunteer

FireRescue1 Voices is a place where firefighters across the country can speak up, tell their stories about difficult calls and voice their opinions. If you want to share your story with the FireRescue1 community, please review our submission guidelines and email

By Doug Mixson, Jr.

I am a volunteer firefighter in Colleton County, South Carolina.

Lately, my department has experienced some very hard calls. Some of those calls are the kind you wish you could erase from your memory. As a result, I have had several people approach me and ask, “Doug, why do you volunteer as a firefighter?” Or “Doug, how do you do what you do?” So, I took the time to sit down and ponder those questions.

You could call this video my official response when someone asks me that question from now on.

I hope this video inspires volunteers to stop and think about why they do what they do, and I hope the result ignites a fire in them to keep going and keep making a difference in the community.  

I also hope the video touches those who do not volunteer in any capacity, inspiring them to consider volunteer firefighting – or becoming a volunteer anywhere. Truly the core value for me behind volunteering is doing it for someone who can do nothing in return when they are possibly at the lowest point in their life.

I would like to dedicate this video to Fire Chief Gene Rushing of Hampton County South Carolina. He was a tireless servant to those around him and strove to be a role model to countless firefighters in South Carolina and surrounding states until the day he died. And I thank my wife, Jennifer, for her unwavering support. In our nearly 17 years of marriage, not once have I heard her complain about me being a volunteer – and for that I am thankful.  

About the Author

Doug Mixson, Jr., a volunteer firefighter in Colleton County, South Carolina. He became a junior firefighter at 14, went through the South Carolina Fire Academy at 16, and has now been a volunteer for 20+ years, serving as a volunteer station captain in Colleton County at Station #23.

Recommended for you

Join the discussion

Copyright © 2021 FireRescue1. All rights reserved.