The Tallassee Fire Department consists of hardworking, dedicated men and women. Like most fire departments, members of TFD are like members of a family, and there are seats available at the family table to anyone who has the spirit of a volunteer.

"You have to be 18 years old to put on an airpack and go into a burning structure," TFD social media coordinator Sage Golden said. "But, if you're 16 years of age and have transportation to come to a call, we can take you. You would be what we call an 'Explorer.’"

The Explorer program is exactly what the name says.

"You get to explore a career in the fire service,” Golden said. “You get to ride along with the trucks, turn out gear, you get to be more involved in vehicle accidents than in house fires. At house fires, you get to assist with tool put out for the guys who into the interior. Usually, after the fire has been extinguished you can go in and assist with overhaul and salvaging.”

Golden knows a lot about the Explorer program because he was an Explorer when he joined TFD.

"That's actually how I got in. I joined as an explorer when I was 16 and worked my up to become a career firefighter," Golden said. "Coming up in the fire department, a lot of the guys took me under their wing. I was able to gain some really cool experiences and see and do things that most 16-year-olds don't get to experience."

Volunteer firefighters are needed in Tallassee but the shortage is a nationwide problem.

"We need volunteers," Golden said. "The volunteer fire service, in general, is really hurting right now."

During the six years Golden has been a member of TFD, he has seen membership continually decrease.

"When I first joined in 2014, when we had a call, it didn't matter what kind of call, there would be 12 people come to the station and get on a truck," he said. "Here lately, there have been times when we would get a call only three would respond."

According to Golden, some of the best-suited volunteers live right here in the community.

"We need help from people right here in town,"he said.

There are many benefits to joining TFD. Not only do members serve the

community, but they also gain a camaraderie.

"You gain a whole new set of friends, and brothers and sisters," Golden said. "You get a second a family, a sense of belonging."