A national shortage of volunteer firefighters is hitting close to home, most Southeast Texans are protected only by Volunteer Fire Departments.

These volunteer firefighters get service phone calls late at night or while having dinner with the family, and for one volunteer firefighter in Hardin County Volunteer Fire Department, serving the community means so much more.

"The reason I wanted to be a firefighter comes from my brother, who was sick with cancer," says Mark Seagrest.

Inspired by a challenge, Seagrest joined the Hardin County Volunteer Fire Department.

"This community raised a lot of money for him and I wanted to give back to the community," he says.

It's a form of giving back to those who once helped him.

"Being a volunteer firefighter is rewarding," Seagrest says.

But there's one spark of interest slowly going away, the willingness to serve as a volunteer firefighter.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, there has been a national drop of nearly 15 percent in volunteers.

This change hitting close to home in Southeast Texas, of the 64 fire departments in Jefferson, Orange, Jasper, Newton, Hardin, Tyler, and Chambers County, 52 of them are run by volunteers.

It's volunteers like Seagrest, who would risk their lives for their service to others.

"It's rewarding and an honor," Seagrest says.

Jefferson County's ESD 1 serves the Bevil Oaks area.

ESD 3 serves China, Nome, and Meeker.

ESD 4 serves the Labelle-Fannett and Cheek area

Water District #10 serves the Central Gardens area.

Some paid fire departments have a few volunteers that also help with coverage.

Property owners are not always willing to pay for firefighter coverage.

Earlier this year voters in Orange County voted against a measure that would allow ESD #4 in Orange County to have a paid chief and two full-time firefighters.

According to 12NewsNow file stories, the Orange County measure would have cost the owner of a $100,000 home an extra $30 per year.

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